A History of David Sessions Jr.
Written by Nina Folsom Moss
Among the officers delegated by the King of England to come to America in 1630 and assist Thomas Dudley with his work as Colonial Governor of Massachusetts was Samuel Sessions, To him we owe the establishment of a loyal and worthy American family of which the subject of this history is a descendant.
Genealogical data records the birth of great grandfather David Sessions at Farley, Orange County, Vermont on 4 April, 1790 and of great grandmother Patty Bartlett Sessions at Bethel, Oxford County, Maine on 4 Feb,,1796. When David was twenty-two years of ago and Patty was seventeen, they were married (13 June, 1813) and located in the town of Newry, Oxford Co., Maine to make their home. This little town is located in the Saco River district where one of the few farming sections of Maine is to be found. The French had made a settlement in this rocky wild country in 1604 and King Charles I granted Gorges and Mason a charter for it in 1623. However, the English claimed the territory and much controversy existed until 1820 when Maine was admitted as a State of the Union. We can readily realize that David and Patty were much concerned about the political situation of their homestead as well as trying to improve it's livability and productiveness.
David (Sr.) & wife Patty Bartlett Sessions
Parents of David Sessions Jr.
A summer in Maine is indeed a vacation to be sought after with it's waterways, hunting and fishing, but the winters are extreme, Hardy and stalwart Americans come forth from its confines and such were David and Patty. Educational facilities were established early in the history of this section of our country along with theological seminaries at Bangor and Westbrook, so that we come to understand that Religion of a Puritan type was encouraged as an essential step in education. It must be remembered however, that from this section Roger Williams, Ann Hutchinson and the Quakers were cast out for their belief in principles contrary to the established Protestant faith of the colonies. Witches were burned at the stake up until 1692, yet only one-hundred years later a gradual assimilation of manners and customs finally evolved into a leniency in which men were crying "Lo, here is Christ'" and "Lo, there is Christ". And so it came about that one Joseph Smith of the neighboring state of Vermont in bewilderment sought the Lord in prayer and received enlightenment.
But let us return to the Sessions family. When their first child, Perrigrene, was born (15 June, 1814) the United States had established itself and was proceeding in a way to handle affairs as a new nation. President Madison was at the helm when Sylvanus was born 5 June, 1818. On 31 July, 1818 the first daughter, Sylvia, graced the home and on 21 March, 1810 Anna made her debut. David Jr. (of whom this sketch) came 9 May, 1823, but sorrow darkened the home in the fall of this year when little Anna passed away. The next child was a girl, who, according to the custom of the day was named for the deceased sister. She was born 16 Mar, 1825 and was christened Anna Bartlett in honor of Pattys mother, Anna Hall Bartlett. On 1 Aug., 1827 the third son blessed the home, but by August 1832 the second Anna had passed away and again in September of the same year, the second son, Sylvanus, was placed in the grave at the age of sixteen.
As the nation prospered, so did the civilians. With the advent of the railroad, the completion of the Erie Canal, the establishment of manufacturing centers and all the wonders of this new country, the people gained encouragement for advancement, David Sr, and Patty were thrifty citizens, being taught this principle by their ancestors who were forced to this code by the conditions of their time. They not only acquired a large farm stocked with well bred animals, but also a saw mill and a grist mill.
About 1836 it was their good fortune to hear and accept the message of the then new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In June of 1837 they sold their beautiful home and accompanying holdings and set out to be with the Saints at Kirtland, Ohio. The journey was made by ox team and occupied about three months time. Later they moved to Far West where a daughter Amanda was born on 14 Nov., 1837. As previously stated, at the time of her marriage, Patty was but seventeen years of age. She was evidently blessed with the gift of giving comfort to and careing for the sick. She began this work in earnest by helping her friends and neighbors with the delivery of their children. Almost to the time of her death she delegated most of her time to this great cause of mid-wifery. Many people blessed her for her untiring service and kindness in this great calling.
