Excerpts From The History of Lewis Barney: From His Birth to Arrival in Salt Lake City. *

Lewis Barney was the son of Charles Barney and Mercy Yeoman. Charles was the son of Luther Barney and Niber Abigail Winship. On the maternal side, his grandfather was Stephen Yeoman, and his grandmother was Abigail Fountain. His parents settled land in Western between Buffalo and Batavia. There were very few white settlers in this area.

Lewis Barney was born in New York, on Holland Purchase Land, Cayuga County on September 8, 1808. At the age of three, his father moved to Ohio on the waters of Owl Creek in Knox County, in a little town by the name of Clinton near Mount Vernon. They lived in the town of Clinton about four years, and then moved to a place nine miles away. Here his father opened a farm. But they had the misfortune of having their home burned with nearly all its contents. They were left without shelter from the cold and storms of this season.

From this place, they moved about 100 miles South on the Point Creek in Fayette County, Ohio. It was here that he began his studies at school. In the spring of 1825 his father bought a soldier’s patent right to a quarter section of land lying on the waters of Spoon River in Illinois. They began making preparations to move to that land but his mother became ill and died in October of 1825. Lewis was in his 17th year.

Lewis, his father, and a brother drove a team and three horses in November 1825 to settle in Spoon River, Illinois. However, they stopped on the Sangamon River in Sangamon County, Illinois where the land was rich and fertile and thinly populated. They located themselves on Lake Fort of Last Creek where his father rented a farm from “father” James Turley.

On the 16th of July 1826, Lewis and his father returned to Ohio to pick up the rest of the family. In the process of returning, “a young lady of my age had taken quite a fancy to our family and proposed to go with us.”

Lewis’ father told her that it would not be prudent for him to take her with us unless she was married and have someone as a protector. So father declined taking her. Upon hearing this she made a solemn appeal to our sympathy not to leave her behind. Father told the girl (Debra Riffle) if she could make up her mind to become his companion he would take her with us. She readily consented, they stopped the team in the road and Father and she went to Uncle Walter Yeoman’s house and were married.”

The fall of 1830, Lewis hired out to Father Turley to feed and care for his stock. “One of his daughters became very fond and intimate with me. I also enjoyed her society very agreeably. She was considered the most lovely, handsome, and intelligent young lady in the county.” On the 11th day of April 1832 Lewis married Elizabeth Turner. He was 24 years old at this time. He then settled down on his farm and continued making improvements until he had 80 acres of land, a hewed log house, a frame house, suitable stables, cribs and corrals.

In 1838, Lewis and his father crossed into Iowa to see the country. They were pleased with what they found and located a claim of a thousand acres of land for each of them. So they sold their farms in Illinois and moved to their lands in Iowa and secured a government patent for it.

It is about this time that Lewis began to hear about the persecution of the Mormons in Missouri. He reports that the whole country was stirred up against them. And he says and from these reports,

“I, in common with the rest of the people, supposed that they were the most outrageous and hardened set of criminals that ever graced the earth.”

When the Mormons were driven from Missouri some scattered into Iowa. The principle part of them settled in Illinois. They sent out their missionaries preaching to the people setting forth their grievances and explanation of the trouble between themselves and the people in Missouri. Upon investigation, Lewis found that the Missourians were in the wrong and without provocation had without legal authority or process of law, driven the Mormons from their own lands and homes that they bought from the government.

He discovered that the Mormons were a religious people, however, at that time he cared nothing for religion.

“The Methodists and the Presbyterians had been trying to convert me to their faith. I came to the conclusion that religion of every kind was a hoax, and that none was right, and that all preachers of religion were hypocrites, and were preaching for money and popularity.”

Lewis’ introduction to the Mormon Church came when he saw two Mormon elders walking along the road with their valises in their hands. “This reminds me of the way the Savior sent out his disciples when he was on the earth preaching the gospel.” He reports that he went to hear them more through curiosity than anything else.

After a year and a half of careful investigation, he become acquainted with Joseph Smith and the Mormon people generally, and with their principles and found them to be an honest, industrious, and misrepresented people. He presented myself for baptism.

“I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by in May 1840, in the Mississippi River. I was confirmed a member of the church under the hands of Joseph Smith. In a short time, we had a branch of about 30 members located about 60 miles from Nauvoo.”

