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Lyman Curtis and Charlotte Alvord

Lyman CURTIS. [Ancestors].
He was born 21 January 1812 at New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts, the son of Nahum CURTIS and Millicent WAITE. He was christened on 23 February 1815 at New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts.

When Lyman was a small boy, between the age of 6 and 11, his family moved to Michigan, where they were among the earliest settlers. They lived on the shores of Sylvan Lake; near Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan. It was here that he spent most of his youth. His family did a lot of fishing on the lake and hunting in the surrounding woods. Even in winter they would chop a hole in the ice for fishing. At night they would build a fire beside the hole to attract the fish.

When Lyman was a little older the family heard stories of how well the corn grew down south. Since Lyman was the oldest, he was sent to see if it was true. On his return, he was afraid to tell that most fields would average eighty bushels to the acre and some would even yield a hundred bushels per acre.


Early in 1833 several Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came into the area, holding a series of meetings, and bearing witness of the restoration of the gospel. Soon Joseph Smith and also others came to Michigan. (S22). The Curtis family heard the Elders preach the gospel and were quickly convinced of its truth. Lyman and several of his siblings were baptized on 14 MAR 1833 by Samuel Bent in Millford near Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan. Charlotte ALVORD [F35], whom he later married, was also baptized there the same day. A Branch of the Church was organized at Pontiac in a school house which afterward was known as the “Old Mormon Schoolhouse.” (S22).

Lyman visited Kirtland, Ohio in 1833 and helped in building the Kirtland Temple. The temple there was begun that summer. Preparations began about the first part of June. On 5 JUN George A. Smith hauled the first load of stone for the Temple and Hyrum Smith and Reynolds Cahoon commenced digging the trench for the walls. The cornerstones were laid on 23 JUL 1833. It is not known when Lyman arrived or what work he did while there. Very few records are available for the beginning work on the Kirtland Temple. Lyman did not stay in Kirtland long, however, but returned shortly to Michigan.

At that same time, the Saints in Missouri were suffering great persecution. The revelation to Joseph Smith in July of 1831 known as D&C 57 designating Jackson County as the gathering place for the Saints, and the 2 August 1831 dedication by Sidney Rigdon of the land of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri for the settling of the saints caused a migration of the saints to that area. They had endured many hardships at the hands of the previous settlers, and were now forced by the mob to sign an agreement that they would leave Jackson County.

On 22 February 1834 Lyman Wight and Parley P. Pratt brought word of their plight to Kirtland. The History of the Church says, "There was great distress throughout the church in consequence of the calamities which had befallen the saints in Missouri." D&C 101 and 103 directed that the saints of the churches in the east make preparations for purchase of lands in Jackson and surrounding counties, and that about 500 men be raised to join their brethren in Missouri, to reinstate the exiles in their lands, to buy out the old settlers, to maintain their inheritance by force of numbers and to alleviate the suffering of the Saints. This led to the organization of Zion's Camp. Eight Church leaders were told to recruit participants for the march. Four teams of two men each went east to obtain men, money, and supplies. A fifth pair, Lyman Wight and Hyrum Smith, went to Michigan and Illinois. Wilford Woodruff tells of the Prophet’s message to the elders who met at Kirtland in preparation for the march:

"On Sunday night the Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland, and who had gathered together to go off in Zion’s Camp. That was the first time I ever saw Oliver Cowdery, or heard him speak; the first time I ever saw Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, and the two Pratts, and Orson Hyde and many others. There were no Apostles in the Church then except Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear their testimonies. When they got through the Prophet said, Brethren I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap. You don't comprehend it. I was rather surprised. He said, it is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America--it will fill the world. (Conference Report, APR 1898, p. 57).

The group of marchers gathered at Kirtland in the spring of 1834. When Zion's Camp was ready to start, it numbered about 130 to 150 members. This number was increased to 205 by the time the camp arrived in Missouri. The Camp had with it 20 baggage wagons.

The march of Zion’s Camp took approximately 50 days and was made through semi-wilderness areas, along unimproved roads and trails. Due to the hardships they endured many men in the camp died from cholera.

The Prophet Joseph Smith led the camp. He was joined by other leading brethren of the Church, including Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith, who was then a young boy.

About June 1st, 1834 they passed the bluffs of the Illinois River a mile south of the present Valley City, Illinois. Joseph Smith and a few camp members climbed the high bluffs and discovered a mound. An altar of stone with remains of bones were strewn over the ground. They dug and unearthed a human skeleton. Curious about who it might be, the group prayed about the person's identity. Later, the Prophet received an answer. The remains were those of Zelph, a great Lamanite warrior who had been killed in battle. The mound was afterward known as the Zelph Mound.

