Lewis Dunbar Wilson, Jr
Born: 21 Sep 1840, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois
Married: 31 January 1862, Ogden, Weber, Utah
Died: 28 January 1922, Riverside, Bingham, Idaho
Buried: Riverside Cemetery, Bingham, Idaho
Parents: Lewis Dunbar Wilson Sr.
& Nancy Ann Wagonner
Wife: Catherine Wiggins
History of Lewis Dunbar Wilson Jr.
and arranged by his daughter, Ethel Wilson Harrison, from his own personal
record book, church history records, and personal contributions gleaned from
members of his two loving families, and a diary left by his father, Lewis Dunbar
Wilson Sr. (preserved by the family and now found in Church Historian's Office).
Lewis Dunbar Wilson Jr, a Utah Pioneer
of 1853, was born September 21, 1840 at Nauvoo, Illinois. He was a son of Lewis
Dunbar Wilson Sr. and Nancy Ann Waggoner who were converts from Chitten County
A picture of Nancy Waggoner - mother of Lewis D
He was born four years after his mother
and father were converted and baptized into the Church at the time when the
Saints were being severely tried and persecuted at Nauvoo. He remembered when a
small boy sitting upon the knee of the Prophet Joseph Smith while he was telling
stories. Lewis remembered hearing the noise and confusion at the time of the
Prophet's martyrdom and seeing the dead body after his life had been taken. He
used to tell of one time when the mob chased the Prophet into his father's home
and seeing his mother hide the Prophet under the bed while his father went out
with a gun to keep the angry mob away.
His father being one of the High
Council (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 124 Verses 127‑133) was given a sword by the
Prophet, and this sword, along with one of the first Books of Mormon was kept by
Lewis Dunbar until the time of his death. The Sword is now found in possession
of his grandson, Lloyd Wilson.
He remembered the cold, bitter night of
February 1846 when his father and family left Nauvoo with the first company of
Saints and started westward to make a new home. All of his early childhood years
were lived in hardship, self denial, and sorrow while pioneering their way
across the plains to Utah. It was seven years after the family left Nauvoo
before they reached Salt Lake Valley. His father having stopped at Garden Grove
four years, planting and harvesting crops, making clothing, and earning money
with which to buy teams, wagons, and equipment, so they could travel on.
In his father's diary it reads,
"Having been driven from Nauvoo, just out of a sick bed, with a family of
ten, five of them without shoes and hardly a shirt to their backs, with a
borrowed team and wagon, one hundred pounds of flour and twenty‑five
pounds of pork, we have spent three years of the most distressing circumstances
I ever met." How severely tried was Lewis' young soul, only he could have
told, when after the family had left Garden Grove and had traveled one hundred
and sixty miles farther west to Kanesville, Iowa. In July 1851 while his father
was away securing clap lumber for a neighbor's house, his mother died. Her death
left his father with nine living children and Samuel, a newly born infant, to
continue their way across the plains.
It was while in Kanesville, on
September 26, 1850, at the age of ten years, Lewis was baptized by his father
and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, just one
year before his faithful mother passed away. The family lived in Kanesville two
years after his mother's death. They reached Salt Lake in 1853, soon thereafter
moving to Ogden where they established. residence.
His father being a hard working pioneer
and builder soon established a home and bought city property and farm land. He
married Nancy Ann Cosset on April 10, 1854 to provide a mother and a home for
his children, but he died three years later on March 11, 1856 after an illness
of eighteen hours, just four years after reaching Salt Lake Valley. His death
found the oldest son of the family living in California, the oldest daughter
married,‑leaving Lewis at the age of sixteen the oldest of the family at
home. He learned. many useful lessons from his father in thrift and
determination, in carpentry and building, and now went bravely to work on his
father's farm and wherever he could secure employment.
First one guardian and then a second
was appointed by the court over the family and property, but very little was
done to meet the financial obligations left by his father. As soon as Lewis
Dunbar became of age, this responsibility fell upon hire. His father, like all
other ambitious pioneers, had branched out and acquired property in Ogden and
vacinity which was not paid for due to his sudden death.
