JONATHAN AND ELLEN WALMSLEY CLEGG
A Brief History
submitted by Melodee Clegg 19-Aug-01
Jonathan Clegg was born to Henry Clegg Sr. and Ellen Cardwell Clegg on 25 February 1816, in Walton-le-Dale, Lancashire, England. He was the fourth of eight children. His brothers and sisters were Thomas (born 1810), James (1812), Margaret (1814), Betsy (1818), Alice (1820), Henry C. (1822, died in 1823), and Henry Jr. (1825).
Jonathan’s father was a boot and clog maker in the area of Preston, Lancashire, in the northwest of England.
Ellen Walmsley was the tenth of the eleven children of Isaac Walmsley (a weaver) and Elizabeth Hyam Walmsley, born in the town of Samlesbury, Lancashire (4 miles northeast of Walton-le-Dale) on 5 January 1816. Her siblings were John (born 1796), Ellen (born 1798, died 1815), William (1799), James (1801), Anne (1802), another James (1804), Isaac (1806), Henry (1810), Richard (1813), and Elizabeth (1818).
Jonathan and Ellen were born at the time the industrial revolution and the use of the steam engine in textile manufacturing was changing the way of life in England. Jonathan was taught his father’s trade of boot and clog making, but by the age of twenty he was working as a weaver in the cotton mills, living in Preston. Jonathan and Ellen were married in the Parish Church of St. John, Preston, on 29 April 1836, when both were twenty years old. Their first son, James Clegg, was born the following year on 28 May 1837 in Preston.
The first Mormon missionaries to arrive in Europe came to England in July 1837. Some family stories say that Jonathan and his father Henry Clegg were in the Preston town center when the missionaries first came there on July 22, and heard Heber C. Kimball say, “Amen!” when he saw the political banner stretched across the street inscribed with the words, “Truth Will Prevail.” A week later, on 30 July 1837, the first baptisms were performed in the River Ribble in Preston; Joseph Fielding baptized Jonathan there on 26 September 1837, and confirmed him a member of the Church on 30 September 1837. Joseph Fielding baptized Ellen Walmsley Clegg on 25 March 1838, and John Holsall confirmed her on 30 March of that year. There was a great deal of persecution towards members of the Church in England at that time.
A second son was born to Jonathan and Ellen on 1 or 2 April 1840, who was named William. At that time the family was living in Preston at 6 Floyer Street. The street is still there, but the weavers’ terraced homes have been replaced with more modern housing. They were still living there in 1841 when the national census was taken, and Jonathan’s occupation was listed as Cotton Weaving.
In 1840, more apostles of the Church arrived in England, and Peter Melling was ordained to be the Patriarch of the Church in Great Britain. At a special meeting on 4 August 1840, both Jonathan and Ellen were given patriarchal blessings. They were then twenty-four years old.
By the beginning of 1842, baby William had died. On 22 February 1842 a third son, again named William, was born; in 1844 a fourth son named Joseph was born. In September 1845 the fifth son, Henry was born, but died that same year; Joseph died in 1846 at the age of two.
In 1847, Jonathan and Ellen and their sons James and William had moved to Farington in the parish of Penwortham, three and a half miles south of Preston. It was there that their first daughter, Alice, was born 23 October 1846. A year later, Jonathan baptized his oldest son, James, on 17 October 1847.
The national census of 1851 showed the family to be once again living in Preston, at 314 Ribbleton Lane. Jonathan, at age 34, was listed as a weaver; Ellen, age 34, was a winder in the cotton mills, winding thread onto spools; James, at age 13, was a “tenter” or cotton tender in the mills; and William, age nine, was a “scholar.” Alice, at four, was at home, and a 20-year-old nephew, Joseph Parker, who was a laborer, also lived with them.
On 2 October 1852 their sixth son and fourth surviving child was born, and again named Henry (called Harry). By this time his family had moved to a house at 25 Crime Street in Preston, behind the prison.
