The Life of John D Lee
in his own words.

"IN JUSTICE to myself, my numerous family and the public in general I consider it my duty to write a history of my life. I shall content myself with giving facts and let the readers draw their own conclusion therefrom." JDL

 

1788

 

 

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John Dolye, the maternal grandfather of John D Lee died

"My grandfather Doyle was a wealthy man He died in 1809 at Kaskaskia Illinois and left his whole fortune to my mother and her sister Charlotte by will. They being his only children he divided the property equally between them."

John Doyle ... for many years held the position of Indian Agent over the roving tribes of Indians in southeastern Illinois He served in the war of the Revolution and was wounded in one of the many battles in which he took part with the Sous of Liberty against the English oppressors About the year 1796 he was appointed Indian Agent and moved to Kaskaskia Illinois."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

John Doyle was born about 1788 in Washington County, Virginia and married to Chloe Smith who was the daughter of Henry Smith and Mary Burks. Mary Burks was the daughter of Samuel Burks and Elizabeth. Samuel was the son of Samuel Burks and Mary Davis. Mary Davis was the daughter of Nathaniel Davis and Elizabeth Hughs. Elizabeth was the daughter of Nicketti and an indian trader by the last name of Hughs. Nicketti was the daughter of a Cayuga Chieftain. Her mother was Cleopatra or Cleopatre. Cleopatra's mother was first the wife of indian chieftain Powhatan, and then when he died, she married his brother, Opechancanough, who became chief in his place. She was also the mother of Pocahontas. Cleopatra then, was either a half sister or possibly a full sister to Pocahontas.

John Doyle and his wife Chloe had two daughters. Their grandfather Henry Smith named these two girls as his only heirs in a will, and it is believed that these two girls, Elizabeth and Charlotte Doyle, were the only children of their father, John Doyle.

Lee's grandfather spoke Indian as well as French and English and had often been employed as an interpreter. He had also been a school teacher and was known generally as a man of honor.

Early records of Randolph County, Illinois showed that John Doyle was among the first to claim land in that area by reason of his service in the army. His four-hundred-acre allotment lay on the bluffs opposite the village and below the point where the Kaskaskia River emptied into the Mississippi. Of his wife Elizabeth Smith, we know nothing except that she must have been the daughter of Henry Smith whose will named the two Doyle daughters as his only heirs. Those two girls, Elizabeth and Charlotte Doyle, were the only children of their father, John Doyle.

  1799 Elizabeth Doyle marries Oliver Reed
Elizabeth Doyle, the older daughter of John Doyle, married Oliver Reed.
  1801 Elizabeth Reed born
Elizabeth Reed, who was usually called Eliza Virginia.
  1802

Oliver Reed is murdered.

My mother was first married in 1799 to Oliver Reed and lived with him until he was assassinated by a man named Jones who entered the house when the family were asleep and striking Reed with a seat of a loom knocked his brains out at the same time severely wounding my half sister Eliza Virginia then six months old The blow and the screams of the child awakened my mother who sprang from the bed and recognizing the assassin said For God's sake Jones spare my husband's life Jones said You know me G d n you you shall tell nótales With this he caught up a sugar trough and struck my mother on the head with it The blow rendered her senseless Jones believing he had completed his work of death then left the house My mother soon revived called upon the neighbors for assistance and told who had committed the murder Jones was arrested convicted and afterwards hung for the crime The injuries received by my mother from the blow struck by Jones affected her all the rest of her life.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

In 1802 her husband Oliver was brutally murdered by a man named Jones, who was tried and hanged for his crime. Oliver Reed's widow Elizabeth then returned to live nine years in the home of her father, where she remained until her marriage to Ralph Lee.

  1811 February 26

Elizabeth Doyle marries Ralph Lee

"My father Ralph Lee was born in the State of Virginia He was of the family of Lee's of Revolutionary fame and was a relative of General Robert E Lee of the late war. He served his time as an apprentice and learned the carpenter's trade in the city of Baltimore."

"At the time of my birth my father was considered one of the leading men of that section of country he was a master workman sober and attentive to business prompt and punctual to his engagements He contracted largely and carried on a heavy business he erected a magnificent mansion for that age and country on his land adjoining the town of Kaskaskia This tract of land was the property of my mother when she married my father
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1812, September 6

John Doyle Lee born Kaskaskia, Illinois

"I was born on the 6th day of September A.D. 1812 in the town of Kaskaskia Randolph County Illinois. My father Ralph Lee was born in the State of Virginia .... He served his time as an apprentice and learned the carpenter's trade in the city of Baltimore. My mother was born in Nashville, Tennessee.

I was born on the point of land lying between and above the mouth of the Okaw or Kaskaskia river and the Mississippi river in what is known as the Great American Bottom the particular point I refer to was then called Zeal-no-waw, the Island of Nuts. It was nineteen miles from the point of the bluffs to the mouth of the Okaw river ten miles wide up at the bluffs and tapering to a point where the rivers united. Large bands of wild horses, French ponies called punt horses were to be found any day feeding on the evergreen and nutritious grasses and vegetation. Cattle and hogs were also running wild in great numbers, every kind of game large and small could be had with little exertion. The streams were full of fish, the forests contained many varieties of timber, nuts, berries and wild fruits of every description found in the temperate zone could be had in their season. This point of land is one of the finest on the globe, there I spent my early years; there I had pleasures and sorrows...

I was quite a lad before I ever saw I wagon carriage, set of harness or a ring a staple or set of bows to an ox yoke. The first wagon I ever saw was brought into that county by a Yankee peddler his outfit created as great an excitement in the settlement as the first locomotive did in Utah. The people flocked in from every quarter to see the Yankee wagon

Every thing in use in that country was of the most simple and primitive construction. There were no saw mills or grist mills in that region sawed lumber was not in the country. The wagons were two wheeled carts made entirely oí wood not a particle of iron about them.

My father and mother were both Catholics; were raised in that faith I was christened in that Church William Morrison and Louise Phillips stood as my representative godfather and godmother It is from that Cliurch record that I could alone obtain the facts and date that referred to my birth.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

At the time of John Doyle Lee's birth Kaskaskia, Illinois was the capital city of the Territory of Illinois, the most important town on the Mississippi River and the center of activity for a large area. It was settled in 1703 when a French Jesuit priest gathered a small Indian tribe on the site. It was captured by the English during the Indian Wars of 1763. In 1778 it was taken from the English in a stroke of military genius by the American general, George Rogers Clark. One member of that intrepid little army of Americans was John Doyle, the maternal grandfather of John D. Lee.

Today Kaskaskia has a population of just 9 people. The Mississippi changed it's course in 1883 and completely wiped out the original settlement. Today Kaskaskia is the only portion of Illinois that is on the west side of the Mississippi.

  1813

John's mother is sick and his father falls deeper into alcoholism.
John is sent to his grandfather Doyles home.

"When about one year old, my mother being sick, I was sent to a French nurse, a negro woman. I remained with my nurse until I was eight years of age when I was taken to my aunt Charlotte's to be educated I had been in a family which talked French so long that I had nearly lost all knowledge of my mother tongue The children at school called me Gumbo and teased me so much that I became disgusted with the French language and tried to forget it which has been a to me since that time.

At this time my sister Eliza was eleven years old but young as she was she had to care for my mother and do all the work of the household .

To add to the misfortune my father began to drink heavily and was soon very dissipated drinking and gambling was his daily occupation The interest and care of his family was no longer a duty with him his presence was seldom seen to cheer and comfort his lonely afflicted wife The house was one mile from town and we had no neighbors nearer than that The neglect and indifference on the part of my father towards my afflicted mother served to increase her anguish and sorrow until death came to her relief.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1815, May Ralph Lee places property in deed of trust.
The court record of Randolph County showed that Ralph Lee and his wife, Elizabeth Doyle, in May 1815, executed a deed of trust to George Fisher of all property to be held in trust for the children, Elizabeth Reed and John Lee.
  1815, November

Lee's mother dies in Kaskaskia, Il.

