Nancy <I>Bean</I> Decker


Nancy Bean Decker

Troy, Lincoln County, Missouri, USA
Death 3 Mar 1903 (aged 76)
Parowan, Iron County, Utah, USA
Burial Parowan, Iron County, Utah, USA
Plot 02-18-02
Memorial ID 23093002 View Source
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Daughter of James Bean and Elizabeth Lewis

Married Thomas Jefferson Williams, 4 Sep 1842, West Troy, Lincoln, Missouri

Daughter - Nancy Elizabeth Williams

Married John Doyle Lee, 4 Feb 1844, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois

Daughter - Cornelia Lee

Married Zachariah Bruyn Decker, 6 Mar 1849, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - Harriet Emily Decker, Cornelia Decker, Joseph Oscar Decker, Cornelius Isaac Decker, Zachariah Bruyn Decker, James Bean Decker, Gertrude Decker, Nathaniel Alvin Decker, Mahonri Moriancumer Decker, Sarah Vilate Decker, Emily Harriet Decker, Mary Adella Decker, George William Decker

History - Nancy, aged sixteen, was persuaded to marry Thomas J. Williams, a school teacher that boarded at the home. He seemed to resent Nancy's baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and scoffed at her religious fervor and refused to go to Nauvoo with the Saints. A separation resulted and he was given custody of their little Elizabeth who was taken to Warsaw, Illinois.

Nancy Bean was the daughter of wealthy farmers. She saw John D. Lee on a mission and heard him preach at her father's home. She came to Nauvoo and stayed at John's house and grew in favor.

In 1845 Nancy Bean married John D. Lee and later was sealed to him on January 14, 1846. Brigham Young performed the sealing with Heber C. Kimball and Jedediah Morgan Grant as witnesses. On January 15, 1846 Nancy gave birth to their daughter, Eliza Lee, later named Cornelia. Nancy and her three-week-old baby were among the first to be taken across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo when the mobs came. For a while Nancy alternated living with Lee and her parents in Winter Quarters.

There was sickness and deaths in the Bean family. "Nancy, the eldest, was the only one well enough to wait on them. She had parts of three families in her cabin. There was ten families being under one captain. Nancy and babe were named as part of the Bean family under command of Captain Daniel Miller.

Tension mounted, especially with Nancy Bean. Nancy often as helped to plant and weed the garden, going berrying with the group, visiting Winter Quarters, or getting turnip seeds, as though she were cooperating to the fullest in all activities.

Nancy and her little Eliza (later named Cornelia) came west with her parents and arrived in the Valley on September 4, 1848. She had obtained a writing of releasement from John D. Lee.

The Bean family settled in Pioneer Square or the old fort in Great Salt Lake City. A little later they moved to Mill Creek just south of the city. It was here Nancy met Zachariah Bruyn Decker upon his return from the Mormon Battalion expedition to California and married him. They build a one-room adobe cabin in Salt Lake City where they lived for about a year. They then moved back to Mill Creek and soon after, Zachariah Decker was called by Brigham Young to help colonize Iron County in southern Utah. He left his wife and Cornelia together with a newly-born son at Provo with the Beans while he went to Iron County in 1850 and helped to found the city of Parowan. The following spring he sent a man with a team back to Provo to bring his family. The family was reunited in the new settlement there in the spring of 1851. Zachariah B. Decker was a farmer and constable of Parowan. Nancy Bean bore him eleven children.

Arlington Peter Mortensen, Nancy's grandson who knew her when he was a child in Parowan, recalls: "My grandfather, Zachariah Bruyn Decker, was born June 22, 1817 in Shawaugunk, Ulster County, New York. He spent some time washing gold at Sutter's Mill, California after his discharge from the Mormon Battalion. He returned to Salt Lake where he and Nancy Bean were married October 4, 1849. My mother Cornelia was now old enough to realize what was going on. Cornelia left us a vivid picture of the grasshopper war, of the missions of black crickets that came from every direction. In 1849 James Bean was called to take his family and go as one of the original pioneers in the settlement of Utah County, now Provo, followed a few weeks later by Zachariah and Nancy Decker and their small family. The first camp of the company was on the bank of the Provo River and just east of the present Lake View Road leading to the Geneva Steel Mills."

From the History of Iron County Mission and Parowan, we read: "Nancy Bean Decker was one of the pillars of strength in the pioneer colony, Parowan, where her skill as a tailor helped many a man to be the proud owner of a homespun suit of clothes. She was an expert weaver, making many beautiful coverlids (bed spreads) in intricate designs. She made many fine serviceable straw hats for the men folks that were really appreciated in the days when there were no clothing stores to turn to. She was a beautiful sewer and always willing to impart of her knowledge and skills to others. She was an excellent cook and very resourceful in every way. Even in the lean years when the grasshoppers took most of the crops, she managed to feed her large family so they never went hungry.

"She was not only a wonderful mother, but she was a ministering angel in many homes where her services were greatly appreciated, and many there were who called her blessed."


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  • Created by: SMSmith
  • Added: 25 Nov 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 23093002
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Nancy Bean Decker (14 Nov 1826–3 Mar 1903), Find a Grave Memorial ID 23093002, citing Parowan City Cemetery, Parowan, Iron County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .