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Dwight Harding and Phebe Holbrook Family
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Dwight Harding Biography
compiled by Jaelynne Hathaway - 2003
Dwight Harding was the youngest member of the family of Ralph and Azubah Goodell Harding. He was born 27 April 1807 in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. This area of Sturbridge later became known as Southbridge, Massachusetts. His father, Ralph, was born 19 September 1770, and died 13 February 1854, both in Sturbridge. His mother, Azubah, was born 14 December 1772 at Woodstock, Connecticut. She died in Sturbridge on 6 February 1833.
Dwight had three brothers and one sister: Calvin, born 19 February 1798; Palmer, born 23 December 1799; Nancy, born 4 October 1801; and Stillman born 26 November 1803. Both Stillman and Nancy died unmarried. Palmer had three children all of whom died unmarried. So only Calvin and Dwight had family to carry on the family name.
Dwight was said to be a frail and delicate child. He loved music. He learned to use his hands and was talented in the area of construction work. During the winter, he attended the local school which was only in session about four months of each year. Thus, his education was limited. His studies included reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, history, and geography.
As a young boy, Dwight was given the job of peeling pumpkins to be strung and dried for winter use. It was a tedious job and there were many pumpkins to be peeled. His ingenious mind soon perceived of an easier and quicker way to do the job. He soon invented a pumpkin peeler. To the delight and astonishment of other family members, the pumpkins were put on the peeler, a handle was turned, and the peelings flew in all directions. Needless to say, he was always assigned the pumpkin peeling job after this successful demonstration.
Dwight developed the skills and abilities of a carpenter. Once married, he furnished his home with a cupboard, tables, chairs, a cradle, a churn, washtubs, and washboards. He prepared the rawhide with which he strung the beds and the chair bottoms. The furniture he made was used during his lifetime in Willard, and some of it is still held as relics in the Harding family.
Dwight was the only member of his family to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. His childhood friend, Joseph Holbrook, introduced him to this "new" religion while he was working with him in Genesee County, New York. He was baptized 3 January 1833 in Warsaw by Elder Leonard Rich. Joseph's sister, Phebe, was baptized 20 January 1833 also by Elder Rich. Dwight and Phebe were married 12 February 1833 in Genesee County, New York.
Dwight and Phebe were happily married, but they had accepted a religion whose beliefs were not in harmony with the views of many of their family, friends, and associates. This led to much persecution as they were unmercifully driven from their homes and forced to move from place to place. Dwight's father constantly chastized him for this irrational and embarrassing action. In one letter he wrote, ". . . I must tell you Dwight, that you have brought much trouble and disgrace to me in my old age . . ."
Dwight and Phebe made their first home in a log cabin in Weathersfield, Genesee County, New York. Here their first child, George, was born 18 December 1833. Shortly after the birth of George, Dwight moved his family to Ohio to be near the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Church headquarters which were in Kirtland, Ohio.
As the Saints left Kirtland, Dwight moved his family west with them, to Keytesville, Chariton County, Missouri. Here a second son, Alma, joined the family on 29 June 1835. By this time, the enemies of the Church were increasing rapidly and persecution was increasing proportionately. Dwight never wavered in his determination to stand by the Prophet, abide by his counsel, and remain with the body of the Church.
As a result of this determination, he soon moved his family to Clay County, and Caldwell County, Missouri. Within three years, mob violence had driven them to Far West, Daviess County, Missouri. Charles, another son, joined the family in Far West on 2 April 1838. Dwight was in the congregation at Far West that the mobs forced to "lay down their arms" on 1 November 1838, before being driven from their homes once again.
The family was sick and cold as they moved from Far West, Missouri to Quincy, Illinois with all their belongings in one wagon. In Quincy a daughter, Elizabeth Jane, joined their family on 23 October 1840. Shortly after her birth, Dwight moved his family to Commerce, Illinois where the Prophet Joseph was establishing "the City Beautiful" which became known as Nauvoo.
In Nauvoo, Dwight built his family a house surrounded by friends and neighbors who held common beliefs. Early family members decribed this home as a three-room brick home. Years later, George, the oldest son, described the area to his daughter mentioning a two-story brick home, and several two-story frame homes. Because of Dwight's talent with wood construction, it is possible that their home in Nauvoo was of wood. In those day, people were continually adding rooms to their homes, so it may have been built of both brick and wood. Phebe's brother, Chandler, lived just down the block. Her other brother, Joseph, lived across the street from Chandler. Joseph's wife was a school teacher. She taught all the Harding and Holbrook children.
In Nauvoo, two more daughters were added to Dwight's family. Nancy Ann was born 8 November 1843. She died 15 August 1845 and was buried in the backyard under a tree. Eight days later, on 23 August 1845, Phebe Eliza was born.
Dwight's craftmanship ability made him a valuable asset to the Church building program. He assisted in the building of both the Kirtland and the Nauvoo Temples. Dwight and Phebe received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple 21 January 1846. They returned to the temple where their marriage was sealed for time and all eternity 29 January 1846.
Dwight was a bodyguard to the prophet Joseph Smith. He was also a member of the Nauvoo Legion. A short time before his martyrdom, he personally heard the Prophet Joseph Smith say, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter."
After the death of Joseph Smith, Dwight and Phebe were at the Church meeting held in Nauvoo 8 August 1844 when the mantle of leadership fell upon Brigham Young. They beheld the miraculous transformation of Brigham Young and heard the Prophet Joseph speak through him. They were satisfied that he was the leader to follow.
While making preparations to leave Nauvoo, Dwight was taken seriously ill and he was not expected to live. Phebe, his wife, was a woman of great devotion and faith. She prayed to the Lord to spare the life of her husband. She was inspired to send for the Elders of the Church to come and administer to him. When they came, they dressed in their temple robes and formed a prayer circle around his bed. In the blessing pronounced upon his head, he was given the promise that he would recover and bring his family to the Rocky Mountains in the West. His days were numbered at twenty-five more years. This promise was fulfilled. Although he was never a strong, robust man, he took care of his health and enjoyed life until his death, twenty-five years later.
In May of 1846, the Harding family was ready to leave Nauvoo. They were not able to take many possessions with them as they also had the family of Truman O. Angell traveling in their wagon. Truman's wife was a cousin to Phebe. As they were leaving their home and property, a man and his young son drove up and made ready to take possession of the house. Dwight kept the deed to the property, but had no legal recourse as once again they were driven from their home.
Dwight moved his family through Iowa and caught up with the vanguard company at the Missouri River. Dwight helped to build the ferry to cross this river. After a few days in the settlement known as Winter Quarters, his family was sent ahead with the vanguard company to prepare the trail for the pioneers to follow. This company was near Grand Island when Brigham Young sent word that they were not going to be able to go to the Valley in 1846 and to find a place to winter over until the next spring.
For this, and various other reasons, the trip from Nauvoo to Utah took the Harding family five years. The details of these five years can be read in the story titled "Dwight Harding Family from Nauvoo to Utah." During this five year period, they lived in Niobrara, Nebraska, Winter Quarters, Council Bluffs, and had a small homestead just east of Council Bluffs in an area known as Mosquito Creek. While living at Council Bluffs (also known as Kanesville) Dwight built the first jail house in that area.
At this time, Dwight received notice that the Harding estate in Massachusetts had been settled and he was entitled to $50.00. This was a very small share, but the money was badly needed. Dwight had again been ill, and was too weak to go obtain the money himself. So he sent his oldest son, George, about one hundred miles to the nearest government mail station where he received it.
The letters received from relatives in Massachusetts were not placed in envelopes, but were folded with one outside cover left for the address. The folds were caught together and gummed seal was bent to fasten them. No stamp was placed on the letter but 25¢ or 10¢, as the weight of the letter required, was marked with pen or pencil near the address. The contents contained not only the family news items, but pleadings for Dwight Harding to come home with his family and not take them into the western wilds to be killed by the Indians.
On 16 June 1851 the Dwight Harding family finally left Iowa for The Valley. They arrived in Salt Lake City on 15 September. After a brief visit with Phebe's brother in Session's Settlement, now known as Bountiful, the family headed north and settled at Willow Creek. A few years later the residents changed the name to Willard in honor of Willard Richards, a leader in the church.
A few other families had begun to build cabins in the area earlier that summer. Upon their arrival at Willow Creek, Dwight and his boys began to haul logs from the canyon to build a cabin just east of 100 West and on the north side of 100 South. A few years later, they built a larger log home, just west of this cabin, on the west side of 100 West. Their homestead included about 75 acres of land. All the homes in the settlement were built of logs and faced the west. In 1856, they began to make adobe homes. Dwight built one of the first adobe homes in the area. It was 1½ stories high.
