John Workman

John Workman

Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland, USA
Death 23 Apr 1855 (aged 65)
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Plot C_4_4__
Memorial ID 25313591 · View Source
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Son of Jacob Workman and Elizabeth Wickoff

Married Lydia Bilyeu, 11 Mar 1809, Overton County, Tennessee

Children: David Workman, Oliver Gaultry Workman, Hannah Workman, Mary Ann (Polly) Workman, Lydia Workman, Benjamin Workman, Solomon R. Workman, Louisa DeAnbre Workman, Jacob Lindsay Workman, Hyrum Smith Workman, Andrew Jackson Workman, Peter Workman, Joseph Workman, Stephen S. Workman, Samuel P. Workman, Abram Smith Workman, Elizabeth Workman, John Butler Workman, Cornelius C. Workman, Richard Workman

John Workman was the first of the Workman to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was born in Allegheny County, Maryland. His father Jacob Workman, two uncles Andrew and Isaac, were given military lots in Allegheny County, Maryland. In 1887 in remuneration for services rendered to the government during the Revolutionary War.

John was the sixth child in the family of twelve children, there being ten brothers and one sister. Just how or where he gained his education, we do not know, but he was a scholar of mathematics, a beautiful penman and well informed in topics of the day, and a profound student on the Bible. He classified the Bible scriptures into subjects making an excellent reference book for proving any point of doctrine.

The most prized possession of the family was a small compendium he used to carry in his breast pocket, written in italics with his own pen, very plain and legible.

There were four tracks of land in Allegheny County patented under Workman titles. The Workman Fortune, and Workman Sugar Camp were owned by John Workman's father, Jacob Workman. Workman's farm was owned by Jacob Workman's brother Isaac Workman, and Workman Desire was owned by John Workman. But John Workman was not satisfied in Maryland. When he was 19 he went to Kentucky where his Uncle George and other members of his family had emigrated from Pennsylvania. It is a cherished story by the Workman family that Robert Cushman, who made it possible for the Pilgrim Fathers to immigrate to America, was Robert Workman before the King of England dubbed him a knight and changed his name to Cushman. Robert and two brothers had passage to America on the Mayflower, but when the Speedwell was counted unseaworthy, and some of the company had to return to England and wait until another ship could be had to carry them across the water. It was decided by Cushman, Carver, and Bradford, that it was better for Cushman to go back as he would have more influence with the King in securing another ship. So Robert Cushman and his brothers went back to England and let passengers from the Speedwell take their place on the Mayflower.

Robert Cushman came over a year later on the Fortune, but had to go back to England in the interest of the colonies. He left his only son with Governor Bradford until his return saying, "I want this to be my last trip. I want to spend the rest of my days in this fair land of freedom, where I can worship God as I feel and lay down my bones in this fair land." But he sickened and died while in England. His son Robert is the progenitor of the Cushman family in America.

This Cushman story has been told to me by different members of the family in different States of the Union which testifies of its authenticity. However, when the brothers began to hold land in America, they took back their true name Workman.

Jacob Workman, father of John was a sharp shooter in the Revolutionary war. He was a daring hunter in the savage mountains of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. He had many hunting matches with men of skill, but he always came out first. His children have all handed down the stories to their descendants, of how he used to take his sons with him on some of his hunts to teach them the art of hunting. The boys brought up the rear of the tramp, always on the alert for the appearance of game, or a signal from their father. If he shook his hand quivering in the air they knew that by his superior skill he had detected the appearance of game, when to them there had been no audible sign. But the crouched or hunched down in their tracks immediately, scarcely daring to breath, yet trying to keep a watch on their father as he stealthy located the game and took aim. At the crack of the gun, all the boys jumped and looked. Many times a big buck deer lunged into the air then floundered to the ground as they were by its side. Jacob was an exceptionally good marksman, who seldom, if ever missed his aim.

Jacob was born about 1738 in New Jersey, the son of Abram Workman, son of Andrew Workman, who was, no doubt, the son of Anthoney P. alias William P. Workman of the Island of Kent.

Anthony P. Workman and his wife Elizabeth came to America on the "Frances and Mary", in 1668, under the command of John England, of the town of Bristol. They were each given 50 acres of land on the Island of Kent, for services given on the boat. Mr. Henry Williams, who came on the same boat, was given 50 acres adjoining their land. This made the Workman's owners of 150 acres of rich and fertile land on the Island of Kent. From the crop on this land, which was principally tobacco, they were soon well to do. They were able to buy other lands and property. This is the same Anthony P. Workman gave two lots and 150 lbs of sterling for the erecting of the St. Johns College at the foot of State House Hill in Annapolis, Maryland. (Recorded in the Journal of Governors and Council and House of Delegates).

