History of Simeon Adams Dunn


Simeon Adams Dunn, son of Simeon Dunn and Sarah (Sally) Bath, was born August 7, 1803, in Groveland, Livingston County, New York. His father left his home and family when Simeon was but a few years old, and when he was seven years of age his mother died, leaving the children -- Mary, William, Simeon, and James alone in the world. His father joined the army in 1812 and surrendered his life to the cause. The children were taken care of by friends.

Simeon A. lived with a family by the name of Skinner for a number of years. He finally left New York and settled in Michigan, where he met a family by the name of Rawson, and on July 3, 1828, he married their daughter, Adeline.

They lived in Belleville, Van Buren, Wayne County, Michigan, in a fine farm home. They had animals, barns and orchards of fruit trees growing. Simeon was a hard worker and an able farmer, and they had a prosperous life. The oldest daughter, Adeline, named after her mother, was followed by Francis, and then Mary. In 1835 little Francis died at the age of three. Then, on March 3, 1836, Maria was born, but she died the first of April.

Those were heartbreaking years for the Dunn family. But soon after Maria died Simeon heard of the "Mormons" and became interested. Impressed by the Book of Mormon and its people, he named his son, born 19 February 1837, Mosiah. Mosiah was a twin to another son born that same day that they named Anariah, but Anariah died a few hours after his birth. Mosiah lived until 7 June 1837 and then he, too, passed on. Again the parents suffered tremendous heartbreak.

On March 22, 1838, Betsy was born to the family, thankfully, a healthy child who was to grow to maturity. About that same time, James Dunn, the brother of Simeon Adams Dunn, came to his home as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He preached the gospel in that neighborhood, and Simeon and his wife were baptized by him on 15 April 1839.

But simply embracing the gospel was not enough for Simeon. He had to see the prophet for himself, and perhaps offer his services to the growing church. In June 1840, Simeon set out on foot for Nauvoo, a distance of 500 miles. There, for the first time in his life, he saw a prophet of God.

The prophet's father gave him his patriarchal blessing. He was ordained an Elder and set apart to preach the gospel on his way home. He remained in Nauvoo a short time and returned home, still walking, to his family, which consisted of his wife Adeline and three children -- Adeline, Mary, and Betsy.

They arrived in Nauvoo August 15, 1840. The Prophet Joseph was there to meet them and shook all of their hands. Simeon purchased land from the Prophet on which to build their home. It was located near the Mansion House on Hyde and Parley Street. The children of the two families often played together. Simeon lived in that city until the Saints were driven out.

He was sent as a missionary to Canada in 1841, and to New York in 1844. He served as a bodyguard to the Prophet Joseph Smith, also night guard of the Nauvoo Temple.

On October 22, 1841, while the children were still very young, their mother died, and they were left to their father's care. He was tender and loving always to his children, which endeared him to them forever.

Simeon labored as a hand on the building of the Temple in Nauvoo. On November 8, 184l, the baptismal font was dedicated. The next year the Prophet introduced the temple ordinances to the Council of the Twelve, but the members of the church in general were to wait until the ordinances could be performed in the temple.

Then, on 19 June 1842, Simeon took Margaret Snyder to be his wife; they did not receive their endowments, although the ceremony was performed in the still uncompleted temple.

The family was again complete with both parents, and the whole world seemed to be brighter. It was a period of relative peace in the church.

The Prophet was often called upon to heal the sick, and the Dunn family could bear testimony to his power of healing. Once when Simeon was very sick and sent for the Prophet to come, Joseph laid his hands on Simeon's head and asked if Simeon had ever had the measles. Simeon answered, "No." "You will have them," replied the Prophet, and before he removed his hands from Simeon's head, Simeon was broken out with thick spots.

On 6 May 1843, a daughter, Susannah, was born to Simeon Adams Dunn and Margaret Snyder. A short time later the child became sick with what was called "black canker." Margaret took the baby to the Prophet, who then went with the family to a stream of water. Joseph took the baby, laid it across his hand, face down, and immersed it in the water. The baby recovered.

