Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Percy Harold Rex, September 30, 1889

While standing in the train line with two grandsons at the zoo this morning I was reminded that today is September 30th, my Grandfather [Percy Harold] Rex’s birthday. I remember well how important it was to my mother, Helen Rex Frazier, for our family to gather on September 30 to celebrate or commemorate Grandpa Rex’s Birthday. In recent years I haven’t remembered, this year is different.

In remembrance of Grandpa Rex, today I’m posting one of two letters he wrote to his descendants. Look for the other one next week.
Percy Harold Rex
[September 30, 1889 –March 20, 1977]

Randolph, Utah
May 22, 1967
My Dear Descendants,

I am in my 78 year enjoying good health for this time in life. Have seen many of the important inventions up to this time. Of late I have been helping Thornock Bros. with their farm work as help is not too plentiful with war on in Viet Nam. What a difference now and when I was large enough to help with Farm. A team of horses with handplow we had hold the plow up stra [illegible] work and drive the team all at once. Now we have tractors to pull the plows from 1 – to 3 or more at a great speed of 5 or 6 or 8 miles per hour.

I am enclosing one of Jeff’s letters as he is on a mission in South America. Ilene Andrus leaves shortly on a mission to Chile in S. A. I have been greatly blessed in my life thus far. Have a family any could be proud of 25 grandchildren to Great Great Grandsons of John Rex living in New York, 3 girls and their families in Utah, Maeser in Calif., Harold in Bogota, Columbia S.A. Aunt Mary and I are in the home we have had since June of 1920. I am enclosing a section of the Church [News} which may be of interest to some of you & will God Bless all of you through your lives.

I will be gone when you receive this letter in 25 years. Which one of you gets [it] will you please make the contents known to the rest of the family.

Good Bye for now.

God Bless and Protect all of you.
Your Grandfather,
Percy H. Rex

Monday, September 26, 2011

Groesbeck troubles in Springfield, Illinois. 1855-56.

Picture of Abraham Lincoln from Elizabeth Groesbeck's granddaughter Bessie Morgan Rex's scrapbook.

Following the Groesbecks’ conversion and rebaptism they had their challenges leaving Springfield, Illinois for the Salt Lake Valley.

In the fall of 1855 Nicholas Groesbeck, with his sons (Nicholas Harmon-13 yrs old, William-8 yrs old), and his brother Cornelius Groesbeck, partnered in cutting hay on the prairie. They would stay there a week at a time, mowing and raking and hauling the hay. Nicholas would sell the hay in the city and arrange for delivery by his son, Nicholas Harmon.

L-R; Nicholas Harmon, William, and John Groesbeck

On one occasion Elizabeth permitted her six-year-old John to go with his older brothers to the fields. As John set a fire for their lunch (they were going to cook beefsteak) a terrific gust of wind blew the fire into the dry grass and it spread faster than the boys could run and beat it down. The fire spread across a field, though they “worked like Trojans” to put it out, it set fire to large stacks of wheat and oats, containing eleven hundred bushels of grain belonging to a Mr. McGinnes who demanded $1100.00 as payment from Nicholas. Nicholas refused to pay, explaining it was an accident, and he was not responsible. Ten days later Mr. McGinnes brought suit against Nicholas and Cornelius and Nicholas Harmon. A trial was held in October, 1855 before a jury. Nicholas Groesbeck was cleared and a verdict of $3000.00 was rendered against Cornelius and Harmon Groesbeck.

It was known that the Nicholas Groesbeck family was leaving Springfield in the spring. Nicholas had sold his home and other holdings, purchased cattle, horses, wagons and a carriage. He was moving his family to Salt Lake. McGinnes’ attorney had the Marshal arrest Nicholas Harmon and put him in jail, for the law permitted imprisonment until the debt was paid. Nicholas acquired the services of his friend and attorney, Abraham Lincoln.

Working off the debt at $1.50 for every day that Harmon was confined, would have taken about five years to liquidate. And his board bill would have been paid by Mr. McGinnes. The fourth day of his confinement his Uncle Cornelius was imprisoned. But when Mr. McGinnes realized he would have to pay Cornelius’ board costs, and that of his family as well, Cornelius was released.

