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 John Sivil Smith

John Sivil Smith

Redmarley, Forest of Dean District, Gloucestershire, England
Death 19 Feb 1905 (aged 95)
Kaysville, Davis County, Utah, USA
Burial Kaysville, Davis County, Utah, USA
Plot 3-17-B-8
Memorial ID 124619 · View Source
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John Sivil Smith was born March 10, 1809, in Redmarley D'Abitot, Worcestershire, England. (Boundary changes in 1931, now place Redmarley D'Abitot in Gloucestershire). John Sivil is the son of William Smith, born 1770, Much Marcle, Herefordshire, England, and Mary Sivil, born 1778, Berrow, Worcestershire, England. John's father was a stockman and the first 15 years of his life were spent on his parents' farm.

At the age of 15, he began a five year apprenticeship learning to be a carpenter, wood-worker and wagon-maker. He pursued his trade for three years following his apprenticeship and returned to farming and stock-raising.

John was married in 13 Feb 1838 to Jane Wadley (daughter of Michael Wadley and Jane Ennis), who was born Jan. 2, 1814 in Weston Under Penyard, Worcestershire, England.

Through the preaching of LDS Apostle Wilford Woodruff, John and Jane were converted and baptized as members of the LDS Church near the John Benbow/Hill Farm on 18 May 1840 at a place Wilford Woodruff refers to as "Halkington," apparently in or near Dymock. That same day, John was ordained a Priest by Wilford Woodruff.

By the mid-1840's some 320 people in the Smith's general neighborhood had joined the Church. On the morning of 14 June 1840, John Sivil Smith attended a unique priesthood conference at the Gadfield Elm chapel in Worcestershire. By prior notice the preachers and members of the Bran Green and Gadfield Elm Branch of the Froomes Hill Circuit of the United Brethren met. Thomas Kington, former leader of the United Brethren, called the meeting to order with Apostle Willard Richards presiding. The leaders organized the conference into twelve LDS branches, with Thomas Kington as conference president.

John Sivil Smith was one of the twelve branch presidents called to preside over the Lime Street Branch. In addition to this calling, he was asked to be the conference's standing clerk. The Lime Street Branch was small. When John reported at a September leadership meeting for the Bran Green and Gadfield Elm Conference, he said his branch had 17 members.

Later that same year a second daughter, Mary Wadley Smith was born into the Smith household on 12 Dec 1840 in Much Marcle, but soon died. A history written by John & Jane's youngest daughter Harriet Emily Smith indicates that "Mary died the fall after [John and Jane] joined the Church. Because they hadn't had the baby christened in the Church of England, the minister refused to give [Mary] a burial place in the church yard or give [her] a Christian burial. This was because they were now Mormons. The sexton knew father and mother and sympathized with them, and unknown to the minister, he accepted the little child and buried it in the church yard" [likely St. Bartholomew's Church graveyard, Much Marcle, Herefordshire, England].

John, Jane & daughter Annie emigrated to America with a company of Latter-day Saints from Bristol, England on 10 May 1841 on the ship "Harmony" and arrived in Quebec City on 12 July 1841. The Smith's company spent three weeks in French-speaking Quebec and on 8 Aug 1841, they boarded a river steamer "Canada" which churned its way up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. Opposite Montreal at La Prairie the English company transferred to a newly built railroad which traveled 20 miles south to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

The next morning, the group boarded the "Burlington" a steamer that headed due south on the Richelieu River, covered the north-south length of Lake Champlain, and moved downriver and south still to Whitehall, New York. After a day and a night, the company disembarked at Whitehall. They chartered a canal boat south entering the Hudson River, and joined the Erie Canal above Albany. On the Erie Canal they traversed New York state westward to Buffalo. At Buffalo the group split up, some going to Nauvoo via Chicago and others, including the Smiths, heading for Kirtland, Ohio. At Buffalo the Smiths boarded a Great Lakes steamer which carried them across part of Lake Ontario to Fairport, twelve miles northeast of Kirtland.