Simeon and his family often saw the Prophet riding on his favorite horse, Joe Duncan, at the head of the Nauvoo Legion on parade on the 4th of July. Joseph Smith was also a great sportsman and played ball on the green. No one could beat him at the game.

Due to the various political conflicts at the time with regard to the presidential election upcoming, the city of Nauvoo decided to put up its own candidate and avoid taking sides with one political faction or another. Joseph Smith was chosen as the logical candidate and he declared that in order to make his claim known, "every man in the city who is able to speak in public" should be sent out to "electioneer and make stump speeches." So, for this purpose, Simeon Adams Dunn returned to the state of New York where he had formerly lived. There he had old friends who might help him to spread the news of Joseph's candidacy.

On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot and killed while awaiting trial in Carthage jail. Simeon returned from New York in time to be present for the meeting on August 8, 1844, when the mantle of the Prophet Joseph Smith fell on Brigham Young. As Brigham Young arose to speak, the congregation saw the Prophet Joseph instead of Brigham Young, and they heard his voice as if he, himself, stood before them in life. It was unanimously accepted to sustain the Twelve as the First Presidency of the Church. Simeon remarked, upon leaving the meeting, "They need not hunt any further. Brigham Young is the man to lead us."

The work on the temple continued almost unabated despite the mob activities, which increased after the acquittal of the murderers of the Prophet and his brother. The charter of the city of Nauvoo was repealed and the saints were warned to leave the state or be the cause of much bloodshed, including their own. Brigham Young agreed to move the saints out, but requested time to prepare, sell their homes, etc., and not be molested in the process.

General Conference was held in the temple in October 1845, and, in December, the ordinance work was commenced by the general membership. Simeon was endowed and sealed to his wife on December 27, 1845.

The winter was harsh and cold, and on Wednesday, February 4, 1846, in the midst of a cold winter, the first of the Saints left Nauvoo, fearing for their lives at the hands of their neighbors. Simeon was not among those leaving, for Margaret was due to deliver their second child. On February 9, 1846, a son, Simeon, was born to them. On this same date a detachment of the governor's troops came into the city and caused a great deal of fuss.

At three thirty that afternoon the roof of the temple caught fire, but it was soon extinguished. A flatboat crossing the river overturned and sank. The governor's troops attempted to enter the temple, but were successfully stopped.

Amid all of this turmoil, the tiny baby and its mother were cared for by their family.

The ice began building up on the Mississippi River during the latter part of February. Many of the saints crossing the river in rafts were in great difficulty because of it. One young woman, Harriet Atwood Silver, from Vermont, was on a ferry traveling across the icy waters. One of the ropes broke and the boat went down, but, through hard work, they were all saved and traveled on to Winter Quarters.

Simeon stayed in Nauvoo after the main body of the saints had departed. The baby Simeon died shortly after its birth. Margaret never fully recovered from the trauma of the events and died, also, in Nauvoo.

On May 1, 1846, the Nauvoo Temple was publicly dedicated in the presence of about 800 saints. Soon after, in May, Simeon and his four girls left Nauvoo to follow the saints westward. They had two wagons, one yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows. The milk from the cows would be put in a can and hung on the back of the wagon. At night there would be butter for supper.

Mary drove one team and Simeon drove the other. When they came to a river that they could ford, Simeon would drive in and Mary would follow him. Sometimes, he would have to unload one wagon and put all their possessions up on boards where they would not get wet.

He stopped for the winter at Winter Quarters and furnished one wagon and one yoke of oxen for the first company that left for Utah.

While at Winter Quarters, Simeon met Harriet Atwood Silver. Simeon and his daughters needed a wife and mother for the long trip across the plains. Harriet needed a husband and companion. On January 3, 1847, they were married by Brigham Young.

Earlier, in 1846, Simeon had married Jane Caldwell, but when it was found that she was still married (her husband came after her), the marriage was ended and she was excommunicated. She gave birth to a son, Joseph Moroni, on February 12, 1847 at Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Alpheus P. Haws was also at Winter Quarters. When the Mormon Battalion was called out, Alpheus was Fourth Sergeant, Company "D". He married Simeon's oldest daughter, Adeline.

