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John Wesley Brackenbury
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Birth: Aug. 12, 1829
New London
Huron County
Ohio, USA
Death: Jul. 1, 1902
Riverside
Riverside County
California, USA

John lived in the traumatic and dramatic days of early Mormonism. He was forming simple toddler sentences when his father became the first martyr of the religious movement. As a small child, his life was spared one winter's night when his mother made the wise decision to flee the family home and hide in a corn field. The house was destroyed that night. Missouri had made it legal to kill Mormons.

As a zealous young man, John was a member of 3 handcart companies that helped believers cross the American West to join the Kingdom of God--Salt Lake City. He eventually left the Utah church and joined the Reorganized Latter Day Saints.

His experiences during the birth of Mormonism made him the ideal witness in the federal court case between what is known now as the Temple Lot Church and the Reorganized Latter Day Saints (known today as the Community of Christ). One can read what he said about his life in his own words below. Using Roman numerals for delineation, there is other primary source documentation of his life as well.

But first, his family:

MOTHER: Elizabeth Davis
FATHER: Joseph Blanchette Brackenbury

1st WIFE: Samantha Ann Daley
CHILDREN:
Arthur John Brackenbury
Lester Brackenbury
Luna Brackenbury Noble
Joseph Albert Brackenbury
Lewis Brackenbury
Emma B Brackenbury Flanders
Charles Alvin Brackenbury
Helen Brackenbury Pierson
Elvin Brackenbury
Ethel Brackenbury

2nd WIFE: Nancy Persis Curtis (Gibbs)
CHILD: John Wesley Brackenbury


I The late Arthur J. Brackenbury of Independence recalled [of] his grandmother, Elizabeth Brackenbury [Elizabeth Davis, Goldsmith, Brackenbury, Durfee, Smith, Lott] "She lived on a 10-acre tract on the Blue, where Centropolis now is," Mr. Brackenbury said. "It was in November when she was driven from her home, and she and a son [John Wesley] spent their first night with only a corn-shock as shelter."

With several other families, they went out the old river road north of Independence and crossed the river at the Wayne City landing. On the Clay County side, shelters were prepared by propping willows against a sycamore log and the exiles remained there the rest of the winter in expulsion.

Mr. Brackenbury's father, John W. Brackenbury was 6 years old at the time of the expulsion, [abt 1835] He later moved to California, where Mr. [Arthur] Brackenbury was born in 1861.

"The idea always was to return to Independence," Mr. Brackenbury said. "We came back in 1876, by covered wagon from San Bernardino to Salt Lake City. We waited there a year for the Union Pacific railroad to be finished, and we chartered the first boxcar that ran from Ogden to Omaha. It cost father $1000 to move his family and household goods."

Brackenbury recalled that the rail trip was delayed two days at Cheyenne when the wood-burning locomotive ran out of fuel. The trip was made by river boat from Omaha to White Cloud, Kansas, and by covered wagon from White Cloud to Independence.

Editorsí note: The Union Pacific Railroad was completed to Promontory Point north of Salt Lake in 1869. The Brackenbury family stayed in White Cloud, Kansas for several years before going on to Independence, Missouri in 1877. [William J Curtis family research - John Brackenbury's letter to the Herald]


II In the Circuit Court of the United States, Western District of Missouri, Western Division, at Kansas City. Testimony in The RLDS vs. The Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri (filed/published 1893)

Complainantís Abstract of Pleading and Evidence.
p. 106-107

219 J.W. BRACKENBURY, being produce, sworn, and examined on the part of the plaintiff, testified as follows:

I lived at Independence, Missouri. Was born on the twelfth day of August, 1829. Before going to Independence, I lived in Kansas, and prior to that in California. I never lived in Salt Lake City nor in the Territory; I was there for a while. I lived at Nauvoo, Illinois; I never lived at Kirtland, Ohio. I lived in Ohio a little while; was born in Ohio. I went to Nauvoo, Illinois, in the spring of 1840; left there in 1846. Went to Salt Lake City in the spring of 1855, lived there until the spring of 1857, came back to the States again, and went back to Salt Lake in the spring of í58, and from there through to California Ö

Ö The last time I was at Nauvoo was in 1850. I was back there on a visit. I have not been there since. The reason I know the temple was never completed, I have been to the temple perhaps twenty times and I have been over it from top to bottom time and again. I know it was not completed because it was burned down a short time after I was there. The time I refer to is prior to 1850. If it has been finished since, I donít know anything about it. It was burned down before that time. I was there in 1844; was in the temple in 1844. I was there from the very time the temple was started, but not all the time. Was there every few days. Saw it in process of erection from the start. I never saw the ceremony of baptism for the dead. No sir, I did not.

p. 231-232

548 JOHN W. BRACKENBURY, of lawful age, being sworn on the part of the Plaintiff, testified in chief:
Examination by Mr. Traber.