After being in Kirtland for some time, another daughter Ellen was born on 17 Feb 1842. In the fall of 1843, the Smiths and their two young daughters finally headed west to Nauvoo. They arrived in November at La Harpe, a town near Nauvoo where a little colony of Saints resided. John rented a farm at Camp Creek, a settlement along the river that runs through Dallas and Durham townships, directly west of La Harpe township.

By the spring, 1844, anti-Mormon sentiment boiled over and on 27 June 1844 anti-Mormon mobs killed Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Several months after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and Hyrum, another baby girl joined the Smith household. Daughter Elizabeth Wadley Smith was born at Camp Creek on 6 October 1844.

Early in 1846 many Saints began a massive exodus from Nauvoo. The Smiths did not join this initial February exodus, but waited to leave their home until after their next child was born. Sarah Jane was born 14 April 1846 at Camp Creek.

The Smiths were not immune from anti-Mormon mob activity. Their home at Camp Creek was constructed of logs with a blanket hung in the opening for a door. One night a member of a mob raised the blanket and shot into the room. It grazed John Sivil's head and lodged in the wall just over his head. The next morning, he told members of the mob that it was a close shot, but they would have to get closer than that to get him. He told the mob to be patient and he would leave Nauvoo as quickly as possible.

Sometime likely in May the Smiths left Nauvoo crossing the Mississippi into Iowa, traveling west through Farmington and Bonaparte; crossing Chariton, Shoal, Locust, Medicine and Camp Creeks to Garden Grove on the headwaters of the Grand River, where they stayed briefly to rest. They moved west another 33 miles to the Saint's new settlement at Mt. Pisgah. The Smiths stayed that summer of 1846 at Mt. Pisgah. Then they traveled a hundred miles farther west to the Council Bluffs area by the Missouri River.

They wintered at nearby Council Point, in what is now the southwest edge of Council Bluffs, near the river. According to family records, on December 13, their youngest child Sarah Jane died at a place called Fish Cod Lake, an area which remains unidentified.

The Smiths remained by the Missouri River for the winter of 1846-47. The next spring, Brigham Young led a small pioneer company toward the Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile about 10,000 Mormons, including the Smiths, built up settlements up and down the Missouri River, where the Saints maintained lands for the next four years.

On 6 Apr 1848, the Smiths welcomed their first son John Sivil, Jr., but sadly the little fellow lived but eighteen months. During the Smiths' last year at the Missouri, Eliza Maria was born in mid-winter on 5 February 1850.

In mid-June the Smiths joined the William Snow/Joseph Young Company, the sixth Mormon company of the season heading to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. The company consisted of about 100 wagons but by mutual consent split up into two groups of fifty, the first led by William Snow and the second by Joseph Young. The Smiths apparently traveled in William Snow's fifty and reached the Salt Lake Valley on 3 October 1850.

Like many immigrants, they found old friends, John and Ann Gailey, fellow Herefordshire converts who lived in Salt Lake's Fourth Ward section [Block #22, Lot #1, which was the corner lot of 700 South and Main Street] and stayed through the winter.

About March 1851, John and Jane relocated to the new settlement of South Willow Creek in the south end of the valley. The Smiths were among the first settlers of what soon was called Draperville. John built a crude home within the walls of the Fort consisting of two rooms, a log room and an adobe one, having a dirt floor and a thatched roof. The home would have been located approximately 380 feet east of what is now 900 East on the north side of 12600 South, Draper, Utah.

In this humble home, a son William Charles was born on 6 January 1852, he being credited as the first male child born in what is now Draper. Two additional sons were born in Draper; Joseph Thomas on 27 Jun 1853 and George Michael on 11 Apr 1855. In 1856 John was called to colonize at Fort Limhi (now Fort Lemhi), Idaho in what became known as the Salmon River Misson.

It is unclear if John moved his family to Fort Limhi or how long he remained, but the mission was eventually disbanded in March 1858 after many setbacks stemming from lack of supplies, infighting, problems with Indians including Indian attacks and the approach of U. S. General Albert Sidney Johnston's Army towards Utah territory to put down the "Mormon rebellion."

