Family says goodbye to baby boy: “A crowd of white balloons floated into clear blue sky from the American Fork Cemetery as family, friends and well-wishers said farewell to 18-month-old Colum Jacob Pack during a graveside service on T
This is a talk presented by Phylis Tonks (a John Pack Descendant) at a ‘Daughters of Utah Pioneers’ meeting in St. George in the spring of 2011
John Pack was my great-great grandfather. He was born to George Pack and Phylotte Green on May 29, 1809 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. He was one of twelve children. When John was eleven years old, the family moved to a farm at Hounsfield in New York State. It was close to Watertown, which was an active industrial center, and like many farm families, they visited the town as often as once a week on market day.
In October 1832, John, then twenty-three years old married Julia Ives, my great-great grandmother, in Watertown. John had purchased the farm from his father and as part of the transaction, agreed to care for his parents, who were now in their sixties.
By this time, Joseph Smith had received his revelations, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized. Missionaries were being sent all over from Kirtland, and John and Julia probably had heard of the “Mormonites,” of the “golden Bible,” and of “Joe Smith.” By 1835, traveling missionaries found John’s parents, George and Phylotte Pack, and they believed, and were baptized. Once in the Church, they could not resist the attraction of gathering with the Saints at Kirtland, Ohio, so John helped them “fit out”–get together the wagon, animals and whatever they could take with them and they left for Kirtland in the fall of 1835.
John and Julia had been married nearly four years now, and were still living on the farm in Hounsfield. They had had several discussions with visiting Elders, including Heber C. Kimball and Joseph Smith, Sr., but because of John’s strong-mindedness, he was not easily converted. Once converted, though, John’s and Julia’s lives would never be the same. They were baptized in March of 1836, and in the early spring of 1837, they sold their farm, packed all their goods and headed for Kirtland to be with John’s parents, George and Phylotte. It was here that they renewed friendships with Heber C. Kimball and other apostles and personally met Joseph Smith.
John Pack’s year in Kirtland – the spring of 1837 to the spring of 1838- was a terrible time for them because of the persecutions. John purchased a farm on the Chagrin River outside of Kirtland, intending to build a sawmill, but it was not to be. The Pack’s attended meetings in the Kirtland Temple, and they were loyal to the prophet and his defenders like Brigham Young.
In April, after selling the farm at a loss, John and Julia headed for Missouri with their two children, four-year old Ward Eaton and baby Lucy, less than a year old, and John’s parents, George and Phylotte. This was a difficult 500 mile trip in a wagon, and it took a month to arrive in Far West. They bought a farm on the Grand River, some thirteen miles away.
It was going to be a long, hot summer with many terrible things going on. Oliver Cowdery, David and John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and Lyman Johnson had been excommunicated and were very vocal dissenters. It seemed as if the whole area was in turmoil. Milling around were anti-Mormon mobs and Danite bands organized by a Mormon to fight fire with fire, along with bands of militia trying to keep peace.
One day, a company of immigrants came, bringing word that John’s sister, Phoebe’s husband had just died at Huntsville, Missouri, and that Phoebe was deathly sick. John and Julia headed out the next day to go get her.
Before they reached the ferry, a company of about 30 armed men met them and asked if they were Mormons. John answered with a simple “yes,” and they were told to follow them to the group’s camp. Immediately they were accosted by Sashiel Woods, a Methodist minister and leader of this mob force. He told Julia “We take you for a spy,” and “You can bid your husband goodbye; you will never see him again.”
Julia was told to go to a nearby log house, but strongly protesting, she said she would die with John. John leaned over and whispered, “Stay with the wagon and take care of the horse. I am not afraid. I will be back soon.” Led by Woods, a group of five or six men took John through the brush to a grassy clearing. Woods then delivered an ultimatum: “Here will be your grave. We are going to kill you unless you deny Joseph Smith.”
John swallowed hard. He was not one to be cowed. “Joseph Smith is a prophet of God,” he said. “Reverend Woods, you claim to be a preacher of the gospel. So do I, and I will meet you at the day of judgment.”
At that point, no one seemed willing to shoot him, and finally one of the men standing by the wagon called out, “Let that damned Mormon go.” John was brought back to the wagon, and the entire group escorted them to the ferry with the warning, “If we ever find you around here again, you won’t get off so easy.”
Arriving at Huntsville, they found Phoebe near death, so they left her three oldest children with another family and brought Phoebe and her six-month old baby back to their own home on the Grand River. Things were not much better there. Rufus, John’s brother was down with the chills and fever, and John’s 69 year- old father George was seriously ill. Sometime in October he died and was buried in Far West.
Fear of the mobs drove John to move his family into Far West. He purchased some logs and on the edge of town put up a one-room structure. It was in this “poorly lighted and poorly heated room” that twenty persons lived during the winter of 1838-39. After a number of mob encounters and the Battle of Crooked River, Governor Boggs issued the infamous extermination order that stated “the Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state.”
Conditions deteriorated rapidly with mob violence everywhere. After the Haun’s Mill massacre, the state militia descended on Far West, and Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, George Robison and Parley P. Pratt were taken prisoners and escorted to Liberty Jail. Brigham Young was left in charge.
Finally, in February of 1839 John Pack and his family left for Illinois. He settled in Perry, Illinois for about a year and then moved to Nauvoo in April of 1840. By this time, Joseph Smith and the other leaders had escaped and come back to Nauvoo. John had served a ten month mission, preaching in southern Illinois. The Nauvoo Legion was organized, and John became a captain and then a major in 1843.
Nauvoo grew rapidly, the first story of the Temple was built, John and Julia received their endowments and were sealed, and many new doctrines were introduced, including baptism for the dead and polygamy.
John Pack was called on another mission to New Jersey along with Ezra Taft Benson. They were to preach the gospel and also to promote Joseph Smith’s plans to run for president. While on this mission, in June of 1844, Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed.
Finally, after hearing of their deaths, John returned to Nauvoo. Here, he became a member of the “Council of Fifty” and he worked in the Temple with Julia where they received all their endowments, and in January of 1846, John added three wives to his family. He was now 36, and Julia was 29, with five children of their own.
Opposition to the Mormons was now fierce, and on February, 1846, John and his entire family left for the Rocky Mountains. Their 10-month old Julia died and they moved into Winter Quarters.
In the spring of 1847, John was called to be one of the pioneers to the Rocky Mountains and they were led by the Twelve, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. After many trials, they reached the valley in July, where Brigham Young became very sick with mountain fever, and had to rest a few days while others pushed ahead. John Pack was in charge of the main company, bringing it into Emigration Canyon.
On the morning of July 22, he joined a small party of eight to go into the valley by horseback. Some in this group were Orson Pratt, George A. Smith, Erastus Snow and Porter Rockwell. “This is the Place Monument” has one panel showing John Pack in this group.
John Pack and the other pioneers returned to Winter Quarters in the fall of 1847 to get their families, and by April of 1848 the entire company started across the plains, reaching the Salt Lake Valley in September of 1848 after suffering many great trials.
John served seven missions, including a three -year mission to France and the Channel Islands. He died April 4, 1885, leaving many descendants. He had married eight wives and had 43 children.
Kathleen Skinner was working at the Family History Library help desk when Myron Seegmiller walked in and talked to her. Kathleen then sent me (Ernalee Jones) an e-mail informing me of the discussion.
Myron then sent me an email on November 24, 2010 stating: “I was fortunate to meet Katherine at the Family History Library last week. I’m pretty sure that Jessie Bell and William immigrated to the US together.” (I, Ernalee Jones have proven that Jessie and William did come across to American and to Utah together.)
William ended up in southern Utah, but I’m (Myron Seegmiller) not sure why. He met Sarah Ann Leany and they raised their family in Leeds. Thomas Stirling and Elizabeth immigrated later and settled with William.
Thomas and William both died and are buried in Leeds. After, Elizabeth went to Salt Lake to live with Ann Stirling Whyte and died there.
Myron Seegmiller has visited Salt Lake cemetery several times, but he has not found her grave yet.
I then contacted Myron Seegmiller and found out he is related to William Stirling. William Stirling is a Brother of Jessie Belle Stirling Pack.
Myron Seegmiller’s grandfather was David.
William went to Forfar while he was on his mission back to Scotland. He made family history notes in a book while on his mission in 1898. (Under Mission President David O. McKay). The book is called the Stirling Family Red Book.”
“One of Myron Seegmiller’s cousins, Beverly Evans scanned the book for all of us a couple of years back. It is a real treasure.” (He promised to try to get me a copy of the red book.)
After William and Thomas died, Elizabeth Bell Stirling moved to Salt Lake and lived with her daughter Ann Stirling Whyte. Ann and Elizabeth are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Myron Seegmiller said his family genealogist has done work on the Stirling line and Bell line. They have documented some lines back to the 1700’s. The great great grandfather of William Stirling and Jessie Bell Stirling Pack, can be one of a possibile 7 names.
I have found Ann Stirling Whyte and Elizabeth Bell Stirling’s grave sites in the Salt Lake City Cemetery (lot 18 off Grand Avenue between Center Street and Cypress Avenue). Because of the snow I have not been able to see the head stones. John and Julie Pack are in B section and east of that is A section and east of that is I section where Elizabeth and Ann are buried.
Myron Seegmiller shared a picture taken by Mitchell and Co. of Forfar and Kiriemuir “possibly of James Bell and Mary Bell Miller.” I do not know where James and Mary Bell Miller fit into the family line. He also shared pictures of:
1. Elizabeth Bell Stirling as an adult woman and as an older woman.
2. Elizabeth Bell Stirling’s Coffin with flowers on the coffin taken in a house.
3. Thomas Stirling as an adult man
4. Thomas Stirling’s head stone in Leeds Utah.
5. William Stirling’s head stone in Leeds.
The original pictures are in the family home in Leeds, Utah.
William Stirling built the family home in Leeds. It is a Utah Historical Site. Myron Seegmiller’s grandfather, David, lived in it during his life. One of Myron’s first cousins lives in the home today.
If you are interested in a copy of the pictures Myron Seegmiller sends, or any additional information, please contact me.
~ Ernalee Jones, JPFA VP-Jessie Bell Stirling
New John Pack Writings Found
In the September 1851 issue of “L’Etoile du Deseret” (The Deseret Star), the informative magazine published by John Taylor during the time that he and John Pack were in northern France founding a mission, there was an account of a joyous excursion on July 24th, 1851, on the Isle of Jersey, with John as president of a group of Saints, to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the entry of the Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. John gives an impressive address, of which the following is an excerpt (translated from the French):
“I am happy to be here amongst you, under such favorable circumstances, to celebrate with solemn ceremony the day when the Pioneers, of whom I am one, entered the valley, today the place where the Saints of God Most High live in peace. Already seven years have passed since the martyrdom of the Prophet of the Lord, since the earth drank the blood of this just and sainted man, he whose heart, filled with love for humanity, did not abandon his friends even at the moment of death, thus giving himself in sacrifice for his brethren. . . . I give thanks to God for having given me the privilege of living in these times, for having permitted me to see this day, after [many miles] of journeying with my brethren, who, like me, had left their families, their homes, to come and declare the Gospel of Christ. . . . I thank God for permitting me to see his Kingdom progress among the nations; for many prophets and patriarchs have desired to see such things, but have died without doing so.”
You will be able to read the entire speech in the new biography of John Pack when it is published. Completion of this major work is still in hand; we look forward to being able to report a publication date in a future issue of the Newsletter.
~Alison Pack, JPFA Treasurer and VP-Lucy Giles
Mount Pleasant firefighters celebrate the year
Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune
First to be honored were the Years of Service honorees: 10 year awards: Chad Graves, James Riley; 15 year awards: Adam Decker Michael Kirkwood, John Pack; …
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