Nicholas Harmon wrote in his autobiography , “…leaving me there alone to work out the bill.

“It was here that I first got my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, having asked the Father in humble prayer in my cell in prison to show me how I should be liberated from that place. I did this in humble simplicity, having faith that the Lord would hear my prayer which he did, showing me that through a compromise between my father and Mr. McGinnes that I would be liberated shortly. When I told mother this she said father would never compromise for it was an unjust debt and that I would have to stay until I had worked it out. I told her that such would not be the case, that father would compromise for the Lord had shown me in a dream that it would be so. After I had been there nearly three weeks, father and Abraham Lincoln came one Sunday afternoon and told me that they did expect to make a compromise with Mr. McGinnes for about $300.00 which would liberate me and liquidate the entire indebtedness, thereby setting Uncle Cornelius as well as myself free of all incumbrances [sic] of that unfortunate fire. The next morning I was liberated.”

On June 3, 1856 their family started on their journey to Utah.

Nicholas Harmon Groesbeck’s August 1916 autobiography, Pamphlet Nicholas Groesbeck, by Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan, not dated, Pamphlet Our Groesbeck Ancestors in America, compiled and published by Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan, Sr., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1963.

Friday, September 16, 2011

April 6, 1841, Elizabeth Thompson Groesbecks' baptism in Nauvoo.

Earlier Elizabeth Groesbeck posts are here and here.
Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck’s 1883 obituary (bottom of this post) states she was baptized by William Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois on April 6, 1841, two weeks following her marriage to Nicholas Groesbeck in Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois on March 24, 1841.

April 6, 1841. --"The first day of the twelfth year of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! At an early hour the several companies comprising the 'Nauvoo Legion,' with two volunteer companies from Iowa Territory, making sixteen companies in all, assembled at their several places of rendezvous, and were conducted in due order to the ground assigned for general review. The appearance, order and movements of the Legion, were chaste, grand and imposing, and reflected great credit upon the taste, skill and tact of the men comprising said legion." [1]

Joseph Smith later led the legion, accompanied by “ladies” and “gentlemen” walking eight abreast, to the temple block, for impressive ceremonies; four cornerstones were laid for the Nauvoo Temple, hymns were sung, Joseph Smith and others addressed the group. Approximately 10,000 persons attended the services. “The assembly then separated with cheerful hearts.” [2] It is presumed that Nicholas and Elizabeth Groesbeck were among the people in Nauvoo that day, because that is the day and place it is reported Elizabeth was baptized.

Fast forward a lifetime to son-in-law John Hamilton Morgan's journal for December 28, 1883. [John Morgan and family had been keeping vigil at Nicholas and Elizabeth Groesbeck's home for weeks.] Came down home early and had breakfast, afterwards laid down and had a sleep. About 10:30 went to sister Groesbecks and found her dying, lying in an unconscious state. She lived only 20 to 25 minutes after I arrived, passing away quietly and peacefully as a tired child going to sleep. Thus died one of my best friends and one of God’s noblest women. After her death I wrote an obituary and had it inserted in the “Des. News.” … [3]

Born August 16, 1820-[written in ink on top of obituary]

Death of Sister Groesbeck--Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck , the beloved wife of Nicholas Groesbeck, departed this life December 28th, 1883, aged 63 years, 4 months and 12 days. She was baptized in to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 6th day of April, 1841, by Elder William Smith, at Nauvoo; emigrated to the gathering place of the Saints in the year 1856. She leaves a husband and eight children—six sons and two daughters—to mourn her loss, all of whom were present at her death, except one daughter, Sister Josephine Smith, who is with her husband on a mission to Europe.

She died in full faith of the Gospel, and in anticipation of coming forth in the morning of the first resurrection, and with her latest breath urging upon her children to keep the faith, and live lives worthy of Latter-day Saints.

She has passed away a mother in Israel, whose hand was ever open to bless and succor the needy, whose heart was singularly free from guile, and whose memory will ever be held in sacred remembrance by her devoted husband and loving children.

Funeral services at the Seventeenth Ward Meeting house at 11 a.m., Sunday, December 30th. Friends of the family are invited to attend.