Spies followed the Camp on almost the entire trail, so camp members avoided telling people along the way about their mission. In mid-June, while they were stopped on an unprotected flood plain between two main branches of the Fishing River, a 200 to 300 man mob from Jackson County attempted to attack the camp. While the mob drew near for the attack, clouds gathered and soon a violent storm drenched the mob. Hail fell so hard that it destroyed crops growing in the area, and injured some of the mob. The mob scattered while members of Zion's Camp took refuge in a small meetinghouse.

Lyman and nineteen others from the Pontiac, Michigan area were called upon by Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight to join Zion's Camp and go with that company to Missouri. Hyrum Smith led the group, an so it was afterwards known as Hyrim Smith=s group from Michigan. They left from the Huron Branch in Michigan on May 5th. On the 6th they were at Ann Arbor. On May 10 and 11 they were at Kalamazoo. They crossed into Indiana and arrived at Elkhart on May 13th. on the 15th they were at Laporte. They then crossed into Illinois, where they were at Ottawa on the 21st, at Pekin on the 28th, and Lewiston on June 1st and at Quincy on June 5th. About the 6th they arrived in the vacinity of the Salt River in Missouri. It had been agreed upon that this northern group would join the marchers from Kirtland at the house of James Allred, a Church member living on the Salt River (or Salt Creek) in Monroe County in eastern Missouri. After traveling about 1000 miles to Salt River, Missouri; they joined the main camp on 8 June 1834. Their number increased the total of Zion's camp to 200 men, 11 women, and 7 children.

When Zion’s Camp arrived in Clay County, Missouri, they came, on 19 June 1834, to the farm of George BURKETT Jr. They remained there until the Camp was disbanded. On 23 June while there at Rush Creek in Clay County, cholera struck the camp. About 68 of the camp were afflicted. Of them 13 men and one woman died of the disease.

When Zion’s Camp arrived in Missouri, Governor Dunklin was unwilling to fulfill his agreements with the exiled saints to restore them to their property. The saints in the eastern branches of the church had also failed to respond with sufficient men or money to enable them to take possession of their lands and purchase other lands. On 22 June 1834 while at Fishing River, the Prophet received D&C 105 by revelation, in which the Lord rebuked some members of the Church for not sufficiently supporting Zion’s Camp, but he accepted the sacrifice of the camp members. The Saints were instructed not to fight, but to wait for the Lord to redeem Zion. It therefore became apparent to the leaders that it was necessary to disband Zion's Camp and await some future opportunity to redeem Zion. Therefore, Zion's Camp was disbanded on Rush Creek, in Clay County on 30 June 1834, and the supplies distributed to the Saints there, which was completed on 2 July 1834. Joseph Smith and most of the Camp members returned to Kirtland. However, many chose to remain in Missouri among the saints there.

Since the Camp was disbanded and did not achieve its goal of rescuing the saints in Missouri, some people called it a failure. However, the Lord indicated to Joseph that the experiences of the trip were most valuable. The Prophet learned which Church members were his devoted supporters. Many of the Camp members later became leaders in the Church. The saints, especially Brigham Young, gained experience in moving large groups of people and materials over long distances. Nine of the first twelve apostles and all of the Quorum of Seventy were later called from the ranks of Camp members.

After Zion's Camp was disbanded each member was given a blessing by Patriarch Joseph Smith Senior. In his blessing to Lyman, he promised him that he would be an instrument in the hands of the Lord for doing much good. He was told that even as Moses, he should smite the rock and bring forth water upon the dry land. This was given almost as a mission for his early life, presaging the numerous canals he designed and built throughout Utah.

Lyman married Charlotte ALVORD on 16 (26) July 1834 in Clay County, Missouri, probably at Liberty. Some sources have said they were married in February, but the correct month was undoubtedly July, since the marriage was said to have occurred in Clay County, and since he was there as a member of Zion's Camp. Charlotte had also been a member of Zion's Camp, one of only three women who traveled with it. She was also a member of Hyrum Smith’s group from Michigan.