“The other brothers in our branch wanted to become better acquainted with the prophet and wanted to sell out and move to Nauvoo. I was opposed to this. So I went to Nauvoo to see the prophet Joseph Smith in relation to this matter. I laid the case before him and he advised me not to sell. I told him they would not believe me. And I wished that he would put it on paper, which he did. So I took the letter, went back and presented it to the branch, but they still persisted in selling and going to Nauvoo in opposition to the instruction of Joseph Smith.”

“The brethren of the branch were still resolved on selling out and moving to Nauvoo through the influence of Benjamin Leyland. Father sold his farm for $2200. It was worth $10,000. And I also sold my possessions. We then moved to Nauvoo. There I became familiar with Joseph Smith and with the Smith family. I found them an honest, industrious family of people and much respected by all that knew them.”

“I bought a city lot from brother and built a frame house on it. Father also bought a house and lot in Nauvoo and we lived in Nauvoo that year. But not being accustomed to city life, we bought each of us a quarter of a section of Prairie land about 12 miles from Nauvoo. I paid (in and silver) $750 for my land. I then paid $400 more for improvements on the land. Part of the time we lived on the farm and part of the time in Nauvoo. We attended most of the meetings and received many instructions upon the principles of the gospel. We enjoyed peace for a short time.”

“One day, being in the company with Joseph and several others, Joseph said he needed a little money and if he had it, he could put it to a better use than any other person in the world. I said nothing to him about it but went home and got $200 and went to Joseph’s store. Joseph was not present and I, being acquainted with said to him, “ I have a little money for Brother Joseph that I wish to let him have.” Brother Wight said “let me take it and I will hand it to him.” I told him to write me a receipt for it. While he was writing the receipt, brother Joseph stepped in. I said, “Brother Joseph I have some money for you. I was about to let Brother Wight have it for you. “ Joseph said, “ I am the man to take it” So I handed him the $200 for which he gave me his note payable six months after date. I continued working on my farm building and improving my place until I got 80 acres of land enclosed with a good fence.”

“Brother Joseph was continually harassed by the mob from Missouri with vexations and lawsuits, which stirred up the people of Illinois, until the Illinois legislature repealed the Nauvoo charter and left the inhabitants of Nauvoo exposed to all the insults and abuses that the mob felt disposed to inflict upon them. I became a witness to these things; wicked, unjust abuses which gave me of a more firm belief that all the former reports of their persecutions were true and were heaped upon them without cause or provocation.”

“Some of the brethren were in favor of having Joseph go to Carthage and stand his trial and said it would all come out right and he would be acquitted and that would put an end to the trouble. I told them that if brother Joseph ever went to Carthage he would never get away alive. I lived in the neighborhood of Carthage about 3 miles from town and knew their intent; wicked hatred against the prophet and the Mormons. It was their intention to get him there and assassinate him and that was the reason they got up the prosecution against him.”

“The whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints was bathed in tears and mourning for the loss of the prophet and patriarch. The mob supposed if Joseph was out of the way it would put an end to Mormonism as they called it. So things were peaceable for about a year.”

“The mob again commenced their depredations, by driving the Saints that lived in settlements outside of Nauvoo from their homes and setting them on fire and destroying their crops and killing their stock. Most of the Saints that lived outside Nauvoo were driven into the city.

“About this time, a committee of three men came to me to try and get me to give up Mormonism. They said we know you are an honest man and we feel sorry for you. If you will give up Mormonism and the book of Mormon, you are welcome to stay with us and we will protect you. I told them that what they were doing was very cruel and I could not comply with their request. So they left me to my own destruction. Soon after seven armed men rode up and said, well Mr. Barney do you have a gun? If you have, we want it. I told them I had and knew how to use it and perhaps I might need it and could not spare it. One of them searched the house but found no gun. I had expected them, so hid my gun under the fence on the way to Nauvoo. When they could not find the gun they said.”

“Well Mr. Barney, we will give you until tomorrow morning to get away and then we will be here to burn your house and if you are here we will have to take action. So you had better be gone. They rode off. I set to work making the necessary preparations for leaving my hard earned home. I had the previous year, set out an orchard of 100 Apple trees and as many peach trees and other shrubbery expecting to make a permanent home on the land. I paid my money for and held the deeds in my possession all the time.”

“Following this incident. I harnessed my horses hitched them to the wagon and loaded in what things I could and drove down to Nauvoo to my house in the city.”