On May 16, 1848, Simeon, Harriet, and the girls left Winter Quarters. Harriet was a great help to the family. At first they all had no shoes. Once Simeon had stopped the wagons by a bed of prickly pears. Mary, not noticing the cactuses, jumped out of the wagon right into them. They had a terrible time getting the stickers out of her feet. Her dear father was so careful, but it was painful and Mary's feet were sore for a long time.

Then, while crossing the plains, they passed great herds of buffalo. It often seemed like the land was covered for miles with buffalo. The wagons would have to stop until they passed, as buffalo were very vicious if they were molested. Some of the men followed them to get meat as that was about all they would have. One of the men was badly gored.

Harriet took advantage of this encounter with the buffalo. She took pieces of buffalo robe and made shoes, with the wooly side in for warmth. She also made stockings for the girls from bits of buffalo wool, which the girls could gather from the willows by the riverbank where the buffalo came to drink. Harriet had learned the tailor's trade as a young girl and her talents with a needle and thread were very handy during the pioneer hardships.

Further across the prairies, they also encountered barking ground squirrels, deer and antelope, and, of course, Indians.

At Ft. Bridger they camped a short distance from the main camp. That night they saw some Indians coming and wondered what they could be coming for. One young buck left the rest and solemnly handed Mary a lovely shawl and told her to go with him and be his wife. Mary was a very pretty girl. This caused a great deal of consternation because of the fear that a refusal would anger the Indians and they would get ugly. But Simeon stepped right up and told them that she would have to refuse. The Indian proudly would not take back the shawl, but turned and rode away and never bothered them again. Mary wore the shawl out after they came to Utah. But Simeon kept her very close to him the rest of the trip.

After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on September 15, 1848, with the company of Brigham Young, they had to ration their food more strictly. The crops of the Saints, who were already in the valley, had been sparse, due to hordes of crickets devouring much of them. Harriet baked a corn cake every morning and that would do for the day. They called it Johnnycake. She would cut the cake up in five pieces, one piece for each of them. On Sunday, Harriet made flour biscuits. Often Mary and Betsy kept most of theirs and tried to get Simeon to eat it. He spent much of his time out of doors and worked hard to keep his family from being hungry.

Schooling was not forgotten, however, and the children walked a mile and a half to school. The schoolhouse had no floors and was very cold that first winter.

Trains of wagons coming from the east would come into Salt Lake and unload. The children used to go and pick up fruit and grain that spilled from the sacks. President Heber C. Kimball's prophecy that "states goods" would be sold in Salt Lake for less than they cost in the East was fulfilled by trainloads of gold seekers on their way to California who sold their supplies at below cost in order to lighten their loads and to purchase fresh animals from the Saints.

Finally, their first crop of wheat was in and they had all the "white" flour they wanted for bread. That was especially good after rations of cornbread.

Sarah Sophia was born to Harriet and Simeon in Salt Lake City on July 8, 1849. The family worked hard and soon had a comfortable home.

On Sept. 28, 1850, Simeon was called on a mission to the South Sea Islands. His health had been very poor for almost a year and the family had no means of support for themselves, let alone missionary expenses. But President Brigham Young promised him that if he would go, the Lord would bless him with health, and that his family would not want or suffer during his absence. This was also promised in his patriarchal blessing.

He left soon after for Tahiti. He served an honorable mission and fulfilled the prophecies he had been given concerning this mission. From 1850 to 1852, he labored as a missionary, having to leave there when they were driven out by the French.

After his departure to his mission, a second child, Simeon Adams, was born to Harriet and Simeon on January 18, 185l.

In 1851, Mary met Martin Luther Ensign. The first time he saw her, she was wearing a turkey red calico dress, with a high waist, edged with narrow black lace at the neck and sleeves, with a full skirt. He thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. They were married on January 8, 1852.

While Simeon was away from home, his daughter Adeline, wife of Alpheus P. Haws, died on January 11, 1852.

Simeon returned home from a splendid mission in 1852. He found the rest of his family well, and saw his son Simeon Adams for the first time. This was the first son of this family that survived.

Betsy married Alpheus P. Haws in 1853.

In May 1853, Simeon was called to go to Brigham City and start a settlement there. So he moved his family from Salt Lake to Brigham City. Besides Simeon's family, there were only about eight other families there. They helped build the fort there, and lived in it. They had a very hard time.

Some of the Indians were pretty bad and the men had to sit and guard at night and take their guns to work with them in the daytime. However, some of the Indians were friendly and would warn the settlers of roving bands of warriors. The friendly Indians liked to come into the fort to the homes and get warm. One winter was so cold that when the family washed the table, the water froze on the cloth just a few feet from the fire.

On 12 September 1853, Harriet gave birth to twins, Eveline Silver and Emeline Silver. Thankfully the girls were both hardy and mother and daughters survived the hardships of the winter with the rest of the family.

Charles Oscar was born October 13, 1855.

In 1857, the family moved to their new home on 1st North and 2nd East Street in Brigham City. After a while, one more room and a cook stove were added to their home. Harriet did enjoy cooking on a stove instead of the fireplace. Then a caravan of Mormon immigrants came to Brigham City, and Harriet brought a family into her home and gave them the new room, as it was the largest, and the stove was in it. She went back and cooked in the fireplace until the family was able to get another room built, but never once did Harriet complain.

On the first of December 1857, Harriet and Simeon journeyed into Salt Lake City to be sealed for time and eternity in the Endowment House. It was an exciting event for them, but the trip was tiring and long, and Harriet was in the last months of pregnancy.

Soon after they returned to Brigham City, Harriet gave birth to twins on December 31, 1857. They were named Harriet Silver Dunn and Henry Silver Dunn. The midwife and neighbors did everything possible to help, but little Harriet died at birth.

Two days later, on January 2, 1858, in the evening, Simeon saw that his wife was dying. The children were all in bed asleep. He woke them and carried them one at a time to their mother's bedside so that she could see them. She kissed each one and told Sophia to take good care of the other children and the remaining twin, Henry.

Simeon buried Harriet in a crude homemade casket with their tiny daughter in her arms. She had given her life for her family and the religion she espoused. Twice before, Simeon had been called upon to lay away a devoted wife and companion, but this time his heart almost broke for grief. But Harriet had lived "to dwell with the Saints in a land of peace and safety" as the patriarch John Smith had promised her.

Simeon was left with the following children: Susannah, Sophia, Simeon A., Emeline, Eveline, Charles O., and Henry. Susannah, age 15, was the eldest child at home. Mary, of course, was married to Martin Luther Ensign; and Betsy was married to Alpheus P. Haws. The married sisters came nearly every day to help with the baby.

Three months later, in April 1858, the call came for the Saints to leave their homes in northern Utah and journey southward in order to elude Johnson's army. Like others in the community, Simeon loaded a few provisions and household effects into his covered wagon, assisted his children onto the wagon box and cracking his long whip over the backs of his oxen, and commenced his journey. He also provided a wagon for Mary and her three little girls, as Martin Luther Ensign, her husband, was away on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the time.

It was a trying situation for all of them, as they never expected to return to their homes, and did not know what or where their flight would lead. As they proceeded on their way, baby Henry became very ill. They camped on Kay's Creek (now Kaysville) and there they saw the life depart from their lovely three month old son and brother. Sophia had held the baby all the way, and when he died she was heartsick.

Simeon dressed the baby, and made a box. Then he made his little family as safe and comfortable as possible in this temporary camp, and, with a sad and heavy heart, started back to Brigham City on horseback to bury his little one.

He found the town empty, except for a few men who had remained behind, ready at a moment's notice to touch a match to the homes and buildings, if the enemy should enter the city.

Reaching the cemetery, it was dark, and he had no spade with him, as the Indians took everything they left in their homes. He stayed by the baby alone all through the night. Next morning, he found a spade, dug the grave, and laid his little one to rest. He started on to join his children on the move south.