Anthony's wife, Elizabeth died in 1677 or 8. A few months later he married Mrs. John Dunn, a neighbor and widow of Capt. Robert Dunn, with four living children. At this time his son Andrew and possibly his son William left home to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Andrew went to New Jersey where he married and raised a family. Whether William P. Workman, who settled in Cable C., Maryland, is a brother or son of Andrew Workman is not definitely proven. I am inclined to believe they were brothers, and he was named for his father William P. Workman. After John died Anthony married his daughter Susanna, who also preceded him in death. Anthony P. Workman lost track of his boys and died alone in Annapolis, Maryland. He chose his own pallbearers and left each a gold ring. Below in the inventory of his estate, this exceeded $175,000,000 and was written "no creditors and no relation".

In about 1770 or 72 Jacob Workman married Elizabeth Wyckoff. She bore him one son Abraham, in New Jersey about 1779. After the moved to Allegheny County, Maryland, this union was blessed with eleven more children, namely: Isaac, Benjamin, Jacob, Mary, John, Samuel, James, William Stephen, Michael and David. About 1812, Jacob sold all his holdings in Allegheny County, Maryland and moved with his family to Bourbon County, Kentucky. Here he soon became well to do in both land and property. In his later years a severe affliction, the shaking palsy, caused him much suffering and misery. He died on his home farm surrounded by his family and a host of friends. He was buried in his own cemetery on the banks of a beautiful river. It is recorded in the Bourbon County records that the funeral of Jacob Workman was the largest ever held in Bourbon County up to that time.

John Workman left Maryland in 1808 and went to Kentucky and from there to Overton County, Tennessee, where he met and married Lydia Bilyeu. She was born 18th of August 1793, in Kentucky. Their first three children, Richard who died at the age of three years, Jacob L. and Elizabeth, were born in Overton County, Tennessee.

In 1814, John and his family moved to Kentucky and bought land in Nicholas County, just ten miles north of where his father has settled in Bourbon County, two years earlier. By industry and economy, the Workman's soon found themselves in good circumstances, both in land and money. John built a fine home in Carlisle, Nicholas County, Kentucky where six more children were born to them: John B., Samuel, Lydia, Hannah, Abram S., Andrew J., and Cornelius C.

The Workman's were very sincere in their religious beliefs. They belonged to the Tunker's, or German Baptist Church. John had studied the Bible and classified its scriptures into subjects, and had a very comprehensive understanding of the teachings of Christ. He tried to show the members the better understanding of the scriptures; this led to arguments and contentions among them. John was sure they were not interpreting the scriptures correctly. This brought hatred and envy of the members of the church upon him and his family, causing them much trouble, hardships and suffering, from the evil thrusts of members and others. For this reason John left Carlisle and went back to Overton County, Tennessee. Because of the bitterness in the community toward them over religious disputes, it was impossible for John to sell his fine holdings in Carlisle so he abandoned them. When I was in Carlisle, Kentucky in 1932, I found that four of the best city lots in the center of Carlisle were deeded to John Workman. The only certificate of title the present occupants had was, based on, "long continued uninterrupted possession." These holders were very much afraid that I was going to start action against them.

Back in Tennessee again John brought much land and had slaves to work it. He laid his farm out in sections for the different kinds of crops. He had his own grist mill, grocery store, flocks, herds and etc. He attended church but could not take under their interpretation of the scriptures. So in due time, he quit the church all together. Then he carried on a distillery of whiskey and brandy, and got to drinking moderately himself.

The children born to this union after they returned to Overton County, Tennessee was Oliver Gaultry, Polly Ann, Stephen, Peter, Solomen, Joseph, Louise, David who died in infancy, Benjamin and Hyrum Smith. 22 children born to this family.

In 1839, two Mormon Elders came to Overton County, Tennessee. They had a hard time to find lodgings. They came to the home of John Workman, as John had never turned a traveler away without food and rest, these Elders found a welcome in his home. The message they brought struck a familiar cord in the heart of John Workman. He brought out the compendium he had made and found his classification of scriptural passages to be similar to what he had tried to convey to the members of the local church and also those at Carlisle, Kentucky, for which they had cast him out and abused him and his family.

John rejoiced in these glorious truths and lost no time in preparing himself and family for baptism. Surely, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10: 27, 28 verses were verified in this instance.

The other members of the church there and also those at Carlisle, Kentucky may well be classified with those Jews who asked Jesus, "If thou be the Christ tell us plainly." Jesus answered saying: "I told you and you believed not, the works that I do in my Father's name." John 10: 25, 26.

On the 22 of July 1840, John and his wife Lydia and several of his children were baptized by Abram Owen Smoot and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 30 July 1840 under the hands of Julian Moses and Abram O. Smoot. This step increased the hatred and persecution of the local church and community against this family. In 1843 John abandoned his vast holdings in Tennessee and emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he could associate with those who had the same religious connections that he cherished. Here he bought a farm four miles west of Nauvoo, where he lived most of the time. Two of his sons lived in the City of Nauvoo.