Building near Willow Creek provided adequate water for the settlement. However, in 1857 there was a drought and the residents had to haul water from near the mouth of the canyon. Soon they dug an irrigation ditch and lined the bottom and sides with rock laid so closely together that water would not escape through seepage.
In 1852, Dwight helped to build the first school house in Willard. He hauled the logs from the canyon and split them for the floor. They were laid with the convex side down and the flat side up. The floor was called a puncheon floor. It was quite a task to make it so the slabs would join and fit perfectly, as logs are not equal in size and shape.
The logs for the floor were laid on "sleepers." One or two sleepers were laid on each end crosswise of the building. According to the size of the building, another one or two were placed in the center. To make the roofs, the logs were laid lengthwise with the flat sides up. Dirt was placed on top of the slabs. At first, all the buildings had dirt roofs. Desks and benches were made in a similarly crude fashion. There was a huge fireplace in one end of the room. For the first few years, this building was used for church, school, and social gatherings.
Miracles were fairly common in the lives of the pioneers. Dwight experienced this miracle in the spring of 1853. He was getting ready to take the boys down into the field to finish preparing the land to plant wheat. Due to illness that spring, he had a late start as the other residents had already planted their fields. As they were leaving the yard, a man by the name of Christensen drove in. He said Brigham Young had sent him to Willard to get a load of wheat. Many emigrants would be entering Salt Lake City and he was having a hard time obtaining food with which to feed them.
Brother Christensen had spent the night before at a neighbors and had been told that Dwight Harding had the only wheat in the settlement and that was very little. He was somewhat discouraged when he drove with his wagon into the yard. He did not want to go back to President Young with an empty wagon. When he asked for the wheat, Dwight said, "I have between three and four bushel of wheat in the bin. I have prepared land to plant six pecks of it. My boys and I are now on our way to the field to work. In the granary you will find a peck measure. Fill it six times, using a little board to smooth it off even. Put my share in one corner of the bin, then you may take the rest."
When Dwight and his sons came from the field at noon, Brother Christensen was still sacking wheat. He had his wagon filled with sacks which he had filled and sewed up, and was just finishing with the last sack. Dwight said,"Well, I see you got your load of wheat. Where did you get it?"
"I got it right here in your bin," was the reply. "I did just as you told me to do. After putting your six peck in one corner, I have taken my load from the rest."
Dwight looked at his boys in amazement. They all knew how little wheat there had been in the granary, yet here was the evidence that a wagon load of wheat had been taken from their bin after their share was left. They went into the house where dinner was ready. Brother Christensen ate dinner with them. The meal was unusually quiet as their minds were filled with wonder.
When the Willard Ward was organized, Dwight Harding was made first counselor in the Bishopric. He was a member of the first Utah Territorial Legislature which convened in Salt Lake City. Brigham Young appointed Dwight to be one of the first Selectmen of Box Elder County. He was elected to this position on 5 August 1857. He was later forced to resign due to poor health.
Dwight died 2 May 1871. His obituary stated "He ever maintained a fervent desire, and was faithful to his profession for the kingdom of God. He filled many important offices in the Church, and was President of the High Priests in Willard at the time of his death." Dwight is buried in the Willard City Cemetery.
Phebe Holbrook Biography
compiled by Jaelynne Hathaway - 2003
Phebe Holbrook was born 16 March 1810 in Florence, Oneida County, New York. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Moses and Hannah Holbrook. She was greeted by two older brothers: Joseph, born 16 January 1806, and Chandler, born 16 September 1807. Moses Holbrook, her father, died just before Phebe turned four. His wife, Hannah, eventually remarried to Alvin Owens and gave birth to several more children..
Soon after the death of Moses Holbrook on 28 February 1814, Joseph went to live at the home of his paternal grandfather, John Holbrook, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. When Phebe was five, she and Chandler traveled to Massachusetts to join their grandfather's household. Grandfather Holbrook had promised Hannah that if she would permit him the privilege of rearing the children, he would bring them up as though they were his own. Phebe did not see her mother again for almost seventeen years.
Phebe was educated in Sturbridge in a one-room school house, which, like most other rural schools of that period, operated for only three to four months each year. Each morning she had chores to do before she traveled almost two miles to get to school. In the evening there were chores to do as well as school lessons to complete. Her studies included reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, and grammar. Evidently she was diligent in her studies which were very helpful years later when she served as treasurer of the Relief Society.
Phebe's grandparents were religious and had high ideals which they instilled in all of the children. They were taught not to use foul language, to be honest and truthful, and to be good, hard workers. These ideals were sometimes referred to as the "Blue Laws of Connecticut" which were customs of a strict nature established by the early New England colonists.
Sunday was a day of worship. Everyone was expected to attend church and to sit quietly or be punished. The trip to church was made by foot. Play was not allowed on the Sabbath. Phebe found these restrictions tolerable because of the friendship of her Great Aunt, Charlotte Holbrook, who was single and lived in the same household. The two of them became great friends and Phebe learned much from her.
When Phebe was fourteen years of age, General Lafayette of France visited America. A great reception was given in his honor in Boston. Phebe was living with an aunt and uncle quite close to Boston and desired to go. But the Aunt and Uncle insisted she stay at home and care for their children while they go to the reception in Boston. It was a big disappointment to Phebe, but she did as she was told. Upon their return, the aunt reported to her that the crowd was immense. Each person present had been permitted to shake the hand of the general. Ropes had been stretch so that each individual took his turn to pass along the chartered enclosure in single file and was thus able to greet General Lafayette personally. This hand shaking had taken hours, and when their turn came, friends of the General held up his hand to shake theirs, because he was too tired to hold it up by himself.
When Phebe turned eighteen, her grandfather offered her two choices in regards to her future. She could either leave his home and work to support herself; or, if she preferred, she could remain in his home and work for her board, room, and clothing and when she turned twenty-one years of age he would give her fifty dollars.
Phebe's Aunt Charlotte persuaded her to work away from home. She felt this would help Phebe to make new acquaintance and friends and learn new ways and understandings from others. Thus, Phebe left the home of her grandparents to work for others in the Sturbridge area.
Phebe desired to return to her birth place and visit her mother as her older brothers had done. Before she was able to do this her mother moved from Annsville (also referred to as Florence), in Oneida County to a farm near Weathersfield in Genesee County, New York. Phebe worked hard and saved most of her money. Finally, in February of 1831 she was able to travel with her brother Joseph and his new wife from Sturbridge, Massachusetts to Weathersfield, New York and the home of her mother. It had been almost seventeen years since they had seen each other.
While living in Genesee County, New York, Joseph Holbrook converted to Mormonism. He brought his enthusiasm for his new found religion home to his wife, mother, step-father, and siblings, as well as friends and associates many of whom also embraced this new religion. Dwight Harding, a friend of Joseph's from Sturbridge, was working with Joseph in New York. He embraced this new religion and was baptized on the 3rd of January 1833 by Elder Leonard Rich.
Phebe was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 20th of January 1833 in Warsaw, Genesee County, New York also by Elder Leonard Rich. Phebe and Dwight Harding were married 12 February 1833. Her wedding dress was made of lavender silk, was very soft and felt rich and dainty. Many dozens of buttons were used to trim it. She saved her wedding dress throughout the long, difficult years which followed. After her death, several different families of her descendants each received a portion of it.
Although Dwight and Phebe were happily married, they had accepted a gospel belief which was not in harmony with the views of many of their friends and associates. They, like many others who joined the Church, were persecuted unmercifully, were driven from their homes, and were forced to move from place to place just to preserve their lives.
Their first home was in Weathersfield, New York. Here their first child was born. George joined their family on 18 December 1833. While George was an infant, they decided to move to a small village near Kirtland, Ohio where they would be closer to the prophet and the headquarters of the Church.
The spring of 1835 they moved to Keytesville, Chariton County, Missouri where Alma, their second son, was born 29 June 1835. Shortly after his birth they were forced to move to Caldwell in Clay County, Missouri. A few years later, they were again driven from their home and moved to Far West, Missouri. Here, Charles, their third son, was born on 2 April 1838.
When driven from Far West, they moved to Quincy, Illinois. Here Elizabeth Jane, their first daughter was born on 23 October 1840. They soon found themselves forced to move again. This time to Nauvoo, Illinois where Nancy Ann was born 8 November 1843. She died the 15 August 1845 and was buried under a tree in a corner of the lot containing the family home. Phebe Eliza was born eight days later 23 August 1845 also in Nauvoo.