" My mother's death left us miserable indeed we were my sister and I thrown upon the wide world helpless and I might say without father or mother. My father when free from the effects of intoxicating drink was a kind hearted generous noble man but from that time forward he was a slave to drink seldom sober."

All I know of my father after I was eight years of age is that he went to Texas in the year 1820 and I have never heard of him since. What his fate was I never knew."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1819, October 20

Lee's Grandfather dies and he's sent to live with his Aunt Charlotte Connor.

My aunt was more like a savage than a civilized woman In her anger she generally took her revenge upon those around her who were the least to blame. She would strike with anything she could obtain with which to work an injury. I have been knocked down and beaten by her until I was senseless scores of times and I yet carry many scars on my person the result of my harsh usage by her.

I was treated worse than an African slave. I lived in the family eight years and can safely say I got a whipping every day I was there. My life was one of misery and wretchedness and if it had not been for my strong religious convictions I certainly would have committed suicide to have escaped from the misarable condition I was in."

My sister went to live with her aunt (after her mother died) but the treatment she received was so brutal that the citizens complained to the county commissioners and she was taken away from her aunt and bound out to Dr Fisher with whose family she lived until she became of age.

I remained with my nurse until I was eight years of age when I was taken to my aunt Charlotte's to be educated. I had been in a family which talked French so long that I had nearly lost all knowledge of my mother tongue The children at school called me Gumbo and teased me so much that I became disgusted with the French language and tried to forget it which has been a disadvantage to me since that time."

"My aunt Charlotte was a regular spit fire. She was married to a man by the name of James Conner a Kentuckian by birth They lived ten miles north of us. My aunt was rich in her own right. My uncle Conner was poor he drank and gambled and wasted her fortune; she in return gave him thunder and blixen all the time. The more she scolded the worse he acted until they would fight like cats and dogs.

My experience in childhood made a lasting impression upon me; the horrors of a contentious family have haunted me through life. I then resolved in my mind that I would never subject myself to sorrow and misery as my uncle had done. I would marry for love and not for riches. I also formed the resolution that I would never gamble after I was married and I have kept that resolution since I was a married man."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

When Doyle died October 20, 1819. Charlotte Doyle's husband, James Conner, was named administrator of the Doyle estate.

  1828, December

At 16 years-old Lee leaves the Connor house to make his own way.

When I was sixteen years old I concluded to leave my aunt's house. I cannot call it home. My friends advised me to do so. I walked one night to Kaskaskia went to Robert Morrison and told him my story. He was a mail contractor. He clothed me comfortably and sent me over the Mississippi river into Missouri to carry the mail from St Geneviève to Pinckney on the north side of the Missouri River via Potosi a distance of one hundred and twenty seven miles.

It was a weekly mail. I was to receive seven dollars a month for my services. This was in December 1828. It was a severe winter snow unusually deep and roads bad. I was often until two o clock at night in reaching my stations In the following. Spring I came near losing my life on several occasions when swimming the streams which were then generally over their banks.

At my request I was changed in the Spring of 1829 to the route from Kaskaskia to Vandalia Illinois the then capital of the State; the route went by Covington and Carlisle. This was also a weekly route the distance was about one hundred miles and I had 18 hours in which to make the trip.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1830

Lee's sister marries Josiah Nichols in Vandalia

"While I was carrying the mail in Missouri I got a letter from my sister informing me of her marriage to Josiah Nichols a nephew of Barker Berry, the sheriff of Fayette county Illinois and inviting me to visit them. Nichols was a wealthy man and lived sixteen miles north of Vandalia.*note I had not met my sister for many years so I concluded to visit her. This was one reason why I wished to be put on the Vandalia route.

One day when I arrived at Vandalia I did not find the post master in the post office. I could not find him so I left the mail at the post office door and rode up to my brother in law's house. I had a pleasant visit there and returned the next morning to carry the mail back to Kaskaskia. The post master not knowing where I was had sent another person with the mail at my expense. It cost me $15.00 a little over my wages for two months. I returned to Kaskaskia where my employer received me kindly and laughed at my mishap I agreed to pay all damages if he would change me to another route for I could not consent to return again to tlie scene of my failure.

My employer kindly gave me the place as stage driver from Kaskaskia to Shawneelown on the Ohio river. The route ran by Pinkneyville and Gallatin and it was one hundred and twenty miles in length through a thinly settled country.

Note After JD Lee married he moved to the same vicinity, north of Vandalia. This was the end of the National Road and a very prosperous area. Every emigrant heading West came down this road.

Lee returns to live with his Aunt Charlotte.

"I drove on that line about one month when I commenced driving stage from Kaskaskia to Belleville In traveling this route I passed by my aunt Charlotte Conner's place. Uncle Conner had then gone to the lead mines at Galena. When my aunt and cousins saw me they all begged me to return and live with them They made great promises of kindness and I was finally persuaded to agree to return and live in the family I soon quit the stage driving business and returned to my aunt's."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1831 Lee enlists with militia to fight Indians
In 1831 John enlisted with his Uncle James Connor in the local militia, responding to a call from the Illinois Governor to help put down an insurrection by Indians from the Sac and Fox Tribes in the northern part of the state. Following the bloody battle of Bad Axe on the banks of the Mississippi River, in which the bands of Sac and Fox were subdued, John returned home with Uncle James and became serious about the affections of one of the Woolsey girls who lived nearby.
  1831, October

Lee age 19 works on a steam boat going up the Mississippi. His heroic help of Mr. Boggs leads to a new job in Galena, IL

"When I landed on the wharf at St. Louis, I met a negro by the name of Barton, who had formerly been a slave to my mother. He informed me that he was a fireman on the steamboat Warrior, running the Upper Mississippi, between St. Louis, Mo., and Galena, Illinois. I told him I wanted work. He said he could get me a berth on the Warrior as fireman, at $25.00 a month; but he considered the work more than I could endure, as it was a hard, hot boat to fire on. I insisted on making the eifort, and was employed . as fireman on the Warrior, at $25.00 per month. I found the work was very hard. The first two or three times that I was on watch, I feared I would be forced to give it up; but my proud
spirit bore me up, and I managed to do my work until we reached the lower rapids near Keokuk. At this place the Warrior transferred its freight, in light boats, over the rapids to the Henry Clay, a steamer belonging to the same line.

The Henry Clay then lay at Commerce, now known as Nauvoo. I was detailed with two others to take a skiff with four passengers over the rapids. The passengers were Mrs. Bogges and her mother, and a lady whose name I have forgotten, and Mr. Bogges. The distance to the Henry Clay from where the Warrior lay, was twelve miles. A large portion of the cargo of the Warrior belonged to the firm of Bogges & Co. When we had gone nearly half-way over the rapids my two assistants got drunk and could no longer assist me ; they lay down in the skiff and went to sleep. Night was fast approaching, and there was no chance for sleep or refreshment, until we could reach Commerce or the Henry Clay. The whole labor fell on me, to take that skiff and its load of passengers to the steamer. Mr. Bogges aided me when he could do so, but much of the distance I had to wade in the water and push the skiff as was most convenient. I had on a pair of new calf-skin boots when we started, but they were cut out by the rocks in the river long before we reached the end of the journey.

After a great deal of hardship I succeeded in getting my passengers to the steamer just as it became dark. I was wet, cold, hungry and nearly exhausted. I had strained every nerve to accomplish my task, and save those ladies from a night of suffering in an open skiff on the river. Yet when we boarded the boat I was forgotten; no one paid any attention to me. I sat down by the engine in my wet clothing and soon fell asleep, without bedding or food. I slept from exhaustion until near midnight, when I was seized with fearful crampings, accompanied by a cold and deathlike numbness. I tried to rise up, but could not. Every time I made an effort to rise, the pains increased. I thought my time had come, and that I would perish without aid or assistance.

When all hope had left me, I heard a footstep approaching, and a man came and bent over me and asked if I was ill. I recognized the voice as that of Mr. Bogges. I said I was in the agonies of death, and a stranger without a friend on the boat. He felt my pulse, and haste ned away, saying as he left me, "Do not despair, young man, you are not without friends, I will return at once." He soon came to me bringing a lantern and a bottle of cholera medicine, and gave me a large dose of the medicine, then he brought the Captain and others to me. I was soon comfortably placed in bed, and from that time I had every attention paid me, and all the medical care that was necessary. Mr. Bogges sat by me a long time and rubbed my hands and limbs until the cramping gave way."

As the ship was preparing to depart, Mr. Bogges came to me, and talked to me for some time. He said that he considered me an honorable young man, and felt an interest in me like a father should feel for a son; that he admired my grit and courage, and said I had manly principles, which was more than the average, he now offered to employ me, and wished me to go to Galena with him, and act as his clerk that winter; that he was doing business as a provision and groceryman. He asked me then what wages I was getting. I told him $25. "I will give you $50," said he. I said, After settling with the Captain of the Henry Clay, who bid me good bye and good luck, I started for Galena, Illinois, with Mr. Bogges and his family, to take charge of a business then almost new to me.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1833

Lee leaves Galena to ask Emily to marry him.

In the early part of 1832 I received an affectionate letter from my Emily, desiring me to return to her, and settle down before I had acquired a desire for a rambling life. I then had $500 in money and two suits of broad-cloth clothing. I was anxious to see Emily, so I settled up with Bogges & Co., and started for home. Emily was then living at her sister's house in Prairie de Roache ; her brother-in-law, Thos. Blay, kept the tavern there. I boarded with them about two weeks, during which time I played cards with the Frenchmen there, and dealt vanitene, or twenty-one, for them to bet at. I was lucky, but I lived fast, and spent my money freely, and soon found that half of it was gone.

I soon discovered that Emily was dissatisfied with my conduct. I proposed immediate marriage; Emily proposed to wait until the next fall, during which time we were to prepare for housekeeping. Her suggestions were well intended, and she wished to see if I would not reform, for she had serious doubts about the propriety of marrying a gambler. She asked me to quit gambling, and if I had made that promise all would have been well, but I was stubborn and proud and refused to make any promise. I said to her that if she had not confidence enough in me to take me as I was, without
requiring me to give such a promise, I would never see her again until I came to ask her to my wedding. This was cruel, and deeply wounded her ; she burst into tears and turned from
me. I never saw her again until I went to ask her to attend my wedding.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1833, July 24

Lee visits his cousin and meets Aggatha Ann Woolsey.

"I went up into the country and stopped with my cousins ; while there I met the bride of my youth ; she was the daughter of Joseph Woolsey and Abigail his wife ; they had four daughters, all grown. I attended church, went to parties, picnics, etc., with the girls, and fell in love with Agathe Ann, the
eldest girl. The old folks were opposed to my marrying their daughter, but after suffering the tortures and overcoming the obstacles usual in such cases, I obtained the consent of the girl's parents, and was married to Agathe Ann Woolsey on the 24th day of July, A.D. 1833. The expenses of the wedding ended all my money, and I was ready to start the world new and fresh. I had about §50 to procure things to keep house on, but it was soon gone ; yet it procured about all we then thought
we needed. I commenced housekeeping near my wife's father's, and had good success in all that I undertook. I made money, or rather I obtained considerable property, and was soon comfortably
fixed. I followed trading everything, and for everything that was in the country. "
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

Aggatha Ann's parents, Joseph Woolsey and Abigail Shaffer, moved several times. They continued their migratory life in a generally westward direction until about 1830 when they settled in Randolph County, Illinois as neighbors of the James Conner family. By that time they had a family of twelve children.It was there that John D. Lee met Aggatha Ann.

John and Aggatha stayed at the home of Samuel Hall for some time until they got settled.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1835

John and Aggatha first meet missionaries of the Mormon church.
John soon established himself as a most enterprising young man and a good provider. By the fall of 1835 they had moved to Fayette County near the residence of his sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Josiah Nichols. It was during that time, while living at a site along Luck Creek in that area, that they first encountered missionaries of the Mormon Church.

The Winter before two elders Durphy and Peter Dustan stayed a few days with Hanford Stewart a cousin of Levi Stewart the bishop of Kanab They preached in the neighborhood but I did not attend or hear them preach My wife and her mother went to hear them and were much pleased with their doctrine.
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1835, July 3 - Sep 5
William Oliver LEE, born 3 Jul 1834 in near Kaskaskia, Randolph, Illinois, died in infancy 5 Sep 1835 in Vandalia, Fayette, Illinois, and was buried in Kaskaskia, Randolph, Illinois.
  1836, April 8
Elizabeth Adeline LEE, born 8 Apr 1836 in Luck Creek, Fayette, Illinois, died in childhood 16 Apr 1838 in Vandalia, Fayette, Illinois, and was buried in Vandalia, Fayette, Illinois.
  1836

John D. Lee meets a Mormon.

"I was not a member of any church and considered the religion of the day as merely the opinions of men who preached for hire and worldly gain. I believed in God and in Christ but I did not see any denomination that taught the apostolic doctrine as set forth in the New Testament."

IN 1836 my second child Elizabeth Adaline was born After I moved to Luck Creek I was a fortunate man and accumulated property very fast I look back to those days with pleasure. I was blest with everything that an honest heart could wish I had a large house and I gave permission to all sorts of people to come there and preach. Methodists, Baptist,s Campbellites and Mormons all preached there when they desired to do so. In 1837 a man by the name of King from Indiana passed by or came to my place on his way to Missouri to join the Mormons. He had been a New Light or Campbellite preacher. I invited him to stay at my place until the next Spring. I gave him provisions for his family and he consented to and did stay with me some time. Soon after that there was a Methodist meeting at my house. After the Methodist services were through I invited King to speak. He talked about half an hour on the first principles of the gospel as taught by Christ and his apostles denouncing all other doctrines as spurious. This put an end to all other denominations preaching in my house. That was the first sermon I ever heard concerning Mormonism.

Levi Stewart brings John Lee a Mook of Mormon.

In the meantime Levi Stewart, one of my near neighbors became interested in this religion and went to Far West Missouri to investigate the question of Morinonism at head quarters. He joined the Church there and when he returned he brought with him the Book of Mormon and a monthly periodical called the Elder's Journal.

By this time my anxiety was very great and I determined to fathom the question to the bottom. My frequent conversations with Elder King served to carry me on to a conviction at least that the dispensation of the fullness of time would soon usher in upon the world. If such was the case I wished to know it for the salvation of my never dying soul was of far more importance to me than all other earthly considerations I regarded the heavenly boon of eternal life as a treasure of great price I left off my frivolity and commenced to lead a more moral life.

I then began trying to lay up treasure in Heaven in my Father's rich store house and wished to become an heir of righteousness to inherit in common with the faithful children the rich legacy of our Father's Kingdom.

A third child had been born to us a daughter we called her Sarah Jane During that year our second child Elizabeth Adaline died of scarlet fever The night she lay a corpse I finished reading the Book of Mormon I never closed my eyes in sleep from the time I commenced until I finished the book I read it after asking God to give me knowledge to know if it was genuine and of Divine authority.