“About a week later I went to my farm and found that my pork hogs were gone. I went to my nearest neighbor to see if he knew anything about my hogs. He said your hogs had gotten into my cornfield and was tearing down my corn so I had to shut them up to save my corn. Not wishing to get into a quarrel with him I asked him what the damage was. He said five dollars. I paid the money and we turned the hogs out of the pen and began taking them back to my farm. Brother Patten, however, advised me not to do so, but to take them direct to Nauvoo, so we took them into the city.”

“I made arrangement with Colonel () Steven Markham to send teams to the farm to bring my grain to Nauvoo. As we were forced to leave Nauvoo that winter I had no need of any more grain than we could use, so I let those who were destitute have the greater part of my grain to keep them through the winter. There being a call for volunteers and teams to assist the poor from Nauvoo I volunteered my services and two wagons and teams to help the Saints out of Nauvoo. And on the seventh day of February 1846, I crossed the Mississippi River in company with the exiled Saints.”

“We were mobbed and driven from our hard earned homes and firesides in the dead of winter to perish with cold and hunger for no other cause than that we dare believe in the word of the Lord contained in his revelations to man on the earth.”

“We camped on 8 miles West of Nauvoo. There we stayed three weeks exposed to the most severe storms of snow and cold weather that occurred that winter. Our women and children trailing from one wagon to another knee deep in snow, many times nearly frozen to death. On reaching the summit between the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers, the company made a halt for the purpose of taking a last and peering look at the Nauvoo Temple, the spire of which was then glittering in the bright sun.”

“During the trip to Garden Grove, I was loaded with goods belonging to one of the Nauvoo merchants. We made slow progress on our journey. The mud in camp was six or eight inches deep. It was difficult for the women and children to get from one wagon to the other.”

“After several days we reached Garden Grove. Here the Twelve held a council and decided to leave part of the camp to put in a crop of corn and garden stuff and other things such as were needed to sustain themselves and those that should follow after the camp in the fall. At this place I was discharged and turned back for my own family.”

“When I was discharged and turn back for my own family, I asked the brother, the Nauvoo merchant, to pay my fair back, but he refused to let me have any. However his wife gave me $0.30. I told her I had three rivers to ferry on the way back and that I must have more than $0.30 to pay my bills crossing the river’s. This was all the money she had so I went to brother Kimball and laid the case before him. He handed me a dollar and said, “ I will give you a dollar for him. Go and you shall be blessed.” So I took the dollar and about half a bushel of crackers that Colonel Steven Markham gave me and started back to get my own family.”

“On the way back, I was hailed by a man living by the road in a log cabin. He asked me if I was going to Montrose. I told them I was. He said, ‘He wanted to get to Montrose if he could get someone to take him.’ I could take him there as I had two wagons and teams. He said, “He had 800 pounds of freight and a wife and two children. If you will take me to Montrose I will give you one dollar per hundred for the freight and would board me and pay my ferry fees across the rivers.’ I was treated with the greatest respect and kindness the whole journey, being blessed according to brother Kimball’s word. I was paid eight dollars according to our agreement and then I set to work and got my family and brother Luther’s family ready. We loaded our little effects into the wagon and left our homes and took up the line of march for the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.”

“We picked up my father and his family at Des Moines and then traveled along the south side of the Des Moines River as far as Rockkoon fork. We continued traveling in the Southwest course along the dim trail in order to strike the Mormon Trail. The first day after we started, Henry (David’s Great Grandfather) one of the children, was taken sick with a burning fever. The next day Joseph, another of the children, was taken down sick. The children continued getting worse. One day I was walking by the side of my team with Joseph the baby in my arms and all of a sudden he threw himself back straightened himself out and fell back limber and lifeless and my arms. I said, ‘Here Betsy the child is dead,’ and handed it to her. She took the child and pressed it to her breast exclaiming, ‘Oh my God have mercy on us.’ At that moment the child opened its eyes and commenced to recover and continued getting better until it was entirely well.”

“In Bullocks Grove on Log Creek we had death, sickness, sorrow and famine in our camp. We built houses, cut hay and prepared for the coming winter. Through my illness I had become so weak I could not cut more than a rod before I would be obliged to lie down and rest. In this way, we continued until we cut 25 to 30 tons of hay. After we finished stacking our hay and building our houses we started to Missouri for provisions.”

“We went into Missouri and worked and got a load of corn and bacon and took it back to our families at the bluffs. I then took my horses and went back to Missouri to winter. Working for grain and horse feed and such other things, as we needed. In the spring I took a lot of provisions and went back to the bluffs, to see my family and to find out what was going on and what arrangements were being made for the continuance of our journey into the wilderness. I went over to where the twelve and body of church had encamped for the winter. On arriving there, I met my old friend Steven Markham and Heber C. Kimball. They told me there was going to be a company raised to go and find a home for the Saints. They asked me if I could go with them. I told them I could. Then I asked him how long it would be before they would start. They said in about two weeks. I said that would give me time to get to Missouri and get a lot of provisions to leave with my family. Then I would be on hand and ready to go with them. I brought back a lot of provisions from Missouri for my wife and three children. As soon as this was done, I took one wagon and a span of horses and started for winter quarters.”

“The company of volunteers was called together by Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball and entered into service on the eighth day of April 1847. On the ninth, the camp started from winter quarters by orders of President Brigham Young and traveled about 15 miles, and halted by a grove of timber and waited for the arrival of the Twelve apostles with President Young at their head. They reached our camp on the evening of the 14th of April 1847. The next morning we took up the march westward, ‘penetrating the unexplored regions of far West.’ Singing the songs of Zion, telling stories and adventures, and passing the time very agreeably around campfires that night.”

“We remained there three or four days organizing the companies of tens, fifties, and divisions. The camp was organized in two divisions known as the first and second division. The first was called Brigham’s division the second was Heber’s division. These divisions were organized into companies of tens with their captains, cooks and teamsters. Colonel O. P. Rockwood took charge of the first division and Colonel Steven Markham took charge of the second division. I was with Colonel Markham in the same wagon under Norton Jacobs, he being a captain of ten I belonged to. There were also 25 hunters organized and set apart to hunt game for the benefit of the whole camp.”

“The hunters were successful in killing game and supplying the camp with wild meat such as antelope, hares, ducks, geese, and prairie hens. One day as our horses were feeding at noon I saw five or six antelope passing by. I took my rifle and started after them. One of the hunters called after me and ordered me to come back saying, ‘you are not one of the hunters and no man is allowed to hunt game but those that are chosen to hunt.’ So I came back a good deal out of humor as I thought I could kill game as well as some of the hunters. So I gave up all hopes of hunting and as I had been raised on the frontier and had become very fond of the sport, it was a great cross to my feelings to be denied the privilege of hunting game in the country for it was so plentiful.”

“We continued our journey up the Platte River without a track chart, our guide only the hand of the Lord to lead us. President Brigham Young and Hebrew C. Campbell going ahead of the camp for half a mile to 3 miles telling the camp to follow their tracks which invariably proved to be the best route to travel. We halted our teams for a day or two. The camp had the privilege to go hunting, all except enough for a strong guard to take care of the wagons and teams.”

“So I, in company with several others, went out to try our skill in hunting game. We had not gone far before brother Woodruff came galloping after us calling us to hurry back to camp telling (us that) President Young and Kimball had discovered a large body of Indians moving toward the camp. So we turned back as fast as we could. Orders were given that the cannon be loaded and fired several times making the hills fairly tremble. This was done to frighten the Indians and let them know that we had big guns in camp. Through the night the guard was doubled with an occasional salute from the “old sow” as she was called by most of the boys. Morning came and there were no Indians. After breakfast, the teams all in readiness, started out five teams abreast with a line of riflemen on each side of the wagons and teams. In this way, we traveled all day seeing fresh signs of the Indians through the days travel. But we saw no Indians. The excitement being over, we resumed our customary mode of traveling.”

“Game now became scarce. The hunters finding none that they could get. Fresh meat became scarce. Our mess being without meat for several days, Colonel Markham said to me, ‘Barney I wish you would take your gun and go out and kill some meat for I am nearly starved. I cannot eat that strong bacon.’ In reply I said, ‘ Colonel call in your hunters for your meat. You are on the committee that chose the hunters and if you want to me to hunt why did you not choose me as a hunter. I am not one of the hunters. So you’ll have to go to them that are, for your meat.’ He said, ‘the reason I did not have you chosen was that I wanted you to take care of the team and wagon. You know the care of the whole division rests on me, so I could not take care of the wagons and team.’ I said, ‘then to take care of the wagon and team is my business and I will do it, and the hunters must furnish you, your meat. Besides the hunters report that there is no game to be seen in the country. Do you think I can kill game when there is none?’ This ended the dialogue for this time.”