My name is John W. Brackenbury; I was born in 1829, on the 12th day of August, in the State of Ohio. I cannot say how long I lived in Ohio. I lived in Missouri; I think we came here in the spring of 1832. My mother came here then, and I with her, and I was here in 1833. I remember that; I was then three years old, in my fourth year I can remember of going to school. I lived here in Jackson county; my mother had ten acres of land up on the Big Blue; it must have been seven or eight miles from Independence; it was up in what was called Whitmer Settlement. I lived in Jackson county until November, 1833, when the Mormons were driven out. We went across the river at what is now called Wayne City; went over in the bottom and camped there by a big sycamore log, and staid [sic] there all winter. I remember the circumstances under which my mother and the rest of the children left. I remember my mother taking three of us children, (she had four boys, but the oldest one was not at home,) I remember her taking us three to a manís house by the name of Mr. Joshua Lewis. That was about three hundred or four hundred yards from our house, from where we lived on the Blue.

My father died in New York before we came out here; I was about two years old; I do not remember him at all. We lived in Ohio, at the time of his death, but he died in New York; he was away from home. At the time I left Jackson county, I do not know the occasion of our having to leave; but I know this much, that one day while we were at Mr. Lewisís a man by the name of Philo Dibble came to the house; I remember him, because he lived just across the road from us. He came to the house, and I remember seeing him. He had been wounded; had his powder horn, and the bullet had went right through the powder horn, and the splinters were sticking in his side. He belonged to the church, the Latter Day Saints Church, and so did Mr. Lewis.

I remember him looking so white, and they took him upstairs, and just before night he was brought down, or came down himself and went off, and then night came, and after that, my mother took us out in the cornfield, and so did Mrs. Lewis (contíd on page 232) and her children, we staid in the cornfield all night, and in the morning when we came back to the house I remember that the house was torn down to the eaves, and the rafters were all off of it, and I remember going into the house, and there was a table sitting in the middle of the room, and a big large pan of honey sitting on it. Then they took us away from there off into the woods to a schoolhouse, and there were the women, children, and an old man there, but I do not remember the old manís name. We staid there all day, the women, children, and the old man were there all day, crying, and in great distress.

From that time I do not remember anything until we got to the river. I remember seeing and crossing it and going over in the bottom and camping by a big log; from there we moved over to Arthurís Mill, about three miles from Liberty. I have no recollection how many people there were there at the time. We were then in Clay county, about three miles from Liberty, on a creek called Shoal Creek. We staid there over a year, I think; went from there to Far West; we remained at Far West until the trouble came up again.

I remember something about that trouble. I am not positive about the year that we went there, but I remember positively about the year we left there. I was pretty young when we went there, but I was older when we left; we left there in 1838, and went over to Quincy, Illinois. We left, I think, in the latter part of November, 1838; it was pretty cold weather; I know it snowed and rained, and we camped in the mud. We got to Quincy, in 1838, and went from there up to Nauvoo, in 1839. We got to Quincy late in the fall of 1838; staid there that winter until in the spring of 1839, then we moved up to Nauvoo, and we staid there until the time Brigham Young started for the West, and we went with him as far as the Missouri River; there we saw so much of their manner of doing business, that we went back to Quincy.

SOURCE: Brackenbury, J. W., Testimony, in The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Complainant, vs. The Church of Christ [1893], 106. Source Location: LDS Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (pages 106-107 and 231-232)


III OBITUARIES:
1.) A telegram from Bro. O.E. Flanders to Bro. Arthur J. Brackenbury, Tuesday, announced the sad intelligence that his father, Bro. John W. Brackenbury, had passed away at 3:45 that morning. Bro. Brackenbury was well known and highly esteemed in this city and surrounding country, and general regret was expressed at his departure.

