James Sawyer Holman was born in Templeton, Worcester Co. Mass., September 17, 1805 to Jonathan Holman Jr. and Zilpha Sawyer. His early life was spent on his father's farm. When he was thirteen years old his mother died, causing a great trial to him. Later his father married again but no children were born in this union. In his young manhood he went to New York where he continued his farm work. Here he met Naomi Roxania Le Baron, the daughter of David LeBaron and Azuba King. She was born on the 7th of October, 1816, in LeRoy, Genessee County, New York. They were married March 24, 1833. Their oldest child, Harriet Naomi, was born on the 28th of January 1834 in Stafford, Genessee Co., New York.
The young couple joined the church soon after its organization, being baptized the 22nd of September 1834. He received his patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith Sr. in February of 1835, in Kirkland Ohio. It says, "Bro. James in the name of Jesus, I lay my hands upon your head and by the authority of the Holy Priesthood, I seal blessings upon you, even the blessings of a father and a Patriarch, blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, blessing of temporal and spiritual. Thou art a descendent of Abraham, an Israelite, perhaps of Ephraim, but I do not say this. The Lord had laid his eyes on thee; and watched over thee for good and He has a work for thee to do. You will be called in due time to the ministry and the Priesthood with the power thereof. No powers shall be able to take away thy life if thou forsake all evil; and cleave unto that which is good. Thy tongue shall be loosed and able to speak like an angel, and proclaim the Gospel with great power-thy mind expands like Enoch, to comprehend all things, to see the wisdom of God. Confound the wisdom of the wise; bring up children in righteousness and teach them the things of the kingdom, and obtain blessings for them and their children that they may receive an inheritance with their brethren. Thou shalt have power to save thy relatives, bring thousands to the truth and lead them to Zion. Stand upon the earth till the end. See heaven and the Son on Man descend with power and great glory, rise with thy bend, meet Him, and then shalt thou receive all the fullness of the Celestial glory, and they with thee. This is thy blessing and if thou art faithful, I seal it upon thee in the name of Jesus. Amen."
They moved to Beaver, Crawford, Pa. in 1835 where their second child, James Alonzo was born on September 1st, 1835. James and Naomi moved to Kirkland in 1837-1838. On May 14th 1837, James was ordained a member of the third quorum of Seventies. Sarah Melissa was born on November 18, 1838.
In 1838 he was called to go to northern Missouri with the Kirkland camp. They had three children at this point. Here the family learned by actual experience of the trials and persecutions of the saints and of their mobbing and drivings. Their home was three miles from the Carthage jail where the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were so cruelly murdered. They owned six lots in Nauvoo and belonged to the Nauvoo 4th ward, the same ward the prophet belonged to. Their fourth child, Zilpah, was born on February 16, 1840, but passed away the following October. Susan Adaline was born the following year, October 7, 1841. Sanford was born just before the martyrdom of the prophet, June 18, 1844. Silas was born October 7, 1846. When persecution became so bitter, they could endure it no longer, they gathered together their little family and what they could take with them and bidding farewell to home and city and the comforts they had been able to accumulate in those few years, they moved on with the saints to start a new home.
The call came to go west and James Sawyer started with the pioneers in the Franklin D. Richards Company. When they reached Mt. Pisgah, James was called by President Brigham Young to drive the sheep the saints had, across the plains. He must go on, leaving his wife and six children, the youngest a babe, only a few months old, behind until the following year.
James S. reached the Salt Lake valley with the sheep in September of 1847. James S. then remained in the valley until the spring of 1848 and then returned to help James Alonzo, his oldest son, who had started out across the plains with his mother and the other children. They traveled with the Charles C. Rich Company for the trek. They arrived in the valley together, between the 20th and 24th of September in 1848. They moved into the Old Fort where they remained during the winter. In the spring of 1849 they moved out north of the city and started to build a new home in Bountiful.
They planted and cultivated their crops and when everything began to look well, on came the crickets. You know the story, how they fought those crickets from daylight till dark, men, women, and children, until it looked as if they would lose everything. Then that Divine Providence that had guarded their destinies thus far, sent the Sea Gulls to devour the crickets, which they did.
During the fall of 1849, we learn from "My life's Review" of Benjamin Franklin Johnson, that James S. moved back to Salt Lake and took up interests with Benjamin F. Johnson. Benjamin owned a saddlery business and a drug store. Harriet Naomi, daughter of James S. and niece of Benjamin's first wife, was sealed to Benjamin on March 17th, 1850. James built a house on Benjamin's city lot in the 16th ward. On the 14th of May, 1850, Emma Jane was born. It was during the 1849-1850 winter that George A. Smith called Benjamin to make a settlement at what was then called Little Salt Lake. This didn't happen until 1851 but it played a part in what James S. decided to do. James S. and Benjamin farmed during the summer of 1850, planting a large apple garden.