In the summer of 1845, John had harvested a good crop of wheat and had threshed part of it. On day in the early evening he saw some of the farm home of other of the Saints in Flames. One after another moving in his direction, he knew at once that it was the work of mobs, whose fury had raged unabated since the Nauvoo Charter, had been repealed. He had a wagon in the yard with boards across the running gears. He put what he could of the wheat on this wagon and his family on top of the wheat, and drove to Nauvoo for protection. The severe persecutions that the saints suffered at this time proved too much for John's wife Lydia. She succumbed to the trials and died 30 Sept. 1845, and was buried in the Nauvoo cemetery.

John passed through the trails and vicissitudes incident to the expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo. This was the third time in his life that John had abandoned his earthly possessions for his religious convictions. He remained in the city of Nauvoo until late spring of 1846, when he was driven into the wilderness with the saints. He joined his son Jacob L. at Mount Pisgah, where he had a temporary cabin. John remained there until 1852, when he immigrated to the Salt Lake Valley. Here he lived with his children part of the time and part time in his own home built for him by his son Jacob L.

John Workman was now 62 years of age, but he labored with his own hands for a living. This labor was transcribing patriarchal blessings and family records in a very plain and legible hand so they were easily read and would not be mistaken. He rejoiced exceedingly in the teachings of the Gospel and the privileges of holding the priesthood. He also made a genealogical record of the Workman family. He made three copies of this record. One copy he sent to his brother William in Loami, Illinois, another copy he sent to his brother Michael who inherited his father's home farm in Kentucky, and the third copy he kept.

Jacob L. Workman, writing about his father's death, said: "He continued his labor of transcribing blessings and family records until the spring of 1855, when his health became very poor his affliction increased upon him in spite of our faith and prayers and all we could do. On the 14th of April, I could see that his days were numbered. I asked him if he wanted to die. He said that he would rather live, but it was the Lord's will, he was ready. We had frequent talks upon the Gospel of Salvation. He remained in his rational mind until the evening of April 20th when he went to sleep, but still continuing to breath, until 20 minutes to 5:00 AM. April 21, 1855, he passed away surrounded by his family and friends. He was laid to rest in his temple robes on lot C-44, Salt Lake City cemetery," the lot Jacob L. drew for his own use.

Sixty years later I began to gather and compile data for a Workman family history. The first thing necessary seemed to be to hunt down a copy of the history written by John Workman. The one he had kept had been taken by his youngest son, Hyrum Smith Workman, who was unmarried at the time and lived with his father. Some years after his father's death, Hyrum gave this history to a Negro attorney that he might recover some of the property, especially the real-estate abandoned by his father in Tennessee. I went to this attorney's office in Ogden, Utah and hunted and searched through trunks, suitcases and boxes to no avail. He remembered it well and declared he had never lost anything, so it must be there. He gave some description of it as did others who had seen it, but we were forced to give up the search and count it lost. I turned my footsteps to Loami, Illinois. Mrs. William Workman Jr., daughter-in-law to William Workman, brother of John Workman was still living. She remembered the book vividly, and gave the same description others had given. She said, "It was 6 or 8 inches wide, 12 inches long and 2 ½ inches thick, with a yellow leather back beautifully written in italics with his own pen. You could read it just as easily as you could read print." Then she told this story: "In William Jr's. last sickness we were all around his bed. He was conscious to his last breath. We knew that he had the Workman family history after his father's death, but no one had thought of it for perhaps years. My husband had no more than closed his eyes in death, when our son William Franklin turned to me in excitement and asked, "Where is that Workman family history that John sent to his grandfather?" If he had thought of it a few minutes sooner and asked his father he no doubt could have told him what had become of it. But I did not know. He hunted cellar to garret. Every little while he would snap his fingers and stamp his foot saying, "I would give a thousand dollars if I could find that history." But he never did.

In Huntington, West Virginia, I found some descendants of Michael Workman. They told me that the one sent to Michael was handed down through a daughter until it was out of the Workman family. A lady of the third generation had it. She married a wealthy man and lives in Paris France, where they understood the history is reclining in a bank vault.

When I asked for an address, they said the last they heard she and her daughter were making a trip around the world and met an accident in Vancouver, Washington. The daughter was thought to be permanently paralyzed and they did not know where to locate them, but if they ever did get in touch with them again they would send me word.

Thus the family history that John labored so diligently to leave with the world has vanished without reaching hands of those would have preserved it.

Zerma Ann Davis Herbert copied this history while at the D. U. P. Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah


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  • Maintained by: SRBentz
  • Originally Created by: Schott Family
  • Added: 16 Mar 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 25313591
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Workman (8 Oct 1789–23 Apr 1855), Find A Grave Memorial no. 25313591, citing Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SRBentz (contributor 47051679) .