Phebe's brother, Chandler lived just down the block. Her other brother, Joseph moved his family to Nauvoo in 1842. His wife was sick and he had four small children. They joined Phebe's modest household and Phebe nursed his sick wife who died a short time later. Phebe then added Joseph's four children to her household and cared for them as if they were her own. After about 6 months, Joseph remarried and built his new wife a house next door to Dwight and Phebe. He moved his four children into his home with them. His new wife was a school teacher. She taught school in her home to all the Holbrook and Harding children as well as some of the neighbors.
Phebe was in Nauvoo when the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. She went to the Mansion Home and saw her beloved prophet lying next to his martyred brother, Hyrum, before they were secretly buried. Phebe was in the historic meeting of 8 August 1844, where Brigham Young spoke to the mourning Saints and the mantle of the Prophet Joseph Smith fell upon him and his face and voice resembled those of the Prophet Joseph. She witnessed this marvelous transformation and was satisfied he was the chosen leader of the Lord and thus the man to follow.
Phebe was a member of the first Relief Society organization in Nauvoo and did her part in helping to clothe and feed the workers on the Nauvoo Temple. She was a good friend to Lucy Smith, the Prophet Joseph's mother, and they frequently visited in each others home.
Phebe and Dwight were privileged to receive their Temple Endowment in the Nauvoo Temple 21 January 1846. They later returned to the temple and were sealed together for time and all eternity 29 January 1846. They paid $1.00 each to attend the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple in May, just prior to their departure from Nauvoo.
While in Nauvoo, Dwight became seriously ill. Phebe prayed for him and his recovery. She was inspired to call for the elders of the Church. They dressed in their Temple Robes and formed a Prayer Circle around his bed. A prayer was offered in his behalf in which he was promised he would recover and take his family west with the Saints. His remaining years were numbered at twenty-five. This promise was fulfilled and he died twenty-five years later - almost to the day.
The journey from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley took five years (See Dwight Harding Family from Nauvoo to Utah). During which time, they journeyed across Iowa, into Nebraska, north to Niobrara and the Ponca village, back to Winter Quarters and Council Bluffs, then to a small settlement just east of Council Bluffs on Mosquito Creek. They finally travelled west in the John G. Smith Company of 1851 arriving in The Valley 15 September 1851. After a short visit with her brother Joseph who had settled at Sessions Settlement, now known as Bountiful, Dwight and Phebe made their way north to a settlement at Willow Creek, now known as Willard, Utah.
Phebe was a devoted wife and supported her husband faithfully during all their married years. With her husband, she was true and faithful to their religion. She always fed the hungry, clothed the poor, and housed the homeless. She cared for and comforted the sick, washed and laid away the dead, put new life and hope in the lives of those who were bowed down with grief and discouragement, and filled them with a deeper faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She saw the sick miraculously healed. She heard the gift of tongues and the interpretation given.
Her labor, aside from her family and neighborly duties, was with the Relief Society. She was a member of the first Relief Society organized in Nauvoo. In 1857 she
became the first treasurer of the Relief Society Organization in Willard. This required a great deal of book work as the sisters willingly donated both grain and money for the purchase of wheat to be stored for times of famine. She magnified her calling in every respect as was required of a willing and faithful Latter-day Saint.
Phebe willingly and frequently assisted the new emigrants who had come from foreign countries to the area. Often, as many as ten beds were made on the floor of the one-roomed log home of the Hardings to help accomodate these strangers in a strange land. Clothing was often supplied to them, and other needy, from the loom of Phebe. In early days, carding, spinning, weaving, and knitting was done in the home on winter days by the huge fireplace which was supplied with wood brought from the Willard Canyon.
Phebe Harding will always be remembered for her hospitality and kindness to everyone. Indians were never turned from her door unsatisfied or without something to eat. Until her death, she was a loyal supporter of the Relief Society. She did much to relieve the suffering and sorrow of others.
Phebe died in Willard just short of three years after her husband on 18 March 1874. She is buried by the side of her husband in the Willard Cemetery. Four of her six children are buried with their families nearby.
The Dwight Harding Family Book, pages 83-107.
Dwight Harding Family Nauvoo to Willard
Joseph Holbrook Journal
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Membership Records