Monday, March 8, 2010

Joseph Smith Morris 1849-1904

Joseph Smith Morris was born at 5:15am on January 5th 1849 to John Morris and Mary Ormond in St. Marystown, Pembrokeshire, South Wales.  When his father John was released from his mission, he was appointed to bring a company of Saints to America and he helped them to prepare to emigrate.
Joseph was only 21 months old when they set sail on the ship "Joseph Badger" on October 17th, 1850.  They were on the water 5 weeks and 1 day before arriving in New Orleans harbor.  From there they sailed up the Mississippi River on a steamer and just before they arrived at their destination of St. Louis, Cholera struck.  They stopped in a small mining camp 6 miles from St. Louis at a place called Gravois.  They stopped there to work and earn the necessary funds to buy an outfit to cross the plains in.

Joseph, along with his father and half sister who was 11, got Cholera.  On September 6th, 1851, Joseph's father John died from the disease leaving his mother alone in a strange land with 2 sick children to care for and she only had .95 cents to her name.  Joseph's mother Mary earned what she could and sold some of their belongings to obtain passage on a steamboat to take them to Kanesville to join Mary's father, John Ormond.  He had emigrated before them in March of 1849 and was living and working there to get money and supplies to cross the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.  Six weeks to the day after her husband John Morris died, Mary joined her father in Kanesville.  The children recovered through the course of the winter.

Joseph's grandfather, John Ormond had lost three of his daughters, Dorothy, Letisha and Elinor to Cholera and his son John Ormond Jr. had left that spring with a company of pioneers to cross the plains.  He was hired by a man to drive a wagon and some cattle across the plains.  So Mary, her father and little sister Elizabeth, worked together doing odd jobs, selling baked goods to the emigrants and saving until they could continue their journey.  By the following June they were ready.  They crossed the plains in the "Joseph Outhouse" company and arrived in the Salt Lake valley on September 6th, 1852.

After arriving in the valley, Joseph's mother Mary Ormond Morris  met and married a widower from Wales by the name of William George.  His wife had died shortly after arriving in the Valley, leaving him alone with a little son, who was a year younger than joseph, who was now 3 1/2 years old.  they moved to Brigham City, then to Ogden.  Food was scarce that winter.  They had milk and cheese from the two cows that William brought across the plains.  They boiled sego lily roots to eat.  In the spring they planted crops but the crickets took it that first summer.  Joseph's step father William worked for others and he rationed wheat and saved it for the next growing season.

When Johnson's Army approached Utah to make war with the Mormons, they along with others moved south in April 1858.  Their wagon was so heavily loaded that they had to walk.  Joseph was about 9 and he helped to herd the animals.  By this time, Mary had 3 more sons, one died as an infant, and she had a baby girl 6 weeks old.  Mary walked and carried her baby the 200 plus miles.  One of the littlest boys was strapped on top of a crate that was tied to the wagon and carried their pigs.  They went as far as Corn Creek and stayed near Grandpa John Ormond, who was living there and raising lviestock.  They returned to North Ogden after the Army scare was over and lived in Ogden a few more years.

In the fall of 1863 they were called to go south again in what was called the "Dixie Move."  They went as far as Beaver, and one of the oxen died, so they spent a very cold winter there.  In the spring they returned to Corn Creek where they settled.  Corn creek was on the route of the Overland Stage.  Soon Joseph's mother Mary and stepfather William George were keeping the Overland Station, for the stage and mail.  Mary also ran a hotel.  Later they ran a little store, and they also raised livestock. 

Joseph grew up with and had many friends among the Indians.  There were a tribe of friendly indians who lived in the area and Chief Kanosh was a frequent visitor in their home.  Joseph could speak their language as he knew Welsh and the dialect was very similar to the Indian dialect.  In 1867 when Joseph was 18, he was called along with others to drive a team back to help bring some of the Saints across the plains.  In search of work, Joseph began going the 25 miles from Corn Creek to Beaver and Greenville to work on farms there.   It was there he met his sweetheart.  He called her his "bonnie lass", Mary Easton.   Much of the time after their marriage is described in the last spotlight on Mary Easton Morris.

The Morris Family in front of their log home.

Joseph was ordained a High Priest and set apart as Bishop of Greenville and served 13 years in that position.  He was always striving to attain spiritual and mental growth for himself and his children.  Joseph placed great value on learning.  In his home was a large bookcase filled with books, not only on the Gospel but on many subjects and he worked constantly to gain more knowledge.  He encouraged the children to study and read.  Music was deemed of great importance in his home.  Singing and playing the organ was a regular activity.  The children learned to play, not by note, but by ear, and found much enjoyment in doing this.  They shared their talents in the community.  Joseph passed away on August 9th, 1904 at the young age of 55.

I found most of the above history from some of his own words written by his granddaughter and other church records and histories in posession of other cousins.  There is a more in depth missionary journal from his time in New Zealand as well.   He is also listed in the site as well as on the list of passengers with the Joseph Outhouse company on the LDS Church history web site.  There is a bit of information in "Monument to Courage", a book I found on the settling of the Beaver County area.   On a personal note, I think I tend to resonate with Joseph.  I am working my own "Aberdare".  We both have a love of books and learning that expands beyond the church works.  I also play the piano by ear.  I am pretty sure that if our dear Joseph were able to speak to us right now  he would describe the great beautiful garden that he is tending in heaven.  He would also tell us that Eden is right here on earth if we will just notice it.  Love and pay attention to our families for the time that we have them.  Continue to turn the hearts of your children to their fathers and mothers and those who have passed on before us.  Thanks for letting me share.  Tammy Eggen


JuliaS said...

What a great site to find of the family! Love seeing the pictures. I have seen your name before as I have been doing research. I am the Granddaughter of Laura Lavern Scott. Letticia Jane Morris' daughter. I currently live in Lindon Utah. My mother, Beth Davis, was born in Greenville. I guess basically we are related to every one of the early settlers. Edwards, Morris, Scott, Singleton, Davis. Would love to know where you are?

Tammy Eggen said...

Julia, I'm glad you found us. How did you find the blog? I am in Mapleton, Utah