While they were camped on Kay's Creek, little Sophia had suffered so greatly that she took her younger brother's hand (two year old Charles Oscar) and went for a walk. She was lost for hours. Just as it was getting dark, she could see the smoke from the campfires, and yet she was not sure that it was not Indians. She hid Charles in the sagebrush and went to see if it was safe. She met her father coming on horseback looking for them. They returned to camp, where everyone was safe and well.

The next day they continued on their way south to Payson, where they made camp and remained until the government issued a manifesto offering amnesty to all of the "disloyal Mormons". The Saints were counseled by the church leaders to return to their homes.

They returned to Brigham as soon as they were permitted to do so. Upon their safe arrival home, they found their house empty, and all their possessions gone.

Susannah, age 16, married Allen Hunsaker on 24 Apr 1859.

In 1864, Simeon Adams Dunn married Elizabeth (Betsy) Wickham and had two children, Ephraim Wickham, born 27 March 1866 and Lorenzo Wickham, born 11 March 1868.

Sarah Sophia married John Johnson Dunn (no known relation), a pioneer of 1849, on 12 January 1867. Charles Oscar Dunn married Letitia Smith on 18 October 1876, and Simeon Adams Jr. married Eunice Emily Harmon on 3 November 1876. Eveline Silver married Allen Hunsaker 5 October 1868, and Emeline Silver married Francis R. Cantwell on 12 May 1877. Charles Oscar later married Martha Jane Welch on 24 October 1883.

In 1873, Simeon Adams Dunn went on another mission to the Eastern States. He also spent one year, from 1880 to 1881, working in the St. George Temple.

He died February 20, 1883, at the age of 80, in Brigham City, Utah, and was buried in the cemetery in that city. His grave lies next to that of his wife Harriet and their two babies.

His life was one of trial and sacrifice, having filled five missions, losing six wives, and being father and mother to his children the greater part of the time. He was a faithful husband, and the loving and tender father of twenty children.

He had been a farmer, missionary, guard, construction worker on the temple, pioneer, electioneer, president of the Seventies Quorum in Brigham City, and a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Just before his death he left us these words: "I can say in my heart God bless Zion. My testimony to this world is, and to all humanity, that inasmuch as they will subscribe to the ordinances of this Latter-day Church, they will never be made ashamed, and they will be raised up at the last day; but those that heed not, I have no promises for them, but those that fight against this work, I know that woe awaits them."

His home in Nauvoo on the corner of Parley and Hyde Street still stands today as a silent memorial of the lasting debt his descendants owe this remarkable pioneer.

(copied from his "Personal Journal" by his Grand-daughter, Mrs. Eva Dunn Snow in 1962, since which time the Journal has been used by others of his descendants, and at the present time, cannot be located)

"I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the 3rd Monday (the 15th) of April, 1839 by my Brother, Elder James Dunn, in the town of Van Buren, Wayne County, Michigan, in the Hurph River. I was the first man ever baptized in that River, by authority from Heaven, and he, the first Elder that I ever saw. My wife Adaline was baptized a week after I was, she being the second person baptized in the River.

I was ordained to the office of Priest by Elder Stephen Post on the 22nd of July, 1839. I officiated in that calling.

In June 1840 I was ordained an Elder by Elders Post and Franklin, in Van Buren, Wayne County, Michigan. In June, 1840 I started for Nauvoo, on foot and alone, 500 miles distant. On June 20, 1840, I arrived in Nauvoo, and for the first time in this life mine eyes beheld an acknowledged Prophet of God. On June 22, 1840, I visited the first Patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he, Joseph Smith Senior, blessed me with a Father's blessing, and explained to me the history of Abraham, from the Scripture.

On July 10, 1840 I started and returned to my home in Michigan, bearing my testimony of the ever lasting gospel, going and coming, with much rejoicing.

On June 20, 1841, I set off with my family, to gather with the Saints in Nauvoo. We arrived in Nauvoo August 5, 1841, settled and lived in that City until the saints left for the mountains.

In April, 1844 I was ordained one of the Seventies, under the hands of Levi Hancock. In May 1844 I was sent on a mission to the State of New York, to advocate the Prophet's claim to the Presidency of the United States of America.