The Church established the Perpetual Emigration Fund in 1849 to help European members gather to Zion, although it was still very expensive for them to do so. Jonathan’s youngest brother, Henry Jr., immigrated to America with his wife and two sons in 1855. One of his sons and his wife died along the way. Later in 1855, on 20 November, Jonathan and Ellen’s last child and second daughter, Margaret Ellen, was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, where the family had moved in 1854. They were now nearly 40 years old, with a family of five surviving children.
In 1856 the handcart program was announced, which greatly reduced the cost
of traveling to Utah. Jonathan and Ellen and their family, except the oldest son James who was in the military in the Crimean War, made plans to go to Zion. They left from the Liverpool Docks on 25 May 1856 on board the sailing ship Horizon with a company of 856 Saints, captained by Edward Martin. After a relatively uneventful voyage, they arrived in Boston on 30 June 1856.
They boarded a train for Iowa City, and rode in cattle cars as far as Albany, New York. There they laid over for two days and two nights, and then changed to “third-class accommodation,” which consisted of seats made of a two-inch plank with no back. In this way they traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, at a very slow pace. It would have been a difficult journey, especially with their young children. William was 14, Alice was 9, Henry was three, and Margaret Ellen was a seven-month-old infant. They were in Cleveland for two days awaiting a change of trains, and then traveled on to Iowa City.
There they built and supplied their handcarts; each person was allowed 17 pounds of possessions to be taken along with their household goods and food supplies. One descendant of Henry Jr. reports that he had always heard that Jonathan was the Supplies Officer for the Martin Handcart Company. They left Iowa City on 28 July 1856, and arrived in Florence, Nebraska (formerly Winter Quarters), nearly 200 miles away, on August 22. There they repaired carts, and on August 25, despite warnings about the lateness of the season, left for Utah.
There were many problems for the handcart companies. At first, they were plagued by broken carts, sudden rainstorms, Indian harassment, and swollen feet. More serious was the loss of their cattle to Indians early in the journey, sudden attacks of diarrhea and dysentery, the necessity of crossing rivers in freezing temperatures, and their shrinking food supply. But the real trial came with an early frost in September, followed by brief periods of snow. When they reached Fort Laramie on 8 October, many sold watches and jewelry for food, which had become very scant. On 19 October, there was a heavy, continuing snowfall, which brought all travel to a halt. The Martin Company was then at Red Bluffs, still 65 miles east of Devil’s Gate. Many had dropped heavy bedding and clothing earlier to lighten their loads, and now had nothing sufficient to keep them warm. They were helplessly stranded in the Wyoming mountains.
Mention is made in several accounts of Jonathan and Ellen being of service to their fellow handcarters. Some say that they went among the tents with a lantern at night, seeking to aid the sick and dying. While crossing the plains, many times they offered their help to the weary travelers, putting poultices of stale bread and water on swollen feet too inflamed to go on. Sometimes, when water was not available, they gave a fever victim a piece of linen cloth dipped in vinegar to put in his mouth. They used quinine in many ways, which was especially useful in cases of scurvy and cholera.
On 28 October, the advance riders of the rescue team rode into their camp, bringing hope of food and clothing and assistance, and encouraging them to continue onward as best they could. On November 1, with snow falling, they made camp at Independence Rock. Only one-third of the pioneers were by then still able to walk. Two days later they had to cross the Sweetwater, which was filled with floating ice. Three boys from Salt Lake, all aged 18 years, carried nearly every member of the company across the river. That night the pioneers sheltered at “Martin’s Cove,” where most of the handcarts were abandoned and they rode in the rescue wagons the remaining 325 miles to Salt Lake.