At Far West the Sessions family consisted of the father, mother, two sons (Perrigrine and his family and David) and two daughters (Sylvia and Amanda), Here they gave their all to help establish the new division of the Church. Shortly after their arrival in Far West, the son, David Jr., was baptized by Dominicus Carter (Dec. 1838) and the daughter, Sylvia, married Dr. Windsor P. Lyon (a noted army physician)
Dr. Lyon was a great good man, well educated and zealous in his labors for the good of mankind. He established a mercantile and drug business in the City of Nauvoo and to this City he took his bride who was twenty years of age. A bond of affection developed between the sister Sylvia and the younger brother David. Perhaps it came about from the child being left in her care while the mother was compelled to be away from home. At that time it was expected of women to assist at times of birth. Patty's knowledge of this care made her most sought after. Although there was no civil law in America which demanded her service, as there was in some other countries, there was the first great law of love for one, another which called for such service. David Jr. was about fourteen years of age when he went to live permanently with his sister, Mrs. Lyons, in Nauvoo. Under the kind supervision of his brother-in-law, he learned to manage the mercantile and drug business and to assemble and put up drugs. Dr. Lyon possessed many medical journals and books which David was encouraged to study in his room above the establishment. This art was to assist him in his latter life in helping to establish a community, but he was not aware of the fact at that time. David brought some of these books west with him.
By this time in our story, persecution began in earnest in Nauvoo. David affiliated himself with the Nauvoo Legion to help defend the Saints. Upon request he assumed the responsibility of helping to guard the Prophet Smith and became particularly intimate with him. Dr. Lyon had given David Jr. a beautiful watch. On one occasion the prophet expressed praise of the watch, where upon David Jr. immediately desired to accommodate by a trade. (This watch, of the Prophets is in the possession of the Corbridge family at Layton, Utah. David's daughter, Olive, having received it and passed it on to her son.) Among other things which the Sessions family accomplished in the city of Nauvoo was the particular work of Mother Patty in bringing into this world many infants who later became noted in the history of the founding of Utah. While here David Jr. contracted typhoid fever. He often spoke of the tender care his sister-in-law (Perrigrene's wife) gave him at this time.
David Sr. and Mother Patty performed baptismal ordinances for the dead in the Mississippi River in the year 1840. (Records in file)
On 15 May, 1841 the child, Amanda, died and was buried in the Nauvoo Cemetery. Grief stricken and heart sick the mother was hardly able to understand the loss of so many of her children.
Oppression ran high and many Saints hastened the completion of the Temple in order to receive their endowments. David Jr. was ordained into the 28th quorum of Seventies by B. L. Clapp on 2nd Feb., 1848 and the following day entered the House of the Lord for his endowments (3 Feb., 1846).
During their residence in Nauvoo the father, David Sr., took unto himself a second wife, Roselle Cowan. The unusualness of this act caused some friction in the family. With the general exodus in February, the Sessions children bade farewell to their parents who crossed the river and moved on to Winter Quarters. Rosella remained In Nauvoo with Perrigrine and his family for a while, but Dr. Lyons moved his business and family to Iowa City. David Jr, went along with them to this place.
The Church historians office guard carefully the diary kept by Patty Sessions on her westward journey. It given careful account of some details of the journey of the Brigham Young Company while crossing the plains. Many facts have been proven by her notations, including some items in this sketch.
The Mother grieved terribly because her children were not with her, but since she was called on a special mission to assist the Bothers of Zion In their travail, the children preferred to wait.
Perrigrene and his family decided to join them before they left Winter quarters, however, David remained with the Lyons family in Iowa City until after the death of Dr. Lyons in 1849. While here he continued his study of medicine. In the summer of 1850
Sylvia married Ezekiel Clark and David felt that his help to his sister was no longer needed. A group of immigrants were making ready to go to California to cast their lot with the gold seekers. David decided he would go with them as far as Great Salt Lake City. He approached one of the town harness and boot makers and tried to place an order for his outfit. The harness man was so busy getting everyone outfitted that he was unable to accommodate David Jr. However, he went with him to purchase the leather and had David Jr. come to his shop to make the outfit, David Jr, finally turned out an extra good set of harness and boots and shoes enough for the journey, his sister, Sylvia, helped him complete his outfit, which consisted of a new wagon and a fine team of horses. He also brought the well bred riding horse on which he formerly delivered drugs for Dr. Lyon. There are many interesting tales concerning his trips on that horse to outlying farm districts.
