Saturday, November 25, 2006

John Perry - (1799-1855)

Photo of Benbow Pond

The following is a history of one of my ancestors, John Perry. This history was written by Hope J. Krum, and was submitted to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Sources for this history are: A history written by Edith Folsome Hatch and the Diary of Amelia Hatch Jackson.


John Perry was born 22 June 1799 in Bishoptown, Herefordshire, England. He resided in the locality of his birth, where he became a master carpenter, cabinet maker and wheelwright and had several apprentices under his supervision.

John married Grace Ann Williams who was born 2 May 1801 (some records show 21 February) in Ashperton, Herefordshire, England to James and Sarah Williams. (You can read a history of Grace Ann Williams here.)

John and Grace Ann resided in the neighborhood of her birth after their marriage. They had nine (some sources say seven or eight) children being born there. They were: James, Elizabeth, Grace, Eliza Ann, Thomas, Alice, William, Elizabeth Melissa (my great grandmother) and John. The members of this family took a prominent part in the religious activities of the community. They were members of a society, numbering more that six hundred, known as the United Brethren. These' good people had broken off from the Wesleyan Methodist Church and organized themselves for the purpose of studying the scriptures, as they were not satisfied with the teachings of the ministers of the mother church. They had forty-five licensed ministers and several chapels. John Perry with seven years service to his credit was one of these ministers. They were constantly pleading with the Lord to send them more light and knowledge.

When Wilford Woodruff was on a mission in England he had a inspiration to go south. He visited that locality in 1840, he found the group known as the United Brethren to be earnest, sincere souls. (You can read from Elder Woodruff's Journal about his experience with the United Brethren here.) Elder Woodruff preached the gospel of salvation to these people and John Perry first heard the gospel on March 5, 1840; and was baptized March 8 by Wilford Woodruff He was one of the first six to be baptized in the pool on the property of Mr. John Benbow. Soon after his baptism, John was ordained an elder of the church by Brigham Young. Grace Ann Williams Perry was baptized 27 March 1840, also in the pool on the John Benbow Hill Farm, where more that six hundred of their religious associates received baptism at the hands of Elder Woodruff.

Several of the Perry children died previous to the family's departure from their home in Ashperton, Herefordshire, England. However, when the two-hundred souls, who formed the second group of foreign Mormon immigrants, sailed from Liverpool, on Monday September 8, 1840, John Perry, his wife Grace , their three daughters, Eliza, Alice, and Elizabeth Melissa, and their sons, William (or James?) and John, were numbered among them. This company in the charge of Theodore Turley sailed on the ship, North America, and they arrived in Nauvoo on 24 November 1840.

One of their severest trials befell them while they were yet upon the water. Their son, William, died and was buried on Staten Island. Upon reaching Nauvoo, John's ability as master carpenter and joiner was soon discovered and appreciated, thus he was assigned some of the most technical work on the temple. Grace was always found busily engaged with the other sisters, providing for the women and helping the people of the community.

While in Nauvoo, their son John, and daughter, Alice both died. This left but two children, Eliza Ann and Elizabeth Melissa. Elizabeth Melissa Perry was baptized in the Mississippi River 18 May 1845. John Perry and his wife Grace Ann Williams received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple 21 January 1846. John was also ordained a Seventy in the Nauvoo Temple.
The Saints were happy and contented in their new home, but not for long. The grumblings of Satan were heard again and the Perry family began preparations to accompany the Saints in their quest for a new home.

Upon being driven from Nauvoo in the spring of 1846, John, Grace and their daughter, Elizabeth Melissa, accompanied the other Saints to Winter Quarters, arriving the later part of August or early September. Eliza Ann had married Ezra T. Benson and joined the company where he was a member. (she was later the mother of seven children.) John Perry was fully occupied in helping to erect shelters for his own family and other Saints. Afterwards, he assisted in preparing conveyances in which the Saints could Cross the plains. By June 14, 1847 they were camped on the Elkhorn River where they were assigned to Charles Rich's company with Edward Stove as captain. On Thursday June 17, 1847 they were organized and ready to start their westward journey which began June 19, 1847. It would seem slow and arduous to us but it was very satisfying to the persecuted Saints. The company traveled an average of ten miles a day, never failing to leave messages and signs along the way, that others might find them and thus have an easier journey.