Lewis had the responsibility to pay these obligations and to clear his
father's name and meet the court requirements in addition to keeping the family
together. One year he worked
at a saw mill east of Salt Lake City and stayed at President Brigham Young's
In the year of 1856, he was called out
with Lot Smith's company by President.
Brigham Young to prevent Johnson's Army from entering the Valley. `?fey
were instructed to burn or destroy supply wagons and to drive off their cattle.
Lewis was one of the company who burned a train of sty wagons and drove off
eighteen hundred head of oxen and beef cattle.
In the year of 1862, he was called on a
mission to the States with the D. Henry Miller Company to bring the poor people
to Zion. He acted as one of the guards placed over the money sent by the church
to defray the expenses. This money was hidden in a sack of flour, and Lewis used
to tell his children many interesting stories of the money's protection. During
these trips,, many times he showed his daring, fearless quality in the
restoration of stolen horses and cattle to their owners. He was taken a prisoner
twice by the Indians, because it was his duty to ride ahead to locate water and
a camping spot for the company. He had the experience of smoking the peace pipe
with the Indians.
At one time his own personal pony was
stolen from the camp at night, and Lewis searched for two days on foot before he
found it in a corral guarded by four white men. Lewis first tried to reason and
persuade the men and finally as a last resort ran to the pony, cut the rope, and
tried to ride him out of the corral, but the men were too quick for him.. They
threw a lasso over his pony's neck. Lewis hardly knew what to do now, because he
was :afraid ;mother lasso would find his own neck, but acting on a moment's
impulse he drew his revolver and shot the rope in two and rode out. He had been
gone three days from the camp and from the company.
At one tame he became very ill, and he
had no appetite to eat and had nearly lost faith in living. One day a foul came
flattering over their camp. The man who shot it said, "`This has been sent
for Wilson. The broth from the
cooked foul did prove to be the help he needed, because he commenced to improve
at once. At another time when they had come within a short distance of the camp
of the poor people struggling, a large white bird kept hovering over their camp.
At first they refrained from shooting the foul, but when it repeatedly came back
and flew so low over them they thought it must have been sent for a purpose, so
they shot it and carried it with them to the Saints' camp. When they reached the
camp, they found them very ill with cholera, and this bird was cooked and the
broth measured out to the suffering people. Again Lewis Dunbar was taught that
the Lord will provide.
He returned from his last trip to Omaha
just before New Year's and was married to Catherine Wiggins, a daughter of
Ebenezer Fairchild and Elender Moore Wiggins, on December 31, 1862. She was born
in LaHarpe, Hancock County, Illinois, April 13, 1845. They had a civil marriage,
but they went to the Salt Lake Endowment House in 1864 when he was ordained an
Elder and were married for time and eternity.
Lewis at this time was light
complexioned, blue eyes, strong featured, a, head of very heavy light brown hair
which was curly. lie was pleasant and mischievous and a strong, robust,
ambitious ,young max.. He was a natural leader,, and he was nearly self-educated
as far as book learning was concerned, but he was master of a great amount of
native ability and had the determination to make the best of opportunities. lie
attended night school and kept climbing in all phases of life. He was popular
and very well liked. by all with whom he associated.
Catherine was a pretty girl. She had
more book learning than her husband. She was of a very refined and reserved
Soon after his marriage, he opened up a
cooper shop in Ogden on 25th Street just above Washington. In this shop churns,
barrels, tuffs, pans, buckets, wash-boilers etc. were made. (One of the churns
is kept in the Blackfoot Relic House.) His business grew until he had all the
work he could do and was able to pay off the indebtedness of his father's and
became owner of his father's investments. Besides owning the large farm in
Wilson Lane' he now owned acres of valuable land, in the heart of Ogden City,
West 25th Street, and the property where the new Union Pacific Depot now stands.