In the spring of 1850 he bade his sister adieu. On the Journey he acted as scout and helped furnish the meat for the company because he had a good riding horse. He arrived in the valley of Salt Lake sometime in July of 1850 (according to Patty' a diary). His father and mother had received a portion of land where the "' Oregon Short Line Depot now stands and Perrigrene was located at Sessions Settlement, about eight miles north of the City. After visiting a few days with his parents, David Jr, went to the home of his brother and assisted with the farm work. But soon word came from their mother of the illness of their father. Due to the strenuousness [sic] of his life since leaving his home in Maine, he was in poor health. He had made an attempt to resist in getting wood for winter from the Bountiful canyon, became overheated and drank too much cold water. He passed away 11 Aug, 1850 in Great Salt Lake City. David Jr. remained with his mother that winter to look after her, but part of the time while there he worked as a "Printers Devil" for the Deseret News.
Patty Bartlett Sessions
In the spring he resumed the work on the Bountiful farm. Now to the Perrigrene Sessions home there came a lovely lady, a member of the recently arrived Foss family (1850). Phoebe Carter Foss was her name and she was in the Sessions Settlement to teach school. At this time the teacher "boarded around" and consequently she came to Perrigrene's home. It didn't take David long to decide that here was his mate for life. Consequently they were married in December of 1852. David Sr, had helped Perrigrene build an adobe house in 1850-51. It stood on the east side of the road about twenty rods north of Smith Mill (1950) or between first and third north on second west as the streets are now numbered. It was a large home at that time. An open porch-way extended in front of the center or dining room with a room at each end of the porch. Bed rooms were in an upper portion. The kitchen and pantry were on the east of the dining room in what was called a lean-to. This was known as "Sessions Tavern". The main road from Salt Lake going north ran directly in front of it. When the "Settlement Wall" was built around Plat A, the Tavern was inside the Wall. It was at this Tavern that the mail was left from 1850 until 1869 with David Sr. acting as postmaster and here many people of all types received "Refreshments" by way of food and a bed.
When David and Phoebe were married, they set up housekeeping in the front north room downstairs of "Sessions Tavern". Here they lived until after their daughters, Sarah Phoebe (26 Nov, 1853) and Cerdeniah Estell (30 Jan., 1856) were born, Perrigrens was away from home much of the time, so it fell to David Jr's lot to manage the farm, look after the mail and, look to the needs of all the Sessions families.
In 1862 there came to this home a group of Indians. One of the Indian men finally persuaded David Jr. and Perrigrene to relieve him of the responsibility of rearing his nephew. The boy had a great wound on his forehead and seemed so miserable that the two men finally traded a, pony, a blanket and some food for the boy. His mother and father had died and being too young to provide for himself he was being mistreated by those in the band of Indians. At first the boy sulked and hid away, but the women soon had him eating. David Jr. was very kind to him and soon the boy was assisting with the work. He became known as "Jim Injun". he learned to be an efficient rock-mason and played ball with the best team of Bountiful. Due to the teachings of David Jr. & his wife, Phoebe, "Jim Injun" went to the Logan Temple and received his endowments in 1885 being the first Lamanite of the present dispensation to receive this privilege.
On page 83 of Vol. 20 in the Patriarchal Blessing of David Sessions Jr, given by Issaa Morely at Bountiful, Utah on 10 April, 1859.
In 1858 when David and Phoebe's son David ( 9 Jan, 1858) was a baby, word came to abandon everything and move to the south on account of the coming of Johnston's Army. From grandmother Patty's diary we learn that David Jr. helped move Perrigrene and his family, grandmother Patty and his sister, Sylvia Lyons Clark (who had come to Utah in July 1854 with Perrigrene as he returned from a mission) and her family all to American Fork and then proceeded to get his own family around the point of the mountain. Fortunately negotiations were soon made which permitted them to return to their homes in Sessions Settlement.