During the trek, Ellen would have to shake the flour from the sacks in order to combine it with a little water for a thin gruel to eat. It was also said that they ate boiled wheat, and made soup from cow and buffalo hides. Jonathan and Ellen awoke one morning to find that nine-year-old Alice had fallen off her bed, and her long hair had frozen in the ice. They poured heated water on the ice to loosen her hair and release her. In later years, Alice remembered “the awful suffering they endured because of cold, hunger, and scarcity of clothing. She saw many die along the way. When the food got scarce, she remembered her mother making small hard cakes for the children, telling them to suck them so they wouldn’t get so hungry. Also, that the sleet would wet their clothing and the wind was so cold that their dresses would freeze stiff as they trudged along. Crossing the icy streams, where her feet could not reach the bottom she clung to the staves of the cart, her brother William pulling it along until she could reach the bottom.” Of the 622 members of the Martin Company, between 135 and 150 people died. Jonathan and Ellen were blessed to finish this trek with their family and their long-term health intact. They arrived in Salt Lake City on 30 November 1856, 10 days after Margaret Ellen’s first birthday.
The Jonathan Clegg family was requested or assigned to go on to Iron County to settle, but Jonathan was reluctant to do this. According to one story, he later said in his Lancashire accent, “I didn’t tell ‘em I’d now’t go, but tow’d ‘em as I thought I’d tramped far enough for one season, and they finally said we would stop at Provo.” They moved with several other families into the old seminary building, which was in “a sorry looking condition.” They soon bought an old cabin belonging to James Daniels, in which they spent the winter of 1857. The bishop advised Jonathan to make wooden shoes (clogs) because of his experience in that field. He walked to Salt Lake City to get the proper tools and leather, 44 miles each way, and “never had any trouble with the Indians.
In 1859, wanting to own some land of his own, Jonathan began making the 26-mile walk up from Provo to the Heber Valley to grub sagebrush and willows off his homestead claim of 160 acres. It ran through about one-third of what is present day Heber City, on the south side of town, going east and west. The family moved to a dugout on the homestead in the spring of 1860, and at a later date moved to a home on their farm, which is now the southwest corner of the Heber City Park.
Ellen Walmsley Clegg was called by President Brigham Young to serve as a midwife to the women of Heber Valley. At first she didn’t feel capable of the job, but when President Young told her that she had been called of God in a vision to him, she accepted and performed well for many years in that capacity. At that time there were no doctors in the area, and she delivered over 800 babies. Her fee for confinement cases was $2.50 cash, or the equivalent in meat, flour, or grain. She would travel to her patients on horseback, or on a mule, or in a wagon or sleigh. In the extremely cold winters of Heber Valley, she would sometimes hold onto the horse’s tail as she plowed through deep snow and blizzards, arriving at the home of the sick with her shoes and stockings frozen to her. Because of her close involvement with so many Heber families, many children were taught to call her “Aunt Ellen” or “Grandma Clegg,” and were surprised to find upon growing up that she was not really their grandmother.
In 1861, at the age of fourteen, Jonathan and Ellen’s oldest daughter, Alice, was married to Robert Broadhead, one of the first three settlers of the valley. Robert was also an immigrant convert from England. They eventually had thirteen children, ten of whom lived to adulthood. In 1864 Alice’s brother William married Emma Louisa Gittins. They lived with their growing family in Heber until the late 1870’s, when they moved to southern Idaho.
In 1864 Jonathan and Ellen were invited to come to the Endowment House in Salt Lake City to receive their endowments, and they were sealed to each other there on 18 June 1864. They had been married for 28 years, and were both 48 years old. The next year Jonathan’s father, Henry Clegg Sr., died at the age of 76.
The Black Hawk Indian War began in about 1866, and Jonathan and Ellen moved their family onto the “Stake House lot” with the other settlers for protection. Jonathan served as captain of the martial band for the militia, and served for 92 days. Although there were a number of alarms, there were no actual skirmishes with the Indians. Jonathan was later honored as a veteran of the Black Hawk War, and his name was listed on the monument on Memorial Hill in Midway.