He owned and managed his own cooper shop until the Union
Pacific Railroad came into the valley, and then he sold his shop.
Polygamy was now being taught and
practiced in the Church, so eleven years after Lewis Dunbar had married
Catherine Wiggins he took in plural marriage Eliza Ellenor Hunt. They were
married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 10th, 1873. Eliza Ellenor was the
daughter of William and Ellenor Wiggins Hunt. She was born at Ogden City, Utah,
August 29, 1856. She was
Catherine's sister's daughter.
The year following Lewis Dunbar's
second marriage, he was called and responded to a mission to the Eastern States.
He was ordained a Seventy on October 12, 1874 and set apart by Apostle Orson
Pratt .for this mission. While laboring in Ohio, he asked and was granted
permission to contact his relatives. His father's six brothers and their
families settled in this vicinity years before. He went
to the home of an elderly aunt and found her very prejudiced against his
religion. However, he was invited to be voice as they knelt in evening prayer.
As he prayed, she kept repeating "Amen" every few words which made him
very confused. He did not know whether this utterance was meant for him to stop
or to continue. After prayer she told him he would be able to .find a night's
lodging across the street. This was the nearest contact he had with his people.
He was not able to stay and finish his mission, because when he was out only six
months he contacted black-erysipelas which seemed to just cook the flesh off his
nose, and it. fell off. He was honorably released and advised by his doctor to
go home immediately.
After Lewis Dunbar's second marriage,
he built a large two-story frame duplex just west of the Weber River on his
farm. He moved his two families into the new home where they lived in love and
peace for several years. The duplex had a large hall running through the length
of the building dividing the two apartments. Catherine and her family lived in
one side, and Eliza and her family lived on the other side. This hall opened
into a long room the width of the building. This room served as a separate
kitchen on each end, and it held a large extension table which could be extended
nearly the length of the room and was used for thrashers, wedding suppers, and
joint family dinners.
Soon after his return from his mission,
he was appointed superintendent of the Sunday School in Wilson Ward which
position he held until he moved to Idaho.
During the intervening years before
politics played havoc with plural marriages, Lewis Dunbar established the first
hardware store and lumber yard in Ogden on his own property on East 25th Street.
He was now quite financially independent, but just previous to the passing of
the Edmands Law he made a mistake in the man he took into his business as a
partner. The firm was registered as "Wilson & Company"'. This man
was a trained bookkeeper, and so Lewis Dunbar turned the books and the
management of the store over to him, along with the authority of signing the
signature of Lewis D. Wilson & Company. Lewis was gone a great amount of the
time while looking after the buying in Washington and Oregon of lumber and the
outside contracts of building and supplies. It was Lewis who placed the first
plate glass windows in Salt Lake City.
After the passing of the Edmonds Law,
Lewis was severely harassed by the marshals of the law, so he was compelled to
live most of the time the next few years on the underground, leaving his partner
to assume more and more control of the lumber and hardware business. The
privilege of using the signature of the "L.D. Wilson Lumber & Hardware
Company" was greatly misused. Heavy investments were made and money
borrowed, using the L.D. Wilson & Company signature and business as
security. As a result Lewis Dunbar found, when he was permitted to live in the
open, and to go back to assume management of this business, he was broken
financially, and strange to say, his partner had become a prosperous man. Lewis
Dunbar found it necessary to sacrifice his $30,000.00 farm and all his holdings
to the debtors of his well established business. This necessity left him an
honest man but with no home for his families.
This partner did not live a great many
years, however, to enjoy his dishonestly acquired money. He died, as it had been
prophesied, he would, at middle age of a most painful death suffering with boils
over his entire body. In his dying request, tile family wired for Lewis Dunbar
to come to his bedside, as he said, he could not die without asking Lewis
Lewis was not discouraged, however. In
the fall of 1885, he Left his first wife Catherine, her family, and Eliza's
older children in the old home. With Eliza and her smaller children (in company
with two other families,) he came to Idaho to pioneer a new home for his two
families. Throughout Lewis' married life, up until- his death, he was always
thoughtful of his wife, Catherine, giving her first consideration in everything.