He was born August 12, 1829, and would have been 73 years old next month. He was here [Independence] with his parents and participated in the trying scenes of the expulsion of the saints. He well remembered the falling of the stars in 1833.

From [Independence] [the family] went into Clay and Caldwell counties, and thence to Nauvoo, later drifting to Utah, but never uniting with the Brighamites. He finally went to Riverside, California, where he resided a number of years. On April 1, 1877, he returned to Independence, where he continued to reside until October, 1900, when, with his family, he moved to Riverside, California, where his son Luther resided, and died there Tuesday. He greatly desired to return here, but his wish remained ungratified.

He was a faithful, consistent follower of the Master and his heart was full of kindly sympathy with his fellowman. He was twice married. Brn. Lester and Arthur J. and Sr. O.S. Noble, of this city, and Brn. Luther, Joseph and Elvin, and Srs. O.E. Flanders and Walter Pearson, of California, from the former marriage, and his wife and son John, being those immediately bereaved. May the Lord grant them the comfort of his Spirit in their bereavement.
SOURCE: BRACKENBURY, J. W. "General Church News," Independence section, in Zion's Ensign 13.27 (July 3, 1902 (Thursday)), p. 2.

(Obituaries)
2.) DIED. BRACKENBURY. At Riverside, California, July 1, 1902, Elder John W. Brackenbury. Was born in Huron county, Ohio, August 12, 1829, baptized when 8 years old; baptized into the Reorganized Church in 1866, by Alexander H. Smith, ordained an elder in 1868 by Elder Rummell.

His father was an elder in the old church, and died while away on a mission. His mother, Elizabeth, moved to Independence, Missouri, from Ohio, in 1832, then to Far West, from there to Nauvoo, Illinois. His life has been that of a Christian looking for the better home beyond. He leaves a wife and ten children. Funeral services July 2d, by Elder J. C. Foss, text 1 Cor. 15:19-26.
SOURCE: Zion's Ensign, Independence, Missouri. VOL 13. NO 30. (July 24, 1902 (Thursday)), p. 8.

IV The following is John's character profile taken from the introduction of an apology letter from Joseph Smith, III to John for calling him muleish behind his back.

"I did use this expression in conversation with Bro Warnky, "I know John Brackenbury: have known him all my life, almost, we were school and playmates when boys, and if there is a bigger mule, when he believes himself to be right, in the church, I donít know his name. And it is possible, if John should be in the wrong for him to be obstinate in it." I further added that my experience hither to has been with John Brackenbury, that he would had not, to my knowledge condescended to mean advantages to gain his end; nor had I ever heard of his doing dishonorable things; and that when he was convinced, or saw his wrong he usually put forth an effort to make
things right..."
SOURCE: [JSLB3, page 90] May 5th 80 Joseph Smith III Letterbook Book #3 page 90
 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Joseph Blanchette Brackenbury (1788 - 1832)
  Elizabeth Davis Brackenbury (1791 - 1876)
 
 Spouses:
  Samantha Ann Daley Brackenbury (1842 - 1882)
  Nancy Persis Curtis Gibbs (1863 - 1950)*
 
 Children:
  Arthur John Brackenbury (1861 - 1937)*
  Lester Brackenbury (1863 - 1938)*
  Luna Brackenbury Noble (1865 - 1948)*
  Joseph Albert Brackenbury (1867 - 1947)*
  Lewis Brackenbury (1869 - 1954)*
  Emma B Brackenbury Flanders (1872 - 1935)*
  Charles Alvin Brackenbury (1874 - 1922)*
  Helen Brackenbury Pierson (1877 - 1948)*
  Elvin Brackenbury (1880 - 1938)*
  Ethel Brackenbury (1882 - 1882)*
  John Wesley Brackenbury (1886 - 1961)*
 
 Sibling:
  Benjamin Blanchard Brackenbury (1827 - 1897)*
  John Wesley Brackenbury (1829 - 1902)
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Evergreen Memorial Park and Mausoleum
Riverside
Riverside County
California, USA
 
Maintained by: Observer4wing
Originally Created by: Michael S. Emett
Record added: Jan 27, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 7121777
John Wesley Brackenbury
Added by: Observer4wing
 
John Wesley Brackenbury
Added by: Observer4wing
 
John Wesley Brackenbury
Added by: Glenn and Tracy Morrow
 
 
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- Jennifer Brackenbury Boger
 Added: Aug. 12, 2015
 
 
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