Jonathan apparently had some of the musical talent his brother Henry was known for. He was the leader of the martial band for many years in Heber, and was mentioned as the first bandmaster in the city. He was also a choir leader. The story is told that when he was leading the singing at a conference, he was told to sing only three verses of the closing song, as time was short. Instead, he led the congregation in singing all the verses, and when he was later reprimanded for doing so, he said in his English accent, “If they didn’t want them all sung, they wouldn’t have them in the book!”
Jonathan supported his family by farming and raising livestock. It was said of him that he could write fairly well, and could figure exceptionally well, and that he could handle his own business matters. He loved to tinker with watches and clocks, trying to make them run.
In 1868 Jonathan was married polygamously to a destitute widow from England, Sarah Toomer Young. Sarah had four children under the age of 13, and it was said that Jonathan cared for these children as if they were his own and was “an ideal husband.”
Sarah died in 1900 and was buried in Heber City.
In 1869 Jonathan and his son William sponsored Jonathan and Ellen’s oldest son James and his wife Mary Ann to come to Utah with the PEF. James and Mary Ann were on the 1870 census living in Heber City, with the notation that James was blind. He had a very sad end; he died on 9 February 1875 at the age of 37 in Salt Lake City, where he had been imprisoned with his wife for fraud and begging. The cause of his death was determined to be pneumonia, brought on by “exposure and hard drinking.” He was buried in Salt Lake City.
Margaret Ellen, the youngest child of Jonathan and Ellen, was married in 1872 to William Barnes, who was also from England. Henry (Harry) Clegg was married to Christina Bengtson, a Swedish convert who was fourteen years old, in 1874. That same year, Jonathan became an American citizen.
During this period of time, Jonathan was asked to give up a large portion of his homestead. Heber had grown, and the land was needed for expansion of the town. The city also needed a source of funds to build the needed schools. Eventually, Jonathan sold 120 acres of his homestead to the city for only $150, stipulating that the land should be subdivided into city lots and sold to raise money to support the schools. There were some hard feelings resulting from the situation, with harsh words exchanged, but Jonathan acceded to the wishes of the church and city leaders and remained faithful and active in the church. He was a High Priest, and traveled throughout the valley performing ordinances and blessing his numerous grandchildren.
In 1890, Jonathan and Ellen traveled with their daughters and sons-in-law to the Logan Temple to do temple work for their deceased family members in England who had not joined the church. Their sons who had died were also sealed to them. When the Salt Lake Temple was completed, and had electric lights installed in and around it, Jonathan and Ellen went there to witness the occasion. Jonathan turned to Ellen with tears rolling down his face and said, “I have seen my patriarchal blessing fulfilled. I have seen the temple of the Lord lit up like a pillar of fire.”
In July of 1897 Jonathan traveled to Salt Lake again to attend the Pioneer Jubilee Celebration in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the entrance into Salt Lake Valley. He was at that time the oldest English immigrant living in Heber Valley.
Ellen Walmsley Clegg died 30 October 1899 at the age of 83 years 9 months, and was buried 1 November 1899 in the Heber City Cemetery. The funeral procession was a half a mile long, led by two relief societies, the city’s young women, and the primary children, then forty vehicles. Her coffin lid was covered with two or three layers of flowers placed there by over 200 children. She had lived a long and respected life, sixty- three years of which were as the wife of Jonathan.
Jonathan lived just over a year longer, and died in Heber City on 13 January 1901 at the age of 84 years, 10 months. He was buried next to Ellen on 16 January 1901. The martial band led his funeral procession and played at the services. An old friend from the Martin Handcart Company, Bishop John Watkins from Midway, spoke at Jonathan’s funeral as he had at Ellen’s.
One of his grandsons, Ferris Clegg, said, “Both remained staunch Latter-day Saints to the very end, and bore wonderful testimonies to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that Joseph Smith was indeed a true prophet of the true and living God. Both lived lives worthy for any person to follow. Grandfather and Grandmother spent much time in the Logan Temple doing work for their dead.”