If only one piece of furniture could be purchased, Catherine got it, and Eliza
waited her turn. He lived the principle of polygamy as loyally, honestly, and
honorably to both families as he knew how, striving always to keep them all
He located two homesteads west of the
Blackfoot trading post or townsite. All of the Blackfoot country at that time
was a sage brush wilderness, the home of wild animals. There were no canals, no
fences, no roads, no church, and no schools. The older children were left in
Ogden during the school season.. Hardships, yes, but Lewis being a son and Eliza
a daughter of real pioneers, they bravely went to work to establish new homes. I
used to hear Father say that the Lord had taken away all his money to keep him
humble in the Church.. At the end of two years, he moved his first family to
Blackfoot. Lewis had now built two houses from logs he and his young sons had
cut and hewn. For Catherine, with Eliza's help, he had a home built, a garden
growing, and a farm to live with his two families in for many months before the
government officers were again on his trail, making it very hard for him and his
wives and children. Indeed they all suffered for this law of plural marriage in
In the year of 1887, two years after
moving to Blackfoot, and only a few months after moving his first family, he was
arrested and put on trial and given the choice of either deserting Eliza, his
second wife and family, or going to prison. Choosing the latter, standing true,
to those he loved and his religion, he was sentenced and sent to Boise for a
term of six months, but kind friends had him liberated at the end of three
months to return home to his needy families. But this only resulted in his being
arrested again immediately for the same offence, and he was compelled to put up
a thousand dollar bond for his appearance at the May term of court in 1888. At
the May term of Court, he was sentenced and sent to serve two years in the U. S.
Prison at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His case was finally appealed to the U.S.
Circut Court, and he was released after a term of eighteen months with the
recommendation from the U. S. Attorney General that the Government remunerate
him for time spent unjustly in prison. Needless to say, this was not done. (His
case was declared a case of false imprisonment.)
During the time of his first months in
service, Lewis was put on the rock gang with the hardest criminals in the
prison. A large gas light burned all night directly in front of his cell door
which greatly impaired his eye sight. One night while in prison, being allowed
only fragments or censored parts of his letters received from home, he went to
bed praying and worrying over his families, because he had to leave them in poor
circumstances with only the support of his young sons in their pioneer homes.
There was bitter prejudice all around them. For his comfort that night, he was
shown that a friend was delivering a load of flour to his loved ones. This with
many other testimonies while he was in prison were a comfort and proved that the
Lord had not forgotten him.
As I said before, he served eighteen
months. Three nights before the day on which his pardon was received by the
governor and the warden of the prison, he was shown in a vision his pardon
document with its dates and signatures of the Idaho State Governor and other
officials, and he was shown just what steps he must take in order to be
liberated as it was the intention of the South Dakota State Prison Warden to
detain him another six months. The following morning after the vision, Lewis
confidentially told another Mormon inmate that his pardon would come in three
days. This good Mormon friend allowed this information to reach the warden.
Lewis was jeeringly laughed at as the "Visionary Wilson". Three days
later on the morning of the pardon date Lewis was called into the warden's
office. The warden had the governor with other state officials seated in there
to witness Lewis' disappointment and chagrin when his pardon was denied. The
warden said: "Sorry, Wilson,
but your pardon did not come." Lewis told him to go to a certain drawer in
his desk, and there he would find his pardon document signed by the governor.
The warden hesitated, stammered, and tried to refuse, but the governor insisted
upon his doing what Lewis suggested. In all humiliation the warden was forced to
bring the document forth. Lewis was released to go home nearly broken in health
from heavy lifting in the rock and lime quarry, but he was not crushed in spirit
or in determination. He bore his testimony over and over again both by mouth and
by his daily life of the kindness and all reality of God and his belief in
prayer. His faith throughout his life was strong. His families always arose to
commence the day with an earnest prayer and retired at night with the same
blessed protection. His children were taught cleanliness of living. No rough
smutty jokes were allowed in his homes. He taught them honesty, thrift, and to
keep out of debt.
