Friday, September 30, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Picture of Abraham Lincoln from Elizabeth Groesbeck's granddaughter Bessie Morgan Rex's scrapbook.
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
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.”  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.” … 
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
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.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
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.”