On 26 Dec., 1859, Olive Cordelia was born and shortly after this event David Jr, homesteaded a piece of ground north of the town. This property is now owned by Marl Burnham. A son, Fabyon Carter, came to them on 23 July, 1862 and Darius on 22 Oct., 1864. And now came the call from the church authorities to help with the mission on "The Muddy". Anson Call, David Sessions, Seth Dustin, George Noble and David James Smith asked no questions when they were notified to go to the Colorado River in Nevada to build a bridge over which Utah products could be exported. They made the trip, built homes, produced a temporary bridge and returned for their families. Indian troubles were at their height by this time and since the church authorities had called all people in the scattered settlements to gather at certain fortified towns, these men were advised to give up the project. Lake Meade now covers the project they began. We do not know at what date Grandfather built a small home on Plat A Lot 4 Block 31 or what is now the corner of first west and first north of Bountiful, Utah. But it consisted of a south bed room, a combined kitchen-living room in the center with a bedroom and a pantry to the north. It was a humble adobe structure, but displayed all the Pioneer talents known to most homes and several that most homes could not boast of. Since they have been described in grandmother Phoebe's life story, I shall go to the little shop which was added on to this home for a bit of interesting history.
As I told you before, David Jr. was educated by Dr. Lyon for medical service, but since coming to Utah it became necessary for him to do so many things he had not intended to do. He still held on to his well bred horses and cattle. I am told his cow herd had a trough for droppings and is reported to be one of the first if not the first in Bountiful to have this feature of cleanliness. He also insisted on keeping a pig. "Now what is a home farm yard without a pig" he said. At times the harness for the horses needed mending or a new part made and since there was no harness-maker near, he put into practice what he learned in Iowa City. Now, when the neighbors saw what he could do, they wanted some help and it wasn't long; before David was "harnessing" all over Phoebes house. This just wouldn't do because there were six children by now and some more to be had. Also, they needed room for the churn and the loom and since Grandmother assisted with the making of burial clothes for the community, there needed to be room for the sewing. Then there was the trundle bed which had to be pulled out into the middle of the floor at night, so taking all things into consideration, David decided he better build a shop. It was added to the pantry portion and extended to the east. Grandfather didn't forget how he made shoes in the East either, so he sent for some equipment and kept not only his own family, but others in shoes. The leather he could obtain was raw, so he must tan it, the "lasts" he made by whittling them out by hand to match each ones foot; and some times he made the women and children shoes out of the tops of the husbands boots. His daughter, Sarah, often told of having shoes when others didn't and often removed her shoes after leaving home because her associates were bare footed. Grandfather not only had a kind heart, but he loved a good Joke. Often the neighbor children who visited at the Sessions home stood wide eyed as they listened to his "yarns". Brother Anson Call passed down to the children of his family this tribute to our Grandfather, "David Sessions did more good for the young people of Bountiful than any other person. They congregated in his harness shop to hear his yarns and pioneer stories which always included principles of good behavior." Former Governor Charles R. Mabey's letter to me includes this statement: "I knew David Sessions and his family as a boy and often stopped in his shop to and from school and listened to his stories, amusing and instructive".
Horses and cows got sick as well as people, so David was called on to use his medical. knowledge. Soon the neighbors learned of his ability in this line and "there just wasn't anything else to do but go in and help" is the way he expressed it. Grandfather had oxen with which he, his sons and "Jim Injun" got wood out of the canyon and did other heavy work. Some times there were accidents, snake bites, poison weeds which caused alarm. Consequently from the beginning of his residence in Sessions Settlement he brought forth his skill at setting bones, pulling teeth, doctoring felons, earaches and all such illnesses in the community. The little "black bag" which he brought with him from town city was soon seen here and there on an errand of mercy. The queer part about this was that the pills and instruments used for livestock were carried about in the same bag as those for the people. When the Smallpox made such headway in the communities in the 1860's, folk came from miles around to have him vaccinate them.
Grandfather had never intended to be "a harness and shoe maker" nor to be a "horse doctor" as he was sometimes derisively called. People made these demands of him and he responded. It was ever his desire to do all he could to build up the community. Christmas time in 1866 was one of rejoicing in this family and a tiny boy had arrived the day before (24 Dec., 1866). He was christened "Calvin Foss" in honor of Grandmother's brother. Then Elisabeth arrived on the 29th of May, 1869, so it was decided to either put an addition on the home or build another. Eight children and both parents were just about too much for that little house. Accordingly a two story rock home was built just south of the adobe one. For that time it was one of the better homes of the community.