It was during this same time period (1856/1857) that John purchased 200 acres from Bishop William Kay as well as the adobe and brick home located in "Kays Ward" (now Kaysville) and moved his family there. The home was located on the east side of what is now Angel Street at approx. 546 N. Angel St., Kaysville, Utah. As of 1985, the 200 acres of range land were located on the west side of 2200 West and on both sides of 1000 North in Layton, Utah.

John was a participant in the 1857-1858 "Utah War" serving under officer Philemon Merrill. Whether John rode, marched into active duty or stayed home as part of the reserves is not known. We do know that during this time, John moved his family from Kaysville to Mountainville (now Alpine) after Brigham Young ordered that northern Mormon communities evacuate their towns and move south into Utah County to stay clear of the invading federal army.

After the "Utah War," the Smith family returned to Kaysville. A final child and daughter Harriet Emily was born to John & Jane on 9 Apr 1857 in Kaysville, although some family sources give her birthplace as Draper. Family sources indicate that the Smith home was a hub of activity as it lay on the main road leading north to grazing land in Hooper and many travelers would stop to water their animals in Kay's Creek and stay at the Smith home.

In Kaysville, the Smith family prospered and John was involved in sheep and cattle raising as well as church and community affairs. In addition to assisting his sons get their start in stock-raising, John welcomed and assisted two nephews who immigrated from England in getting their start in the stock-raising business as well.

Those nephews, sons of Samuel Smith (John's older brother), were Abiathar Richard Cidney Smith, William Ralph Smith, and John Matthias Smith. John Sivil Smith assisted materially in the building of the Kaysville and Layton Wards and he donated $500.00 towards the Kaysville Meeting House. He was for many years a counselor to Bishops Allen Taylor and Christopher Layton in the Kaysville Ward.

In June 1897 he was ordained a Patriarch [See paragraph 4]. He was a stockholder in the Barnes Banking Company and the Kaysville Co-op. On two separate occasions he donated $500 to LDS University (now LDS Business College) towards landscaping the grounds and for the establishment of a "theological library." On 29 Apr 1903, the University held a special ceremony honoring the Patriarch for his generous donations.

John and Jane remained in Kaysville until their deaths - Jane on 22 May 1888 and John Sivil on 12 Feb 1905. John's interest for life and active interest in his business persisted until his final illness.

The story of his death has been preserved among many of his descendants. One version comes from a great-grandson through the Stevenson line, Mark Funk. "On the top of his house was a round cupola with windows all the way around and he had land way out round about. He'd go up there and watch his livestock (this is the way mother [Ida Stevenson Funk] told it to me).

He could ride a horse at age ninety-six. One winter he was up there and he looked out the window and he saw a cow that was floundering in a snow drift. So he got on his horse and rode out to pull it out of the snow drift. Well, during that operation, he fell off his horse and he couldn't get up. Nobody knew he was there and he was exposed to the cold [it was February] and got pneumonia. They found him and took him home, but he died shortly thereafter."

Children of John Sivel and Mary Wadley Smith:

Annie, b. Jan. 6, 1839, m. Norman Brown, Dec. 20, 1858;
Mary Wadley, b. Dec 12, 1840. Died: Dec 11, 1841
Ellen Smith b. Feb. 17, 1842, m. John Quincy Knowlton March 17, 1862;
Elizabeth Wadley, b. Oct. 6, 1844;
Sarah Jane, b. Apr 13, 1846. Died: Dec 13, 1849;
John Sivil, Jr., b. Apr 6, 1848. Died: Dec 1849;
Eliza Maria, b. Feb. 5, 1850, m. George Vickers Stevenson March 21, 1867;
William Charles, b. Jan. 1, 1852, m. Mary Eleanor Smith Jan. 18, 1882;
Joseph Thomas, b. June 27, 1853, d. Jul 16, 1895;
George Michael, b. April 11, 1855, m. Mary Ellen Woolley Jan. 13, 1881;
Harriet Emily, b. April 9, 1857, m. Jesse Moroni Smith Feb. 19, 1880.