Dec. 28, 1883 [written in ink on bottom)

1. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Period I. History of Joseph Smith, the prophet by himself, Volume IV, published for the Church, 1978, The Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, pg. 326.


3. John Hamilton Morgan Journal, Special Curriculum, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Nauvoo picture from Wikipedia, obituary from cousin Karen M.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nicholas and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck. Lost sheep...

Earlier posts here about Nicholas [1819-1884] and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck [1820-1883] are from histories my mother (Helen Rex Frazier) collected, and from DUP histories written by the Groesbeck’s granddaughters. Cousin Karen sent me a copy of their oldest son, Nicholas Harmon Groesbeck’s, autobiography. That, and an 1855 St. Louis, Missouri newspaper article I found online, clarified the ten-fifteen years they lived in Illinois.

While living in New York, Nicholas Groesbeck, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1839. He then moved to Springfield, Illinois to be nearer the prophet Joseph Smith. In Springfield he met Elizabeth Thompson, who worked as a maid, and they were married on March 25, 1841. Seven of their ten children were born in Springfield. Son Nicholas Harmon, who was born April 27, 1842, wrote in his autobiography,

“From the time of 1844 to 1855 mother had opposed plural marriages and had investigated nearly every other religion, including spiritualism, but never could find anything to satisfy her. In the meantime she made it a matter of prayer and many times along with her children she would go into her room and there ask God to direct her in the right way, for she was sincerely seeking salvation for herself and her children’s souls; so that when Elder James Case came to her home and explained to her the principles of plural marriage in its true sense, she was thoroughly converted to it and in the latter part of May 1855, she and father were rebaptized, having previously been baptized into the Mormon Church. Elder Case taught them the principles of having their children baptized at eight years of age, and as myself and brother, William, were past eight years they immediately had us baptized. “

From letters written by Missionary Thomas Colburn and published in the May 2, and May 31, 1855, St. Louis Luminary found online here, I learned that missionaries were called in an earlier St. Louis conference to search out the lost sheep in the northeast. It was during that course that Elder James Case found himself at the Nicholas Groesbeck home in Springfield, Illinois. Elizabeth Groesbeck was listed among the members who were rebaptized.

Thomas Colburn’s report of Elder Case’s missionary experiences and visit to the Groesbecks published in the St. Louis Luminary is well worth the few minutes it takes to read through it. Search for Groesbeck after following the link above.

Picture of Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck dress and shawl on display at recent DUP gathering.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Great Great Grandmother Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck's rocking chair. Her generosity.

During a recent visit to my Aunt Flora Rex Lamborn’s home in Randolph, Utah I saw my GG Grandmother Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck’s rocking chair. It was in the upstairs bedroom I slept in, and so I sat and rocked in it too.

I found record of the organization of the 17th Ward Relief Society, during a visit to the Church History Library in Salt Lake City a while back, and I copied:

“A record of the organization and proceedings of the Relief Society of the 17th Ward, Residence of H. Dorius (sp) 17th Ward, Thursday evening, February 6, 1868. Present Bishop Davis, Counsellor (sp) Morris, H. L. Dorius and others.”

The bishop directed the sisters to elect their officers. Following the calling of the presidency it was also “moved and seconded” that Mrs. E. Groesbeck be the assistant for the 6th block. There were assistants for blocks 1-7. Bishop Davis then rose and said that the Society was now organized.

Minutes of the proceedings of the 3rd meeting of the Female RS of the 17th Ward held on February 20, 1868, at the residence of Thomas Ellerbeck, included a list of member contributions.

Mrs. E. Groesbeck, patchwork, $2.50
Further on in the list, and still under the 3rd meeting,
Mrs. E. Groesbeck, 2-1/2 yds homemade cloth, $3.75
1 pr shoes, $4.00
1 set breakfast plates, $3.00

Grandmother Groesbeck's generosity is well known and included in an article written about the Groesbecks in this March 2009 Capitol Hill Neighborhood Council Bulletin.

A family, destitute because of illness and unemployment, rented a cottage (according to some reports this was the house at 76 West 200 North) from the Groesbecks. A puzzled friend asked the husband where he got the money to pay the rent. The man replied, “We receive the rent money from Mrs. Groesbeck. She comes around with the rent money a day or two before her husband comes around to collect it.”