That it was well built is attested by the fact that it is sill in a good state of preservation, has been remodeled and is a good home (1960). One of the interesting features of the home was the basement or cellar under the house. It was rock walled (I could wager "Jim Injun helped to build it) with a dirt floor which could be dampened In summer to make it cool. Cabbages were wrapped in newspaper and placed upside down in barrels, bins held potatoes, carrots, beets and turnips. Muslin baits about as large as ones arms were stuffed with sausage and hung from the rafters. Dried jerked beef stood In barrels and apples were packed in straw. A "safe" or cupboard upon whose shelves sat pans of milk for cream to raise for churning. The tall red churn whose dasher went up and down along with the butter mold which left the prints of a pineapple on top of the butter were kept in the cellar for constant use. Eggs were packed in salt or had grease rubbed over them and stored in crooks, salt brine pickles and molasses preserves in crocks were covered with clean white cloth. Such things show that our grandparents were interested in the welfare of their children. When Elizabeth was but a few weeks old, the family experienced their first encounter with death in the immediate family. Calvin passed away 15 June, 1869. And then Rhoda Harriett came to bless the home (3 Oct., 1871), but she too was not to be with them for long since she died 31 July, 1873.
In 1872 we find record in the Davis County Recorders Office of David Sessions paying the sum of $4.00 for the recording of a parcel of land upon which he had lived many years, Through the Probate Judge of the County (Hector Haight) application had been made by he citizens of Bountiful (changed from Sessions Settlement) for land to be set aside by the United States Government for their township to be created.
Each land owner was to pay $1.25 an acre for his land: Judge Haight paid the government $1,597.80 for the town of Bountiful. This transaction of Grandfathers is recorded in Book A of Deeds, page 27; certificate 192. There is no record of anyone holding this land before Grandfather (I have examined the abstract).
And now I must Introduce Anne Sylvia, the one to whom I am deeply Indebted for much of this information. She was born 30 April, 1875, thus completing the list of six girls and four boys who blessed this home. Now Grandmother took great care in the preparation of food for her family, she taught the girls all the then known home arts especially to be good seamstresses and since she was a former school teacher, one supplemented the school lessons with the knowledge she had, both scholastically and religiously for the benefit of her family. Grandfather was busy with all these obligations of which, I have told you so there was no time to seek public office. At one time he did favor Bishop John Stoker to act as Ward Clerk, however, he helped with many church and civic project, including the building of the City Wall, Bountiful Tabernacle and others. He also sent teams and supplies to the Missouri River to help the emigrants come West, The horses, "Mark" and "Dick" were always ready on the surrey to haul people for various occasions, including funerals. He had a benevolent disposition and contributed liberally to every worthy cause. Only one bit of notoriety would he consent to - that of riding in the parades on holidays. This however was to display his horse, which he ever loved and not himself.
He was ill for three years before his death on 19 April, 1896 at his home in Bountiful, he and his adopted son (Jim Injun wassealed to this family) were often in bed at the same time. Jim died 12 July 1895 of tuberculosis. Funeral services were held in the Bountiful Tabernacle the 22nd April, 1896 for David Sessions. His brother-in-law, Pres. Wilford Woodruff and his brother-in-law, Matthias F. Cowley, Enoch Bartlett Tripp, Davis Stake Pres. Joseph Hyrum Grant and Bp. John Stoker were speakers at this service. His last request was that he be buried in a hand made coffin, showing his respect for things without show.
There seems to have been a question as to his having charge of the early day Post Office. There are no records here in the State of this office. Perhaps there is in Washington D. C., however, his daughter, Annie S. Neville, has this to say concerning it: "I have heard my father tell many times that he had charge of the Post Office in early days. He had It for nearly twenty years with no compensation. I well remember that during his last sickness people came to see him who knew about his having this work and wanted him to apply to the government for pay to help with his expenses at the time of his illness. He would just give a jocular answer and did nothing about it." Many converts to the church coming into the Settlement are loud in their praise for this assistance they received from David Sessions in getting themselves established.
Family Picture - not all persons identified
Front left appears to be Sarah Phoebe Sessions,
Front center apperas to be her mother: Phoebe Carter Foss.
Can anyone identify others?