John Sivel Smith, A Brief History of His Life
Written by a Granddaughter, Mary Smith Steed Porter

John Sivel Smith was born March 10, 1809 at Red Marley, Worcestershire, England, son of William Smith and Mary Sivil. He was the eighth child of a family of eleven. He had seven brothers and three sisters. His father was a farmer and stock raiser.

John was taught to be industrious, learning early the trades of wheelwright and carpenter. Though he had no scholastic privileges, he could figure any practical problem such as measuring land, the number of bushels of grain in a bin, etc., by using what he called the "the rule of three."

Educated people could not compete with him in figuring a problem, for in a matter of seconds, he would come up with the correct answer, even before they could put down the first figures on paper. His wife taught him to write his name. Even without scholastic learning, he was a successful businessman who was honest, thrifty and generous in all dealings.

He met his brother Samuel's lady friend, Jane Wadley, with whom he fell in love. Her affections were for John. Samuel was forgotten. John and Jane were married February 13, 1838 by Thomas A. Hedley, Curate at the parish church in the parish of St. Mary de Lode in the county of Gloucester.

One evening in early spring of 1840 as John was walking home from work, he was passing the home of Benjamin Hill, his brother-in-law, and found the house filled with people and a man preaching to them. John stood by an open window and listened. The man's message appealed to him. He hurried home and told Jane he had just heard the true Gospel of Christ that evening. They soon learned that the man was Elder Wilford Woodruff from America who was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Jane and John had been brought up in the Church of England, but were not satisfied with its teachings and were seriously considering joining a society called, "The United Brethren". They soon became acquainted with Brother Woodruff and were deeply impressed with the reasonableness of his teachings. This gospel was just what they had been praying for. They were baptized the same day, May 17, 1840 at Hill Farm with many of their friends, Benjamin Hill and wife Annie Wadley Hill, Edward Phillips and wife Hannah Simonds, the Gailys, the Greens, the Robins, and others who were their life long friends and neighbors.

Two daughters, Annie and Mary were born to Jane and John. Little Mary died December 11, 1840. The Church of England minister refused to give the baby a burial place in the church yard because she had not been christened in his church and because her parents had joined the "Mormons". The Sexton, being an old friend of John and Jane, took the little baby and unknown to the minister and under cover of darkness, buried her in the churchyard.

John, with his wife and little daughter Annie, left England May 12, 1841 to cast their lot in America with the Latter-Day Saints. They sailed on the ship "Harmony" landing six weeks later in Quebec, Canada. They went by team to Montreal and then crossed over to Kirtland, Ohio, arriving there in July. A daughter, named Ellen, was born February 17, 1842. John obtained employment and purchased a team of horses and wagon. The persecution was so unbearable, he moved his family to Nauvoo, Illinois. While here, two more daughters were born to them--Elizabeth on October 6, 1844 and Sarah Jane came April 6, 1846.

John was present when the Prophet Joseph Smith delivered his last address to the Nauvoo Legion. He was also in attendance at the meeting held August 8, 1844 when the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon Brigham Young. He often testified that Brigham Young was the Lord's chosen prophet.

The latter part of April, the Smith's left Nauvoo to gather with the Saints at Council Bluffs where they remained four years. Again they were called upon to part with their baby girl, Sarah Jane, December 13, 1846. Their first son was born April 6, 1848. They named him John Sivil Jr. Again death struck their home, their little boy died December 1849. The passing of their three babies was a great sorrow to them. In February 1850 their little daughter Eliza was born.

While living in Council Bluffs, John being a wheelwright was kept very busy repairing and building wagons for the Saints preparatory to their crossing the plains. John and his family left Council Bluffs in May 1850 with the William Snow Company, he was well equipped for the journey. A team of mares on a light wagon was provided for his wife and children. A heavy wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen and a yoke of cows was loaded with supplies, furniture and needs of a new country.

Annie and Ellen drove their father's stock on foot most of the way. When they arrived in Salt Lake City, they received a warm welcome from one of their English friends, John Gaily, who had arrived in the valley two years previous. They spent the first winter in the Gaily home. In the early spring of 1851, they settled in Willow Creek, later known as Draper, where John had built a two roomed home. They remained here five years. Their joy was full when three sons were born to them -- William on the 6th of January 1852; Joseph two years later, and George nearly two years after that.

As so many of their English friends had settled in Kaysville, the Smiths were anxious to join them. They had the good fortune of purchasing the William Kay farm, located three miles west of the town of Kaysville. Bishop Kay had received a call to lead the colonization at Carson City, Nevada so was forced to sell his fine home and farm.

In the spring of 1856, John moved his family to their new and permanent home. It was wonderful to again be among so many old friends and converts of Elder Woodruff. Some of them were the families of Edward Phillips, David Day, John Gaily, David Robins, Levi Roberts and others. John added onto the house a south wing, making a comfortable home for his family. He built barns, granary, and substantial out buildings. He worked his farm which yielded abundantly. He raised fine horses and good cattle and sheep. He prospered in all his undertakings. He was generous in contributing to the upbuilding of the Kaysville and Layton Wards and towns. He gave $1,000 towards the building of the Latter-Day Saints University at Salt Lake City.

Their youngest daughter, Harriet Emily, was born April 9, 1857 in their new home. It was in 1858 that Johnston's Army threatened the Saints. John took his family to Alpine, Utah County. They remained there until peace was restored in the late summer.

His daughter Ellen, who was the second wife of John Quincy Knowlton was widowed and left destitute with a family of eight children, seven girls and one boy. He built them a home on a piece of his property a block south of the old home. He cared for their needs and provided means for all to obtain a college education.

He and his family were most hospitable - entertaining authorities of the Church, Officials of State and also their many friends. Many of the brethren when on the "underground" found protection in their home. When they were there, Jane spent most of the daylight hours in their observatory watching for U. S. Deputies and gave warning to the men. It was a trying time for all concerned. John was ever loyal to the Church, the authorities and to his many friends. He always bore a strong testimony to the truthfulness of the Gospel and the Divine mission of Joseph Smith and his successors.

His beloved wife passed away May 2, 1888. This was a great trial and sorrow to him as he had depended always on her support and wise judgment.

He was ordained a Priest soon after his baptism. He and Jane received their endowments in the spring of 1851. He was ordained a Seventy in 1852 and called to preside over the 55th Quorum of Seventies in 1855. He was ordained a High Priest and was chosen second counselor to Bishop Allen Taylor of the Kaysville Ward. A position which he held until the organization of the Davis Stake in 1877 when he was ordained to be a Patriarch by Elder Joseph F. Smith.

He took great pride in having good horses to drive. He drove to Kaysville almost every day in a little buggy drawn by one horse. When he was past ninety years he broke a beautiful three year old bay mare and drove her on his buggy. He never lost interest in his holdings and his stock.

His daughter Elizabeth had not married and was devoted to the care of her parents. She was truly a kind and dutiful daughter to her father. He passed away February 18, 1905, at the advanced age of 96 years. He was alert and active to the last. He was confined to his bed only a short time. His doctor prescribed a little whiskey to improve the action of his heart. This he flatly refused, saying he had promised the Lord years before that he would not touch liquor in any form.

He died peacefully at his home, leaving seven of his eleven children, forty-seven grandchildren and thirty-two great grandchildren to mourn their loss.

John S. Smith was a fine looking man, over six feet tall, stately in his carriage. He had clear blue eyes and when young, dark hair. But as I remember him he had pure white hair and a clear complexion which made him look almost celestial.

Written May, 1957

Obituary: Salt Lake Herald 1905-02-14
Passing of Davis County Pioneer

Obituary: Ogden Standard 1905-02-14
John Sivil Smith is at Rest

Obituary: Davis County Clipper 1905-02-24
John S. Smith Dead

Utah Death Certificate




  • Maintained by: randigenator
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 124619
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Sivil Smith (10 Mar 1809–19 Feb 1905), Find A Grave Memorial no. 124619, citing Kaysville City Cemetery, Kaysville, Davis County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by randigenator (contributor 47656541) .