In the year of 1886, he became one of the first presiding elders west of Blackfoot
in the Basalt Ward of the Bingham Stake. The first organization that was started
in the home of his second wife, Eliza. He later served as first counselor in the
Riverside Ward Bishopric for nine years and then was released to become the
first counselor of the High Priests Quorum which position he held until the time
of his death. During those hard pioneer years in Idaho, when doctors were scarce
and people were poor, and when he was building homes, and because of his strong,
humble faith and knowledge, Lewis and Eliza were to administer healing herbs and
to give service in times of sickness and death. They would travel for miles
around. He always carried to these houses a bulwark of strength and comfort. He
used not only his acquired skill, wisdom, and knowledge in rebuilding his own
finances but in the building and the financing of meeting houses as he directed
the building of several. He built the first tithing granary in this part of the
stake. He was a leader among men in thrift, and in energy. One year after
growing a large crop of potatoes, he could not find a sale for them, so he put
into effect his ingenuity and dauntless ambition, by boarding a train for New
York City. Here he went into one of the large hotels and asked the management
for his gift of Idaho rural potatoes to be baked and served to the hotel guests
for dinner. During the meal, he was presented in the dining room and introduced.
as "Wilson the Idaho Potato King" who had given-the potatoes that they
were eating to the hotel as a compliment. This title he carried up until his
death. Needless to say, he sold his entire potato crop at a good price. He
shipped them directly to New York City.
As time moved on he became well
established in Idaho. He lived to be the father of sixteen children, ten
of who were born to Catherine Wiggins Wilson, and six children were born to
Eliza Hunt Wilson. He sent and supported four missionaries in his family. His
last son filled two missions.
When he was seventy-seven years old, he
became seriously ill. The doctors gave him only a few hours to live. All his
children were called home at the doctor's request. Lewis passed into a coma
during the night, and they thought he was dead.
Upon regaining consciousness, he told
his wives and children how his spirit had passed from this earth to the other
side. After passing through one veil, how he could see beyond another, his
father standing conversing with relatives, church officials, and acquaintances.
He tried to pass through the second veil and join his father, but he was not
permitted to do so. He was told by the guide he could not go farther until he
had performed certain temple work for his father. He had pled to return and take
care of this obligation and was permitted to do so. Propped up in bed with
pillows, he bore his testimony of the gospel and begged his children to live it
and to freely forgive and love on another. He said, "There is no man-made
business or corporation on equal to a noble family. For his children to live to
join the hearts of the children unto the fathers and further the gospel of
Christ, to live worthy of advancement in the priesthood and not to procrastinate
His family joined in a prayer circle at
his request. He testified that while the family joined in prayer he saw heavenly
personages so bright and shining they could scarcely be looked upon. Many things
were shown him too sacred to reveal but which bore testimony of the Divinity of
God. He was healed by the power of the priesthood and lived to go with his wife,
Eliza, and spent three months at the St. George Temple doing temple work. He
died at the age of eighty-one. January 28, 1922, leaving a family of fourteen
children and eighty-one grandchildren. All the children have been married in the
temple. He left an untarnished name far and near. His strong faith had dominated
his whole life, and the direction of his families.
L. D. Wilson Jr
L D Wilson Jr and his family from his 1st wife
(see below for a photo of his family from his 2nd wife)
Front row: Martha Vilate, Pearl Ellen, Lewis Dunbar, Catherine Rozilla, and Elizabeth. Back row: Elveretta Annie, Sarah Lettie, Ezra Dunbar, Catherine [WIGGINS], Arthur Ebenezer, and Jennie Lind. (Names according to "L. D. Wilson - Mormon Polygamist and Idaho Pioneer" book by Roald F. CAMPBELL [published 1986].