I believed the Book of Mormon was true and if so everything but my soul's salvation was a matter of secondary consideration to me I had a small fortune a nice home kind neighbors and numerous friends but nothing could shake the determination I then formed to break up sell out and leave Illinois and go to the Saints at Far West Missouri My friends used every known argument to change my determination but these words came into my mind First seek the righteousness of the kingdom of God then all things necessary will be added unto you and again What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul or what could a man give in exchange."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1838, April 16 Elizabeth Adeline LEE, dies at age 2
Died in childhood 16 Apr 1838 in Vandalia, Fayette, Illinois, and was buried in Vandalia, Fayette, Illinois.
  1838, March 3
Sarah Jane LEE, born 3 Mar 1838.
Sarah Jane LEE (Aggatha1) was born 3Mar 1838 in Vandalia, Fayette, or Luck Creek near Fayette, Illinois.

From her childhood, Sarah Jane had a vivid memory of the occasion when the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Hyrum, were killed, as she lived near the Smiths. When their bodies were brought home from Carthage Jail, she cried bitterly. One day the Prophet's mother took her into a room of the Smith home, which had an unused fireplace with a curtain around it and showed her the Egyptian mummies Joseph had received.

She crossed the plains with her father's company at the age of nine or ten years, walking most of the way with her aged grandmother, Abigail Shaffer, who died on the trail soon after they crossed the Missouri River. The company eventually arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1848.

  1838, June 4

Lee family arrives at Far West, MO. JD Lee is 26

The night after our arrival at Far West there was a meeting to be held there. Stewart said to me, "Let us go up and hear them speak with new tongues and interpret the same and enjoy the gifts of the gospel generally for this is to be a prayer and testimony meeting. My reply was I want no signs I believe the gospel they preach on principle and reason not upon signs its consistency is all I ask All I want are natural logical and reasonable arguments to make up my mind from in this. I did not to the meeting.

We remained at the house of elder Joseph Hunt in Far West several days He was then a strong Mormon and was afterwards first captain in the Mormon Battalion He as an elder in the Church was a preacher of the gospel all of his family were firm in the faith
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1838, June 17

Lee's baptized in Far West, Missouri
Both John and Aggatha became convinced of the validity of the message the elders bore and the validity of the Book of Mormon which John described as "a star opening the dispensation of the fullness of times."

Traveling with Levi Stewart and others, the Lee family made their way west across the Mississippi River to central Missouri in the vicinity of the newly-formed city of Far West. They took up land on the prairie and called their settlement Ambrosia. It was at that place that John D. Lee and his wife Aggatha Ann were baptized on June 17, 1838.

"After staying in Far West about a week we moved about twenty miles and settled on a stream called Marrowbone at a place called afterwards Ambrosia Sunday June 17 1838 I attended meeting Samuel H Smith a brother of the prophet and elder Daniel Cathcart preached After meeting I and my wife were baptized by elder Cathcart in Ambrosia on Shady Grove creek in Daviess county Missouri I was now a member"
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

John built a log cabin in Daviess County on Shady Grove Creek in an area known as Ambrosia, which was about twenty miles north of Far West. The new log house, though, served as their home for only a few months, as relationships between the Mormons and the Missourians were so explosive that co-habitation of the two groups was impossible. In a matter of just a few months after their arrival, open conflict broke out among the parties. Mormon forces dug in at Far West and were ready to resist to the end an overwhelming force of two divisions of Missouri Militia when President Joseph Smith received word of the Haun's Mill Massacre. Unable to reconcile such total waste of life to purposes and aims of the Church, he capitulated and was taken prisoner along with his force of eight hundred men.

"My neighbor Stewart and myself each selected a place on the same stream and near where his three brothers Riley Jackson and Urban lived Urban Stewart is now Treasurer of Beaver county Utah On my location there was a splendid spring of pure cold water also a small lake fed by springs This lake was full of fish such as perch bass pickerel mullet and catfish It was surrounded by a grove of heavy timber mostly hickory and oak in nearly all their varieties We could have fish sufficient for use every day in the year if we desired My home on Ambrosia creek reminded me much of the one I had left on Luck creek Illinois but it was on more rolling land and much healthier than the Illinois home had proven to be.

Meetings were held three times a week also prayer and testimony meetings at the latter sacrament was administered"
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1839, January 15 Blessings of John D. Lee by Isaac Morley on January 15, 1839 at Far West, Missouri
  1839, April

Lee family forced to leave Missouri by persecutions.
After turning over his weapons to the Missourians, and signing an individual form deeding all his property to the state, John, with the promise that he would move from Missouri by the first of April in 1839, was allowed to return to his family.

"The Mormons were forted or barricaded in the public school houses and kept without any rations being issued to them The grain fields and gardens that belonged to the Mormons were thrown open to the stock and wasted Our cattle and other stock were shot down for sport and left for the wolves and birds of prey to devour We were closely guarded and not allowed to go from our quarters without a guard We were nearly starved for several days until I obtained permission to go out and bring in some of the cattle that the soldiers had killed for sport The weather was cold and the snow deep so the meat was good I also got permission to gather in some vegetables and from that time while we remained prisoners the men had plenty to eat yet often it was of a poor quality

I was recommended to General Wilson by the officer who had ordered his men to blow my brains out as a suitable man for a guide to Adam on Diamond He said that I was as stubborn a a mule bat still there was something about me he respected That he believed that I was honest and certainly no coward General Wilson said Young man do you live at Adam on Diamond I said I cannot say that I do but I did once and I have a wife and child there that I would like to see but as to a home I have none left He said Where did you live before you came here In Illinois I answered You shall soon see your wife and child I will start in the morning with my division for Adam on Diamond You are at liberty to select two of your comrades and go with me as guides to pilot us there Be ready for an early start and report to my Adjutant Thank you sir I will do as you request said I I selected two good men I think Levi Stewart was one but I have really forgotten who the other man was In the morning I was on hand in time The day was cold and stormy a hard north wind blowing and the snow falling rapidly It was an open country for thirteen miles with eighteen inches of snow on the ground We kept our horses in the lope until we reached Shady Grove timber thirteen miles from Far West There we camped for the night by the side of Waldo Littlefleld's farm.

After camp was struck I went to General Wilson and said General I have come to beg a favor of you I ask you in the name of humanity to let me go on to Adam on Diamond to day I have a wife and helpless babe there I am informed our house has been burned and she is likely out in this storm without a shelter You are half way there the snow is deep and you can follow our trail it had then slackened lip or was snowing but little in the morning there is but one road to the settlement He looked at me for a moment and then said Young man your request shall be granted I admire your resolution.

As we neared home the sun shone out brightly When I got in sight of where my house had been I saw my wife sitting by a log fire in the open air with her babe in her arms Some soldiers had cut a large hickory tree for firewood for her and had built her a shelter with some boards I had dressed to weather board a house so she was in a measure comfortable She had been weeping as she had been informed that I was a prisoner at Far West and would be shot and that she need not look for me for she would never see me again When I rode up she was nearly frantic with delight and as soon as I reached her side she threw herself into my arms and then her self possession gave way and she wept bitterly but she soon recovered herself and gave me an account of her troubles during my absence."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

John and Aggatha find refuge with Aggatha's sister in Fayette, IL
John and Aggatha Ann subsequently experienced the trauma and unbelievable hardships created by Governor Boggs' extermination order, fleeing Missouri along with twelve thousand other brethren and sisters in early 1839. They reached Fayette County, Illinois, and found refuge with Aggatha's sister and her husband, George W. Hickerson.