On January 26, 1845, I was ordained and set apart to be the Senior President of the 15th Quorum of Seventies, under the direction of President Joseph Young, Senior President of all the Seventies.

In December 1843, I was chosen by the Prophet Joseph, as one of the forty-three policemen, to guard the City and the Temple of the Lord.

In September, 1841, I was sent to West Canada, on a mission to preach the gospel.

December 27, 1845, I and my wife Margaret, received our endowments in the Temple of the Lord, City of Nauvoo, Illinois.

On January 21, 1846, I was called and worked as a hand in the Temple. Worked sixteen days.

On January 22, 1846, I was called and had sealed to me, Adeline Rawson and Margaret Sneider - Adaline having died on the 22nd day of October, 1841.

On February 6, 1846, I was called with my wife Margaret, and received our second anointings, and sealed on us all the blessings thereof, under the hands of Zebedee Coltran.

On February 9, 1846 the Twelve Apostles left Nauvoo and crossed the Mississippi River for the wilderness. On May 18th I left Nauvoo to follow in their wake, and shared in all the toils and sufferings of the Saints, until November 20th. After laying out a City called Winter Quarters, on the west bank of the Missouri River, I was appointed one of a company of police to guard the City, I remained in Omaha until May 16, 1848, when I, with my family, set off for Salt Lake Valley, where we arrived September 28,1848. I remained there until I was called to go to the South Sea Isles, On May 7, 1850 I set off on a mission to the South Pacific Sea Isles.

On April 21, 1852, I arrived home, having been gone two years. In May, 1852, I settled in Box Eider County, and then Weber County.

In April 1858, I fled south with the rest of the Saints, from Johnston's Army, to elude their grasp. On July 25th I broke for home again, Brigham City, by the wise leadership of President Lorenzo Snow, under God.

We have been wonderfully blessed, both temporally and spiritually.

On October 19, 1871, I left Brigham City for the States, on a mission to look up the genealogy of my dead friends, which proved to be a very successful mission. I returned home the 19th of July, 1874, having traveled 10,0000 miles on rail and on the U.S.Seal.

On November 1, 1877, I was privileged with a mission to St. George, Utah, to officiate for my dead in the Holy Temple of our God. On January 27, 1878, I returned home, having Accomplished the desire of my heart for this time, in this direction.

February 11, 1878 - this year I am seventy-five years old. I have had born to me nineteen Children, thirty-nine grandchildren, ten great- grandchildren, and they are all within the vales of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I can say in my heart, "God Bless You".

Elder, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

A Blessing given to Simeon Adams Dunn
by Patriarch Joseph Smith, Senior

Simeon A. Dunn, son of Simon and Sarah Dunn, was born in Livingston County, town of Groveland, State of New York, on the 7th day of August, in the year of our Lord 1803.

This 22nd day of June, AD, 1840, I lay my hands upon thee, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and bless thee with the blessings of a Father, for thou art an orphan. And, I bless thee with all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not many months hence thou shalt be filled with the Holy Ghost; thou shalt become mighty in word and in deed, and thou shalt have power to heal the sick and to cast out devils.

Thou shalt have the vision of angels, and thou shalt hear an audible voice speaking unto thee to direct they course in the pathway of life, for the Lord has looked upon thee from Eternity, and thy mission has been known unto His.

Thou art sealed unto the covenant of thy Fathers, and from this time thou shalt be called of the seed of Joseph, for thou art an Ephraimite and one of the House of Joseph, to push the people together from the ends of the earth.

Thy mission shall be to many parts of the United States, and also to foreign lands, and thou shalt speak before Kings and Nobles, and they shall be astonished at thee because of the power of God which is in thee.

Thou shalt pass through perils and thou shalt be engulfed by the waves, but thou shalt have power to command them, for Satan shall seek to destroy thee, but shall not prevail against thee if thou art faithful, but thou shalt return to thy family in peace.

Thou shalt have power over thy own kindred flesh to teach them the way of life and salvation. Thy companion shall be blessed with thee and thy posterity after thee, with all the blessings pertaining to the Priesthood, and I seal thee up to eternal life, even so, Amen.