After Zion's Camp was disbanded and they were married, Lyman and Charlotte chose to stay with the saints in Clay County, Missouri. The Curtis family purchased land from the government and built houses. About the summer of 1836 they were forced to move from Clay County. They moved to Caldwell County and settled near where Far West was founded. The massacre occurred at Far West on 25 OCT 1838 and on the 26th, Governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued his infamous extermination order to expel the Mormons from Missouri. Brigham Young took 12-15,000 saints into Illinois, especially to Quincy. Among them were Lyman and Charlotte. From the birth records of their children, their move to Quincy appears to have occurred between January and March of 1839.

One time when the Saints were driven from their homes Lyman and Charlotte were especially reluctant to leave the comforts they had worked so hard to gather around them. They especially mentioned the new painted chairs, their first real ones, that they had thought to enjoy so much. At last there was no choice. They had no idea what they must meet, but if they were to be with the Saints they must leave everything except what could be put into one small spring wagon. Near them lived a family of five that had no way to go except through the kindness of some neighbor. Lyman and Charlotte put what flour they had (about 500 lbs.) into the wagon with one small box that held their wearing apparel. Then they invited the neighbor family to get in, which they gladly accepted.

When they came to ford the river, the water had risen and the wagon was swept down until it missed the place where they should have pulled up the bank. Without the good footing at the ford, the horses were unable to pull the wagon out. Several times they slipped back down into the water. At last others came and helped them out, but everything in the wagon was wet. About an hour after they got out one of the horses, "Old Claybank", named for his color, lay down and died. Many people gathered around the dead horse expressing sympathy. A tall man reached through the crowd and said, "Mr. Curtis, here is thirty-five dollars, go and buy another horse." Lyman was so surprised that for a minute he could only look at the money in his hand. When he turned to thank him, the man was nowhere to be seen. Even though the crowd helped look for him, he was not found. No one had seen him come or go. With the money they were able to buy a horse as good as the one that was lost.


On 22 APR 1839 Joseph Smith arrived in Quincy, Illinois and directed the saints to settle Dr. Halland's land near Commerce, Illinois. It occupied a site along the Mississippi River and included swamp land and some rich farmland. This became the central gathering place for the Saints and was renamed "Nauvoo". The poverty stricken saints usually bought land there with a small down payment and a mortgage stretching over many years. Land speculators were frequent along the frontier and this was a common practice. By the next year, nearly 2500 saints were living in Nauvoo. On 16 DEC 1840, Governor Thomas Carlin signed a bill creating the Nauvoo Charter. In 1845, at Nauvoo’s height, it contained more than 11,000 inhabitants; more than Chicago had at the time.

Work was rushed on the Nauvoo Temple, described by many visitors as the most impressive edifice in the western frontier. The church grew in depth and understanding of doctrinal matters also. Temple endowments, baptism for the dead, and temple sealings were begun.

After moving to Nauvoo, the Curtis family first worked in the stone quarries and prepared stone for the temple at Nauvoo. Later, Lyman and his brother Moses were called to take their families, under the direction of Samuel Bent, and to go up the Mississippi River to Wisconsin; where for nearly two years they worked getting out timber and floating it down river for the Nauvoo temple. They also made shingles for the temple. They were furnished the necessities which the family required, such as corn meal. Moses's son Monroe could not remember having a flour biscuit until they came to Utah. The corn meal they had was often so bitter they could hardly use it, but they rejoiced so much in laboring for the Temple, as they were called to do, that the poor food or conditions were of little consequence.

When the timber and logs were placed into the river, they were tied together into a raft with wooden pins and hickory withes. Then the workmen would pile their things on and float down to the landing. Once when they were bringing a raft of timber down the river, it was necessary to stop for provisions. They drew in near the bank and Lyman took the rope, sprang to the shore, and wrapped the rope around a young tree that grew near the water's edge. The force of the current on the raft drew the tree down under the water, taking Lyman with it, since he would not let it loose. If he had loosened his hold he would have been carried under the long raft. When he went out of sight some of the bystanders said, "Well, there's one Mormon gone to ----". However, the supple springiness of the tree drew the raft back, and the tree rose up out of the water, saving Lyman and giving him the chance to continue his journey, but little the worse for the wetting.

The family lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin while they were getting out the timber. Their son Samuel B. CURTIS was born at La Crosse. There is a small town and school district near La Crosse that still bears the name "Mormon Coulee" from their encampment. Lyman and Charlotte were said to have served a mission together sometime after 1840. It was probably this mission to La Crosse to obtain timber for the temple, though that is not certain.

Lyman and Charlotte again endured much persecution with the saints in Illinois. