JULIA ANN CHAPMAN LEE
20 August 1825 – 10 July 1852
Julia Ann Chapman was born 20 August 1825, in Eugene, Vermilion County, Indiana to Isaac Benjamin Chapman and Solona Brown Chapman. She married Isaac Lee and had a daughter Mariette, born 1846, Elizabeth Ann, born November 20, 1848, Eliza Ann, born December 20, 1850. Isaac helped build the Nauvoo Temple. He was a member of the Nauvoo Martial Bank. He started west with his father’s family in 1849, but his wife Julia Ann became ill on the trail, which delayed his coming. She died July 10, 1852 at Loops Fork, leaving him with three small daughters. He arrived in Utah in 1852 (the same year Isaac Moroni Chapman arrived in the valley with his three remaining sisters).
When Isaac Lee was forced, because of his wife’s illness, to pull his wagon out of Brother Benson’s train, he camped for a few days to allow her to recover. In spite of the fact that she had rest and fresh meat, she still remained weak. Her cough was sometimes violent. Concluding that they could not make the trip west this summer, they turned back and by easy stages made their way to Loup’s Fork. With good milk and the tender care of the sisters who were living there, Julia made a partial recovery. Feeling that his wife, during the winter, might have a better chance to recover back in Kanesville, Isaac made a bed for her in the wagon box, then slowly and carefully he returned to Missouri.
Immediately, Isaac set about finding a house. Although they were dismantling the houses at Winter Quarters, Isaac got a place there for temporary shelter. Being an experienced sawmill man, he found employment immediately. Leaving Julia in the hands of a few women still living in Winter Quarters, he began looking for a more personal place to live. He was unwilling to take her into Kanesville itself, for it was often ravaged with malaria and cholera. Finally he found a farm on the east bench above the river which had been abandoned by one of the Saints leaving for the West. He moved onto this farm and hauled one of the log houses from Winter Quarters and set it up in a protected ravine filled with trees and shrubs. Here Julia felt more at home.
Realizing that Julia was pregnant again, they both did everything they could to strengthen her for the ordeal. The baby came on a chilly night on the 19th of November 1850. For a time it was touch and go whether Julia would make it. The baby was farmed out to a big healthy Scandinavian woman who nursed it along with her own child. As the spring came, Julia ate dandelion greens, drank milk, and lay stripped to the skin in a protected place until her body was tanned like leather. During this summer, Isaac raised a crop on the land he occupied. Although she was not well, Julia lived comfortably through the winter of 1851, doing as little as possible, allowing her body to heal.
With the coming of spring, the brethren made a concerted drive to get all the Saints out of Kanesville. Other than for Julia’s health, Isaac was well equipped to travel. In the heat of the late spring, Julia gained some weight and felt pretty well. Deciding that they could safely make the trip, Isaac loaded the wagon, making a special bed for his wife. At first she did very well, cheerful that at last they could go west and be with their relatives. But as the trip continued, the strain began to tell. Some mornings she was unable to get up. When they crossed Loup’s Fork they again pulled out of the line, getting one of the Elders who lived at the Fork, Isaac and he administered to her. She seemed to relax and feel better, but during the night she lapsed into her last long sleep.
After they buried her, Isaac was so grief stricken that he sat for days, staring in front of him, felled by his tragedy. One evening James Walsh came to his fire and said,
“I have seen many tragedies along the trail, and I respect you for your grief, but life must go on. Now you owe your little ones an even greater responsibility than before. Now you must be both father and mother to them. Crying tears of anguish over your lost wife is right and proper, but you must never allow your grief to immobilize you. What would Julia want you to do? You have begun a great quest, which, unfortunately, she was too weak to finish. Now you must finish it for her.”
Out in the night Isaac walked for hours, asking why? Why? But with the coming of midnight, a peace enveloped him like a cloud. His beliefs taught him that although her body was dead, she, herself was still alive and would wait for him. He must not fail her. The next morning, 10 July 1852, he gathered a bunch of wild flowers and placed them at the base of the rude plank marker. They yoked up the oxen and started west.
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