Recently I came upon the records of my fourth great grandfather, David Lewis. To be honest in all my searching of family records, I never once have paused at David's name. What I found both strengthened my faith and made me question it as well.
According to these records David was at the Hauns' Mill Massacre. David was one of four men who escaped the massacre with his life. although his clothing had several holes in them. He cared his brother Benjamin to safety nearby where later Benjamin died. David's wife Duritha Trail was nearby when the massacre occurred and knelt in fervent prayer for the David's safety. In the days that followed, David was later taken prisoner.
It is what I discovered next that nearly took my breath away. David was born in Kentucky on April 10, 1814. He married Duritha on November 23, 1813. He was 22 years old. Duritha and David were baptized by James Emmit in March 1835. The two soon left to join Kentucky to join the saints in Missouri
David was raised on four hundred acres of Kentucky's finest blud grass complet with Mulberry trees, and a fruit orchard- peaches, plums, cherries, persimons, and walnuts were readily at David's disposal. They raised corn, wheat, oats, and tobacco. David recalls working very hard to cultivate the land, care for the stock. At 12 years David worked with his mother doing house chores and returned to farm the land at 15.
David and Duritha lived in Nauvoo for five years and experienced much persecution at this time with the other saints. David was standing guard at the north east corner of the Nauvoo temple when he received news of the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum.
I dug a little deeper and I found the unexpected. When David left to serve his mission in 1840 , Duritha returned to Kentucky to live with Duritha's parents. When David returned in 1841 the couple left Kentucky for the final time with "good traveling outfits, 3 negro slaves- 2 women and a man, (Tampian and Carolina Hoye, and Jerry) clothes, money, and food supplies all given to them by Duritha's father." It is believed Duritha's father died and the slaves and other goods were her inheritance.
My fourth great grandfather, David Lewis, was a slaveowner, and brought those slaves with him to Utah. The family arrived in Salt Lake in 1850. The women slaves ( were sold to Reed Smoots. Duritha purchased 10 acres and small house with that money.
David took three more women as wives. I descend from his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Carson. Duritha remained in the Salt Lake valley with her children while David headed south to help colonize the Parowan area. The slave Jerry remained with Duritha to help her with the farm and the children. He never married, but remained loyal to the Lewis family. It is rumored that at one time the prophet Brigham Young heard Duritha wanted to sale Jerry and offered to buy him and set him free.
Jerry Drowned near a river. He has no next of kin listed. He is buried in a pauper's grave.
I am afraid that I have found that not all family folklore is something of which to be proud. And this story leaves me with more questions than answers.
I will continue searching... searching for peace for Jerry