In the spring of 1851, President Young invited Benjamin on an exploring party. The second night out they camped at Summit Creek (Santaquin). It was a beautiful spot. Brigham Young asked Benjamin if he'd like to settle a colony there and Benjamin said "yes". During the fall of 1851, before cold weather came, James S. went with Benjamin to colonize Santaquin. They built houses there and also sent hands to Salt Creek (Nephi) to build a house. George W. Johnson, brother of Benjamin, went with them; George W. later colonized Fountain Green in 1859.
During this first winter, they spent much of their time preparing for spring crops. It was during this time that David Ellis was born, December 30, 1852. Wheat and other crops were planted in the spring of 1852. When Benjamin was called on a mission to the Sandwich Islands in October of 1852, James S. was called to be Bishop of Santaquin at the suggestion of Benjamin on October 4, 1852. He was also asked to see after Benjamin's family and property while Benjamin was away. Previous to his call, Benjamin had asked James S. for another daughter as his wife, Sarah Melissa, a younger sister of Harriet. She cheerfully accepted but realized it might be years before he returned so she changed her mind. She was beautiful and witty and perhaps, loved too much by Benjamin.
Summit Creek was created May 21, 1853 by the county court. During the summer of 1853 the Indians attacked Summit Creek (Santaquin), killed some of the brethren, wounded others, and compelled the remainder to flee to Payson. All was lost in Santaquin. Locusts destroyed the wheat crop in Payson in the fall of 1854 and again in the spring of 1855. In June of 1855 James S. joined with Benjamin, who had just returned from his mission, and his family in resettling Summit Creek, which they began calling Santaquin. Benjamin was the President of the Santaquin Branch and James S. the Bishop. Benjamin presided over the ward and James S. worked with the tithing only. James Alonzo, their oldest son, was married to Sarah Ann Mathis in Nov of 1855.
On February 3, 1856, President Brigham Young married Benjamin F. Johnson to Sarah Melissa Holman. The year of 1857 proved to be a season of great scarcity for bread. They had milk, gathered greens, and dug roots. The wheat had to be pulled up by the roots or cut with a knife. It was during this time that Benjamin F. had a dream in which he was to marry Susan Holman. He soon won her over and they were married, this being the third daughter of Bishop Holman whom he married.
During the winter of 1857, James S. assisted Benjamin in fitting out Reece Lewellyn, who arrived by handcart in Salt Lake in 1856, upon Ranger, a fine horse, for Echo canyon where our troops were fortified against the U. S. Army. The army was at Fort Bridger and our men in Echo Canyon. The First Presidency deemed it necessary to evacuate Salt Lake City and every settlement north of Provo, and all prepared for the general move, which began in April and continued until every city was abandoned and prepared for burning. Such was the condition and feeling of the people when Governor Cumming, the Governor of the Territory, arrived in advance of the army in Salt Lake City, to find it desolate. He was followed by the U.S. Army, which marched through the city without halting, and established "Camp Floyd" in Cedar Valley. The people returned to their homes by the 1st of July.
Three children were born while James S. and Naomi lived in Santaquin, David, Charles, and Lydia, all of them died as babies. Privations and hardships played their part. The death of their babies was a great sorrow to the family. They had three children living with them at this time, Sanford, Silas, and Emma; Zilpha, their third child, died in Kirtland; James A. was married and the three older daughters, Harriet, Sarah, and Susan were married to Benjamin F. Johnson.
In March of 1859, George W. Johnson, brother of Benjamin, was called from his home in Santaquin to start a colony at Uinta Springs (Ftn. Green).
He and his son Amos P. Johnson made a trip to Uinta Springs to see the area. The land was surveyed and a city plat was made in July of 1859. The new colony was christened "Fountain Green" because of the water running from a spring in the mountain and spreading over the beautiful grass meadow below. Indians stole their horses while they were surveying the land so they walked back to Santaquin.
James S. and family, along with Reese R. Lewellyn were among the first settlers to help George W. Johnson build a colony. James S. and Naomi had their last child in Fountain Green, Isaac Lester Holman, who was born December 21, 1859. He was the first baby born in Ftn. Green. Their cabin, the second built in Ftn. Green, still stands.
A few years later they moved to Holden, Millard Co. Utah, where James S. died on the 21st of June 1873. He was not an old man, being only 68, but the hardships he had endured made him look old and worn out. He died suddenly having worked in the garden during the morning. At noon he complained of not feeling well and laid down to rest. He passed away during the afternoon.
Naomi Roxania LeBaron Holman
1816–1881 (m. 1833)