“We continued our journey. The next day, after the horses were turned loose to graze for noon, the Colonel came to me again and said. ‘Barney I shall starve for I cannot eat anything we have in our wagon. I do really wish you would go and try to kill something.’ I said, ‘Colonel you know the hunters have killed nothing for the last eight or 10 days and they say there is no game to be found. Now you want me to go hunting where there is nothing to kill. When the game was all around us I had not the privilege to take my gun and go after some antelope that was passing by, when we are stopped for noon without being called back by Porter Rockwell one of the chosen hunters and you stood by and said nothing to him about it. My feelings were hurt at that time, however, if you will find a man to take care the team and let me choose a man to go with me, I will go and see if I can find anything.’ The Colonel said he would do so. I then chose John Norton to go with me. We had not gone more than half a mile from camp until we saw three antelope laying down two or three hundred yards ahead of us. They jumped up and ran about half a mile and stopped.”

“I said, ‘John if we are careful, we will get one of them.’ So we managed to get in about 200 yards of them. ‘I know John you have the best rifle, try a shot at them.’ He pulled away and at the sound of the gun one of them went bobbling off. We followed up. Presently I got a shot, which brought him to the ground. It proved to be a nice fat buck…. After we returned to camp the Colonel soon noised it through the camp that Barney killed an antelope, the first killed in the last 10 days.”

“This was the very thing I wanted for that gave me notoriety among the officers and chagrined the hunters. The next day I killed two more. After this I had full liberty to hunt when and where I pleased, and no one dare say a word against it. The next day, I had the good fortune to kill three more antelope. By this time, the eyes of the whole camp were on me, as being as good a hunter, if not the best in the camp. I continued to bring from one to three antelope a day.”

“Finally, one day, brother Heber C. Kimball came to me and asked if I would be his hunter, and furnish him with meat. I told him I would.”

“As we proceeded to the head of Echo Canyon, the camp was under the necessity of laying over two or three days on account of president Brigham Young being sick. He getting better, we continued our journey, and struck camp a little below the south of Echo Canyon, on the Weber River. President Young getting worse and not been able to travel, the company was divided. Colonel Rockwood’s division remained to take care of the president. Colonel Markham, after receiving instructions from the President, proceeded with his division. We crossed over the mountain, struck on by Canyon Creek, working our way up this Creek, cutting willows making fords and bridges for the passage of the wagon train. We left this stream and passed over Big Mountain and came on another small stream. We followed it down a short distance then crossed over Little Mountain and came on to Immigration Creek and followed it down to the mouth making the road as we went. At the mouth of the Canyon it became very rocky and delayed our camp one-day.”

“I wishing to see the Great Salt Lake valley worked my way down the creek through the brush and entered the valley. I went on a little rise of ground, cast my eyes over the valley, saw the Great Salt Lake glistening in the sun in the distance. On the 22nd of July 1847, the advance division of the Pioneer’s camp of Latter-day Saints drove into the Great Salt Lake Valley. They camped for the night on a small stream of water to the left of the mouth of the canyon. The next day we moved up on .”

On the 24th, the division under Colonel Rockwood came up with the president. Arrangements were made and the whole camp consisting of 75 wagons, 143 pioneers, and a small detachment of the moved upon the Temple block. President Brigham Young then called the camp together and asked the pioneers if they were satisfied with the place, or whether they wished to explore the country still further to find a better place for location for the church as a home, and the center spot for the gathering of Israel. The response of the whole camp was that they were satisfied and believed this was a good place to make a stand and locate the Saints, with the exception of two who thought we might perhaps find a better place to make a beginning, to which President young said, ‘you may explore the whole region of the mountains and you will not find a better place. I know this place, as well as I know my own home and farm in the states. I’ve seen this place many times and right here will be the Temple. Up yonder is Ensign Peak where the ensign to all nations will be raised. I’ve seen this place the ensign raised, and thousands of people gathered on this ground, by vision many times.’”

“He then called on the pioneers to join in with him, and the whole camp gave three grand shouts of ‘Hosanna to God and the Lamb for the deliverance of his people from their enemies, and from the violence.’”

“In August, a dam was built across City Creek and the whole camp was rebaptized. I was immersed by Charles Shumway before having the baptism confirmed under the hands of President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards with Kimball being the voice.”

* This autobiography [a reminiscent rather than contemporary account] is taken from just over 120 nearly legal-sized pages of narrative with leaves of the Deseret News from1879 forming the end papers of the compilation. A family member donated this document to the Church Archives in 1943.
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