  1839 John D Lee leave on first mission to Tennessee
That same year, with faith unshaken, Aggatha supported her husband on his first proselyting mission to Tennessee. He was gone several months. On his first mission he traveled with Levi Stewart into Tennessee where they separated, Stewart to work among his own kinfolk and Lee to proselyte among strangers. Upon their return to their families they joined in the move to Nauvoo where both acquired lots and built homes. Their ways parted again, though all their lives they would remain friends.
  1840, August 25
John Alma LEE, born 25 Aug 1840 mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1841, Jan 31 Diary of John D. Lee, January 31, 1841-July 18, 1841, from Moselle N. Bickley This part of Lee's diary is an account of his mission to Tennessee. He gives details of his travels, people he met, religious discussions, distances he traveled, the conversions he made and baptisms and some other items. At the end some short poems by Lee and acrostics dedicated to various friends.
Diary of John D. Lee for March, 1842 - August, 1843, from Moselle
N. Bickley Contains the details of two more missions to Tennessee as above. Has more about his sermons and more about the growing antagonism towards the Mormon missionaries. It also contains the blessings of John D. Lee by Isaac Morley on January 15, 1839 at Far West, Missouri (pp. 22-23)
  1841, Jan 31

Lee's mission to Rutherford County, Tennesee. JD Lee is 29

"DURING the winter of 1841 a letter was sent to the Prophet from the leading men and members of the branch church on Stone River Tennessee and Cripple Creek Rutherford County Tennessee desiring him to send me back to labor in that country as there was a wide field for preaching there. They stated that I had so ingratiated myself among the people that no other man could command the influence and respect to do good that I could among them. This was enough In the latter part of February I took leave of my family and entered upon my mission. To refuse to comply with the call of the Prophet is a bad omen. A man so doing is looked upon with distrust renders himself unpopular and is considered a man not to be depended upo.n At the time I started the river was blocked with ice. I traveled on foot without purse or scrip like the apostles of old carrying out the motto of the Church the bee of the desert. "Leave the hive empty handed and return laden." In this way I as well as many other elders brought in money thousands of dollars yearly to the Church and I might say many hundreds of thousands as the people among whom I traveled were mostly wealthy and when they first received the love of the truth their hearts as well as their purses were opened and they would pour out their treasures into the lap of the Bishop."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1842, August 24
Mary Adeline LEE, born 24 Aug 1842 mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1843, Fall Lees move to Nauvoo, Il - Aggatha's family also joins the church.
Aggatha's family had followed the Lees' move to Nauvoo in 1843, and when not living in some of the Lee homes, they were living nearby. Joseph, the father, had died a few years before the move to Nauvoo. He was the only member of the family who had not joined the LDS Church. It is not known how many Woolsey children remained with their widowed mother, but Rachel Andora and the youngest member of the family, Emoline, were both unmarried. There may have been others living at home but those two were some of the younger children, and possibly the only ones remaining with their mother.
  1843, Fall

Lee appointed to committe to build a Seventies Hall in Nauvoo with Brigham Young as councilor.

"Two committees had previously been appointed to the task but had failed to raise even a dollor for the building. My plan was to build it by shares of the value of five dollars each Hyrum Smith the Patriarch told me that he would give the Patriarchal Blessing to any that labored on the foundation of the building The Seventies numbered about four hundred and ninety men I was to create the material That is I would watch and when I could get a contract to take out lumber from the river as rafts would land at the city I would take common laboring men and the portion of the lumber that we got for our pay we would pile up for the building In this way we got all the lumber needed The brick we made ourselves and boated the wood to burn them and our lime from the island"

"In the month of March 1844 we had the building up on the west side nearly two stories high One day when the wall was built up nine feet high and forty five feet long and was of course green a tornado came that night and blew the wall down breaking columns and joists below doing a damage of several thousand dollars I was inclined to be down in the lip but Brigham Young laughed at me and said it was the best omen in the world it showed that the Devil was mad and knew that the Seventy would receive the blessings of God in that house and as they were special witnesses to the nations of the earth they would make his kingdom quake and tremble that when Noah was building the ark he was mobbed three times but he persevered and finally they said Let the d d old fool alone and see what he will accomplish Just so with you double your diligence and put her up again If you do not you will lose many a blessing. I went to work again with as m any men as could work to advantage We threw the wall down flat and commenced a new one another brick thicker than the former I borrowed fifty thousand brick and made them and returned them when the weather was fine By the first of May we had the Hall closed in."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1843, December

Lee chosen as a member of the group of forty special police officers to guard Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. JD Lee is 31

"Through the winter Joseph Smith selected forty men for a city guard from the old tried veterans of the cause I was the seventh man chosen These men were also the life guard of the Prophet and Patriarch and of the twelve Apostles My station as a guard was at the Prophet's mansion during his life and after his death my post was changed to the residence of Brigham Young he being the acknowledged successor of the Prophet."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1844, February 4

Lee marries Nancy Bean, his first Pluaral wife.
His position as police guard over the Prophet Joseph as well as Brigham Young made it possible for Lee to be taught that principle of plural marriage. Joseph Smith took his first plural wife in Nauvoo, Louisa Beaman, on April 5, 1841; Brigham Young took his, Lucy Decker, on June 15, 1842. John D. Lee, who was working closely with both men, wrote:

"Nancy Bean became a member of my family February 4, 1844. On April 19, Louisa Free, Caroline Williams, Abigail Woolsey and Rachel Woolsey."

Nancy Bean
Nancy BEAN was born 14 Dec 1826 in West Troy, Lincoln, Missouri. She was the daughter of James BEAN and Elizabeth LEWIS. Nancy died 3 Mar 1903 in Parowan, Iron, Utah, and was buried 5 Mar 1903 in Parowan, Iron, Utah.

From her brother George Washington Bean, we read: "My parents were married July 27, 1824, in Lincoln County, Missouri. Their eldest daughter, Nancy, was born there. Our intelligent mother kept bad words washed from our tongues. 'A soft answer turneth away wrath,' she would say. My parents were strictly religious, father a Methodist and mother a Presbyterian. Alexander Williams, a Missouri exile became our fast friend and we invited him to our house. Elder Williams obtained the privilege of preaching in our school house. The result was that in May 1841 Elder Williams baptized my father, mother, and my sister, Nancy, into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From John D. Lee's diaries, we read:

"My second wife, Nancy Bean was the daughter of wealthy farmers. She saw me on a mission and heard me preach at her father's home. She came to Nauvoo and stayed at my house and grew in favor."

In 1845 Nancy Bean married John D. Lee and later was sealed to him on January 14, 1846. Brigham Young performed the sealing with Heber C. Kimball and Jedediah Morgan Grant as witnesses. On January 15, 1846 Nancy gave birth to their daughter, Eliza Lee, later named Cornelia. Nancy and her three-week-old baby were among the first to be taken across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo when the mobs came. From Juanita Brooks' writings, "Nancy was the first to bear a child under the New Covenant and it was thought she should be out of the city in case of an investigation."

  1844, April 19



Lee marries Louisa Free, Caroline Williams, Abigail Woolsey and Rachael Woolsey in Nauvoo, IL.