What rejoicing there was in the camp when the Saints were visited by brethren who were returning from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi to assist other stricken Saints. Such unity and brotherly love as existed would be highly valuable in our day.

The company in which the Perry family traveled, arrived at the Old Fort on October 3, 1847, this being the ninth company to arrive at the Great Salt Lake Valley. The family remained in the fort during the winter of 1847-48 and early in April 1848 they joined the families of Peregrin and Jezereal (Jesreal) Shoemaker in settling the country known as Sessions settle (later Bountiful), remaining in that immediate neighborhood, where they cultivated the soil and fought the crickets at the time the Saint's miraculous help from the seagulls. In 1849 the family was informed that Brigham Young wished them to go assist in the settlement of the country south. Always obedient to counsel, they loaded up their belongings and went to Salt Lake City where President Brigham Young told them that they had been misinformed, and advised them to go back to Session's Settlement. While retracing their steps they found a beautiful spring surrounded by some splendid land and decided to locate in that place, and later acquired the title to homestead adjacent to this spring. It is located some eight miles north of Salt Lake City.

During late summer and early fall of 1849, John Perry built a log cabin near the spring; thus providing a home for his wife Grace Ann and their daughter, Elizabeth Melissa. In the spring of 1850, John was appointed to preside over the Saints in the southern part of Session's Settlement and he held this position until his release in the fall of 1852. On September 8, 1850, he was sustained as a member of the first stake high council in Utah.

The family was always hospitable and charitable in their attitude toward others who came into the neighborhood and through uniting together were able to provide the necessities of life for themselves and also assistance to others.

At a special conference held in Salt Lake City, on 28 August 1852 John was called to fill a mission in Great Britian, for which he departed the same fall, September 15, 1952, thus leaving Grace Ann Perry alone in a strange land. She never wavered in her determination to truly be her husband's helpmate, so bravely she assumed the responsibility of managing farm affairs, a task to which she was not accustomed. She never failed to write encouraging letters, no matter what conditions were at home. Her integrity and faith were characteristics of common knowledge among her neighbors.
John Perry arrived in England in January of 1853 and was assigned to labor in Herefordshire. On June 7, 1854, he was appointed to preside over the Wiltshire Conference, which position he held until he was released in the spring of 1855.

One day while attending to her household duties, Grace happened to glance out the door and was surprised to see a tree standing in the pasture some distance from the house. She realized immediately that there was no tree in that location so decided to investigate the phenomenon. As she approached the spot she saw a man standing beneath the tree. The apparition then disappeared and she returned to the house meditating upon the significance of the affair. She was not to learn of its meaning until the next company of immigrants entered the valley, and brought her word of her husband's death.

Upon being released from his labors, on May 5, 1855, Brother Perry sailed from Liverpool with a large company of Saints on the ship, Curling. Upon arriving in America, he was appointed captain of a company of Saints, but upon reaching Mormon Grove, Kansas he was stricken with cholera and after eight hours of illness he passed to the great beyond. He was gifted as a singer and one who was with him at Mormon Grove relates that he spent several hours singing hymns just prior to his death. Upon comparing the time of his demise and the time of the apparition she found them to be the same, 18 July 1855.

John Perry was well built and of average height. He was very particular concerning his personal appearance and always looked very genteel. He was very strong in character, exacting, yet happy and congenial.

Their daughter, Elizabeth Melissa, married Orin Hatch, also a pioneer of the community, on 10 October 1855 and this couple made their home on the Perry homestead where Orin relieved Sister Perry of her responsibilities of the farm work. (Elizabeth Melissa received her endowments 14 November 1855 in the Endowment House, and was sealed to Orin Hatch the same day by Brigham Young.) They were the parents of thirteen children.

One of their daughters, Amelia Elizabeth Hatch, recorded in her diary that when they received the cloths of her Grandfather John Perry, after his death that there were some apple seeds in the pocket of his coat. They planted them and they were the best eating apples in the area. They never canned any apples from that tree as they were so good eating fresh.

John Perry was a great missionary and has many hundreds of descendants and I am proud to be one of his great-great grand daughters.

Information from history written by Edith Folsome Hatch and Diary of Amelia Hatch Jackson.
Written by Hope Jackson Krum


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