Louisa Free
Louisa FREE
was 20 when she married John Lee. Born 9 Aug 1824 in Fayetteville, St. Clair, Illinois, she was the daughter of Absalom Pennington FREE and Elizabeth or Betsy STRAIT. The Free family became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the summer of 1835 in Illinois and shortly moved to Far West, Missouri. It is thought they moved back to Fayetteville, IL and that is where it is thought John D Lee met the family in 1842 while on a mission.
Caroline Williams
Sarah Caroline WILLIAMS was 14 when she was sealed to John D Lee. She was living with the Lee family at the time and when Louisa and Rachel were sealed she insisted that she wanted to be sealed also. She born 24 Nov 1830 in Murfreesboro, Rutherford, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Isaac Horton WILLIAMS and Margaret WALKUP.
Caroline wrote in her journal, "...joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when quite young, came to Nauvoo in 43". Whether or not Isaac and Margaret were ever members of the Mormon Church was not known. It is likely they were not, for Caroline traveled from Tennessee to Nauvoo with the William Pace family. The Paces were from the same general area as the Williams family, and like Caroline, they had been converted through the efforts of John D. Lee. Sarah stayed with the Pace family after Nauvoo but during the Winter Quarters period moved to Missouri and later married a man in TN whith whom she had a child.. She rejoined Lee in Salt Lake in 1851.

"Louisa was sealed to me Amasa Lyman officiated at the ceremony At the name time Sarah C Williams the girl that I had baptized ia Tennessee when but a child at the house of Wm Pace and who came to Nauvoo stood up and claimed a place in my family She is yet with me and is the mother of twelre children She has been a kind wife mother and companion."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

Abigail Woolsey
Abigail Woolsey was the mother of John D Lee's first wife Aggatha Ann Woolsey. Once the practice of Celectial Marriage become known to her, Aggatha Ann apparently accepted the idea as a revelation from the Lord to the prophet and part of a "celestial law." There was evidence of her acquiescence when just three months after marrying Nancy Bean, Louisa Free and Sarah Caroline Williams, John took as additional wives, Aggatha's sister, Rachel and her mother, Abigail. Mother Woolsey by that time had been widowed for more than five years, her husband Joseph having expired before the family's move to Nauvoo. She became a wife to John D. Lee but only in the sense that he was a provider and protector. She was by that time more than sixty years old; John later wrote that he married her "for her soul's sake." Aggatha, noting the need for her mother to have food, clothing and shelter, may have had that in mind when it was obvious that they must flee Nauvoo to live in the wilderness for an indefinite time. She could have been instrumental in bringing about the sealing. Abigail died on the trip west to Salt Lake City.
Rachael Woolsey
Rachel Andora WOOLSEY was the sister of John's first wife Aggatha. She was 19 when she married John. Born 5 Aug 1825 in Danville, Mercer, Kentucky.

  1844, May 18 Diaries of John D. Lee, May 18, 1844-August 10, 1844, from Mrs. J. A. Henrie Details of a mission to Frankfurt, Kentucky and nearby areas. Much like details of other mission except a growing antagonism against Mormons which erupts into mob attacks sometimes. Lee tells of debates with members of other church sects on this mission. Returns to Nauvoo in August just as Sidney Rigdon is claiming to be the successor of Joseph Smith as Prophet of the Church. Most of the Twelve Apostles were away on missions at this time. When the Twelve return, Rigdon takes his followers and leaves Nauvoo. Brigham Young takes charge. Lee is asked to complete the Hall of the Seventies, which he does. Lee is appointed recorder for the Seventies. Lee builds home for Heber C. Kimball. He is put on the police force and city watch. He is assigned to guard Brigham Young's home. Mob violence grew and quickly became violent. Plans made to move west. Lee is asked to help finish the Temple and does so.
  1844, May 28

Joseph Smith runs for President, John Lee leaves on a mission to Frankfort, KY
Prophet Joseph Smith decided to run for the office of president of the United States, and with that in mind he sent out many missionaries. John D. Lee was one of a large group who left Nauvoo on May 28, 1844 for that purpose.

"Brigham Young said to me You had better shut up the Seventies Hall and obey perhaps the last call of the Prophet. Things looked rather squally before I left and but little prospect of growing better. I left Nauvoo on the 4th of May 1844 with greater reluctance than I had on any previous mission. It was hard enough to preach the gospel without purse or scrip but it was nothing compared to offering a man with the reputation that Joseph Smith had to the people as a candidate for the highest gift of the nation I would a thousand times rather have been shut up in jail than to have taken the trip but I dared not refuse.

About one hundred of us took the steamer Ospray for St Louis. Our mission was understood by all the passengers on board. I was not long waiting until the subject was brought up. I had made up my mind to banish all fear and overcome timidity. I made the people believe that I felt highly honored to electioneer for a Prophet of God. That it was a privilege that few men enjoyed in these days. I endeavored to make myself agreeable by mixing with the passengers on the steamer. I told them that the Prophet would lead both candidates from the start. There was a large crowd on the boat and an election was proposed. Judges and clerks were appointed and a vote taken. The Prophet received a majority of seventy five out of one hundred and twenty five votes polled. This created a tremendous laugh and we kept it up till we got to St Louis. Here the most of us took the steamer Mermaid. The change of steamers afforded me a new field of labor. Here I met a brother of Gen Atchinson one of the commanders of the militia that served against the Church at Far West. He became very much interested in me and when we parted at Smithland Ky he invited me to go home with him and preach in his neighborhood. My destination being Frankfort I could not accept his invitation.

I went to Lexington by way of Georgetown lecturing as I went I finally went to the Capital put up at a hotel and endeavored to hire the State House to speak in but found it engaged My funds were low though my hotel bill was four dollars per day. After three days trial I hired the Court House. The people said that no Mormon had ever been able to get a hearing though several had attempted to do so. When evening came I had to light up the house and ring the bell. Elder S.B. Frost assisted me. Soon the hall was filled with none but juveniles from ten to fifteen years of age. I understood the trick. They supposed I would leave but to their surprise I arose and said I was glad to see them out in such great numbers that I knew they had good parents or they would not be here that if they would take seats and be quiet we would sing them some of our Mormon songs. Elder Frost was a charming singer. We sang two or three songs. Our juvenile hearers seemed paralyzed I then knelt down and prayed. By this time the hall was crowded with men and I begged them not to crowd my little friends out. I then spoke about an hour and a half upon the constitutional rights of American citizens. I spoke of the character of the Southern people that they were noted for their kind and generous treatment of strangers in particular but that I feared from the treatment I had received that I had missed my way in Kentucky. My sires were of Southern birth my father was a relative of the Revolutionary Lee of Virginia my uncle was from Lexington Kentucky that I came a stranger into their midst and I felt confident that the right of speech would be extended to us that we were ministers of the gospel traveling without purse or scrip dependent upon the generosity of the people for food and raiment nor did we preach for hire that if they wished we would remain there and lecture and if it met the approbation of the people they could have the gospel preached to them without money and without price. The first man that spoke up was a saddler he said he was a poor man but we were welcome to his house giving the street and number. About twenty more responded in like manner among them some of the most wealthy men of the. We went home with a rich farmer and continued our labors having more calls than we could fill. We were sent for by a rich planter who lived about twenty miles away.

I was anxious to extend our labors as much as it was advisable. On our way to the planter's we found it difficult to obtain dinner. The orthodox people did not like to associate with Mormons. I finally asked them to direct me to where some infidel or gambler lived. They wanted to know what on earth I wanted of them. I replied To get something to eat that they were too liberal minded to turn a stranger away from their door. That the Saviour ate with publicans and sinners for the very reason that we do for the religious scribes and pharisees would not feed him. They pointed us to the next house where we went and were kindly received and entertained. The gentleman informed us that he belonged to no church but that he had an interest in a church and said we were welcome to preach there. He went and made an appointment for us to preach. We preached there and were received with the greatest kindness. I soon began to baptize and calls came in on every side when the papers brought us the news of the assassination of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum.

We returned immediately to Frankfort as I expected the Elders there to learn what to do We all retired to Maple Grove on the Kentucky river and kneeled in prayer and asked the Lord to show us whether or not these reports were true. I was the mouth in prayer but received nothing definite in answer to my prayer I told the elders to follow their own impressions and if they wished to do so to return to Nauvoo. Each of them made his way back I went and spent the evening with a Mr Snow. He claimed to be a cousin of Erastus Snow who was favorable to us. We spent the evening talking over the reported deed The next morning about ten o clock my mind was drawn out in prayer. I felt as though the solemnity of eternity was resting upon me. A heavenly hallowed influence fell upon me and continued to increase until I was electrified from head to foot. I saw a large personage enter the door and stand before me. His apparel was as white as the driven snow and his countenance as bright as the noon day sun. I felt paralyzed and was speechless and motionless. It remained with me but a moment then receded back out of the door. This bright being's influence drew me from my chair and led me south about three hundred yards into a plot of clover and blue grass and stood over a persimmon tree which afforded a pleasant shade. I fell prostrate upon my face upon the grass. While here I saw Joseph the Prophet and Hyrum his brother the Patriarch and their wounds by which they had been assassinated. This personage spoke to me in a soft low voice and said that the Prophet and Patriarch had sealed their testimony with their blood. That our mission was like that of the Apostles and our garments were clear of the blood of the nation. That I should return to Nauvoo and wait until power was granted us from on high. That as the Priesthood fell upon the Apostle Peter so should it rest with the twelve apostles of the Church for the present And thus the vision closed and I gradually returned back to my native element. Rising up I looked at my watch and saw that I had been there au hour and a quarter. Returning to the house my friend Snow asked me if I was ill. I replied in the negative He said I was very pale that he saw my countenance change while I sat in my chair that when I went out of the door it seemed as though every drop of blood had ..."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

A month later when word came that Joseph had been killed by a mob at Carthage Jail, Lee could not believe it. Surely, he argued, God would not permit such a thing to happen to his chosen servant. Only after fasting and prayer and a special manifestation could he accept the reality of the prophet's death. Broken in spirit and sick at heart, he started back to Nauvoo. He arrived after the incident wherein the people of the Church voted to sustain Brigham Young as their leader.

(John's "Confessions" says he left 4th May 1844.)

  1844, June 27

Joseph and Hyrum Smith murdered at Cathage, IL.
At the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in June 1844, life in Nauvoo took a dramatic turn for all its citizens. What had been at first minor incidents of conflict between Gentiles living in surrounding counties and the Mormons of Hancock County, particularly in Nauvoo, had developed into more violent encounters until finally there emerged a planned agenda of mob violence against the Saints, culminating in the murder of the prophet and his brother. Those vicious assaults continued until leaders of the Church were given a mandate to leave. They finally acquiesced and agreed to abandon Nauvoo on April 1, 1846 under the leadership of the new president, Brigham Young.

  1844, July

Lee moves from Warsaw Steet about 1.5 miles East of the Temple to a house Brigham Young purchased him on the flats.

"At that time I lived on Warsaw street about one half of a mile east of the Temple He (Brigham Young) wished me to remove near to him as I was one of the guards that were assigned to guard him. I had quite a comfortable brick house and lot all in fine order on Warsaw street. He told me to let him have my property on Warsaw street and he would buy me a house on the flat nearer to him. I did so and he bought out Samuel D Frost and sent him on a mission to Kentucky where I had been laboring taking his family with him. He had a nice little frame house I moved into it and had it finished on the inside and made quite comfortable. Brigham at that time was living in a little log house but was preparing to build a brick house."
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1844, July

Seventies Hall completed in Nauvoo.

Lee is Wharf Master in Nauvoo

Lee is a Major in the Nauvoo Legion, commanded escort in the 5th infantry.

Lee is Librarian of Masons

Lee is General Clerk and reader for the Seventies and issued the laws.

  1844, July 12
Joseph Hyrum LEE, born 12 Jul 1844 mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1845, July 15


Lee's home in Nauvoo located on the NE corner of Hotchkiss and Hyde street.
Link to map

"Haviug finished the (Seventies) hall I was offered or rather had a mission to build Joseph Young the head President of the Seventies a neat brick dwelling. Calling upon the Seventies to assist me I soon mustered all the help that was necessary and made brick enough to build me a large dwelling house. Including my other buildings it was ninety feet front two and a half stories high with a good cellar. By the middle of July 1845 I had both houses the one for Joseph Young and the one for myself finished ready for painting.

During the Winter of 1844-45 a man by the name of Stanley took up a school, teaching the use of the broad-sword. At the expiration of his term I opened three schools of fifty scholars each in the same exercise. I gave thirteen lessons in each school receiving two dollars from each scholar This made me six hundred dollars. I received twenty five cents for each license that I issued. With these means I purchased paints and oils to finish my dwelling house. I became very popular among the Saints and many of them donated labor and materials for my dwelling house. I had a handsome inclosure with fine orchard, well of water, house finished and grained from top to bottom and everything in the finest order"
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

  1845, December


Lee sealed to Martha Berry, Polly Workman and Delethea Morris These marriages took place either during the month of December 1845, or January, 1846. John D. Lee wrote that he was married to Martha Berry, his eighth wife, during the winter of 1846-1847:

"In the temple, I took three more wives, Martha Berry, Polly Ann Workman, and Delethea Morris, and had all my family sealed to me over the altar."

Polly Ann Workman She was his seventh wife. Her name appeared in his journals on occasion during the exodus from Nauvoo but little was known of her prior life. She and Nancy Bean were the first in the Lee family to cross the Mississippi in February, 1846, to begin the trek across Iowa to Winter Quarters. When the company was at a place known as Pacific Springs about the middle of June, Polly Ann decided she would go back to Pisgah where many of the Saints had stopped for lack of means to go farther. In John D. Lee's family of forty-eight, which included adopted sons and their families, twenty-eight were forced to remain. Those in the family who continued had four wagons, twenty-four head of cattle, four mules, and three horses. Polly Ann was one of that group of family members.

It was when they arrived at Pacific Springs that Polly Ann left the family to go back to Pisgah. John warned her of the move, reporting the conversation in his journal,

"...I at that time told her the consequences of such measures. Still she persisted in going..." After several months, most of which time she was severely ill, she returned to the Lee family. A couple of months later she experienced more illness, "...very violently attacked of a fever and sickness of the stomach..."

A few days later, on February 10, 1847, John and Polly Ann had a long conversation. There seemed to be serious problems between them, which John viewed as irreconcilable. With this feeling, he had spoken to her brother, who was at Pisgah about sending her to him. John made arrangements with him that he allow her to work in his household, and be paid at the rate of one dollar per week. The next day, despite some additional dialogue between them, John put her on a wagon and sent her back. Polly Ann remained in Iowa and married Mr. Bennett. She never went to Utah.

Martha Elizabeth BERRY was 18 when she married John Lee. Born 22 Nov 1827 in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Jesse Woods BERRY and Amelia SHANKS. Martha died 17Jun 1885 in Kanosh, Millard, Utah, and was buried Jun 1885 in Panguitch, Garfield, Utah. Martha was named in John D. Lee's journals, while at both Winter Quarters and Summer Quarters, involved in some of the routine work in which all his wives were engaged.

Delethia MORRIS was 33 when she married. Born about 1812. John D. Lee married Delethia Morris as his ninth wife sometime during the winter of 1845-1846. Her name appeared only once in his writings: "In the temple, I took three more wives, Martha Berry, Polly Ann Workman and Delethia Morris." Juanita Brooks wrote that nothing had been found about her except that while Lee was away on his trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, she was married to Allen Miller, a trader. This information was obtained from Lee's "Confessions,"

"...while we were here, two men came to our camp, named Allen Miller and Mr. Clancy. They were traders to the Potawatomie Indians. Allen Miller had married one of my wives..."

Delethia Morris had no children by John D. Lee.

  1846, Jan 15
Eliza Lee, (later named Cornelia) born to Nancy Bean
On January 15, 1846 Nancy Bean gave birth to their daughter, Eliza Lee,
later named Cornelia.
  1846, Jan 20
Lee sealed to Louisa Free in the Nauvoo Temple.
  1846, February 1 Diary of Jolm D. Lee, February 1, 1846-August 26, 1846, from Mrs. J. A. Henrie: Plan and inventory of the Camp of the Saints. Company No. 1 organized February 17, 1846 by John D. Lee. Left Nauvoo about February 1, 1846 and crossed Mississippi River to Iowa. Lee tells of provisions gathered and plans for companies to go west. Lee returns to Nauvoo for his family. Many make trips from Nauvoo and return for supplies, etc.

Col. Kane visits Brigham Young. Young tells him that they will settle in Bear River Valley,
in the Great Basin, and on Vancouver Island.
Friday, August 28, 1846 in Indian Territory.

  1846, Feb 12

Lee leaves Nauvoo to begin preparation for migraton of the Saints.
Troubles with their neighbors had become so acutely threatening that the Mormon leaders had agreed that the Saints would leave the state of Illinois as soon as "grass grows and water runs."
Late in January of 1846, it became evident that some must cross the river very soon to make preparations for the general migration.

Charles Shumway was first to go over into Iowa on February fourth. Eight days later, John D. Lee crossed with one wagon, two horses and one cow, and with provisions to sustain the family for two months or more. With him were two wives: Polly Workman, his youngest wife, and Nancy Bean, with a six-week-old baby girl in her arms.

President Young and a part of his family joined the group on February fifteenth. Severe winter storms set in, bringing snow, hail, wind, and bitter cold to the area so that the people traveling in wagons across the open prairie suffered greatly from exposure.

  1846, Feb 26
John Brigham, was born to Louisa Free and John on February 26, 1846. This was about ten days after abandonment of the city of Nauvoo by President Young when the first contingent of Saints left the city. John had gone to assist the President's caravan of fifteen wagons and fifty family members. He remained with them until reaching Sugar Creek where a camp was set up. Afterwards, on the twenty-seventh, he returned to Nauvoo to make provisions for moving the remainder of his own family. In the meantime John Brigham had been born and was two days old when Lee arrived back in Nauvoo.
  1846, March 4




On March fourth, Lee brought the remainder of his family across into Iowa. That time he had four wagons and a number of cattle. The Lee group included Aggatha Ann and her four children; her mother, Abigail; her sister, Rachel; and two other young wives, Martha Berry and Louisa Free with her small son, John Brigham. Driving the teams were one of Polly Workman's brothers and Hyrum Woolsey, as well as Horace Rowan, a recent convert, with his wife.

It took most of the day Tuesday, March third, to get everything over the river but by Wednesday they were ready to set out across Iowa to somewhere west. At the time they did not know where their journey would lead them, perhaps to the Rocky Mountains, or maybe to wait out the winter somewhere in between.

For the next six months the Lee family shared the extreme hardships of the exiles on the prairie, inching westward as the weather permitted, arriving in late August at Winter Quarters. During that time Lee kept a journal of the activities of the leaders and the decisions that were made. His own family was mentioned rarely; in fact, it is not known definitely as to the makeup of his family during that period and the following year. In addition to the seven wives named, there were at least two, Delethia Morris, who left him to marry a trader while he was gone on one of his numerous trips, and Sarah Caroline Williams who lived most of the time with her aunt, Marcia Allen.

  1846, Aug 15
Heber John LEE, born 15 Aug 1846 - Nov 20 1846 in near Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska, died in infancy 1847 in Summer Quarters, Douglas, Nebraska. mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1846, Aug 30 Diary of Mission to pick up Mormon Battalion payroll, August 30, 1846: From Mrs. Manetta Henrie
  1846, Aug 30

Lee sent to bring back the gold payroll of the Mormon Battalion.
Brigham Young sends John D. Lee and Howard Egan on mission to the Mormon Battalion
with the Western Army. Letters and packages to the men in Lee's charge.

To St. Joseph, Missouri and on the Ft. Leavenworth. Here Lee is asked to take U.S. Mail
on the Battalion and Stephen Watts Kearney, at Santa Fe.

Lee gives route and miles traveled each day. Describes country and travel conditions and
others met or passed on the route which follows the old Santa Fe Trail.

They overtake the Battalion men. Col. Allen has died and new officer is very harsh with
men, driving them on.

November 20, 1846 last entry in this diary book. Not home yet but at Ft. Leavenworth.

  1846, Oct 5 Lee reachs the first Spanish settlements. Lee describes the people, herds,
and houses of adobe.
  1846, Oct 8 A messenger from General Kearney arrives. Lt. Col. Cooke has been appointed to command the Battalion from Santa Fe to California.
They reach Santa Fe and are greeted by General Doniphan. They are 620 miles west of Ft.
Leavenworth.
Part of the Battalion who are weak and sick and families are to go on to Pueblo.
  1846, Oct 20 Lee and Egan prepare to return to Winter Quarters with payments for
the men to go to Brigham Young. They start on one thousand mile return trip.
  1846, Nov 20 The last entry in this diary book. Not home yet but at Ft. Leavenworth.
  1846, Nov 21 Diary of Lee, November 21, 1846 - 1847 at Winter Quarters, from Charles Kelly. This diary is printed in book form as Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-47 and 1859.Edited by Charles Kelly. Private printed for Rolla Bishop Watt by Western Printing
Company. 1938. Copy in Utah State Historical Society Library is 921 L51k. It has
marginal indications of contents and a complete index.
  1846, Dec 21 Emoline Woolsey married to John D. Lee.
  1847, Feb 7 Nancy Armstrong and two sisters, Polly and Lavina Young married to John D Lee.
  1847, Mar 31 William Shin WARDSWORTH born to Nancy Vance, 31 Mar 1847 in Winter Quarters, Douglas, Nebraska.
  1847, August Nancy Armstrong fell victim to the plague and died at Summer Quarters in August 1847
  1847, June 1 Lee begins his trip to Salt Lake City. The trip will take 3 and 1/2 months and he will arrive September 23, 1848. He took with him Aggatha Ann with her children; her mother, Abigail; and her sister, Rachel, both of whom were sealed to Lee, and three other plural wives, Martha Berry, Polly Young and Lavina Young. One wife, Nancy Armstrong, died in Summer Quarters. Nancy Bean and Louisa Free crossed the plains with their parents and remarried in SLC. Sarah Williams who was just 14 when she was sealed had returned to Tennesee and married. She later rejoined John in SLC 1850.
  1847, Sept 3 Abigail Woolsey dies on the trail to SLC. She was the mother of John's first wife as well as 2 other wifes. Rachael and Emoline. Abigail was also sealed to John D Lee.
  1847, Sept 27 Lee arrives in SLC.
Upon their September arrival in the valley so late in the season, two major problems presented themselves. They had to quickly provide shelter before the winter storms began and find a way to feed the livestock. Before the first snow in November, Lee had finished a cabin and had taken the cattle to the banks of the Big Cottonwood Creek where he found some natural pasture and took up land.
    A Mormon Chronicle
The Diaries of John d. Lee 1848-1876 2 vols
editied and annotated by Robert Cleland and Juanita Brooks
  1849, Oct 11
John Willard LEE, born 11Oct 1849 mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1850, Oct 16
Louisa Evaline LEE, born 16 Oct 1850 mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1853, May 26
Samuel Gulley LEE, born 26 May 1853 mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1857, May 14
Ezra Taft LEE, born 14 May 1857 mother - Aggatha Ann.
  1859 Diary, 1859: twenty-four pages of diary and letters from 1873 to 1876. All published in the above volume.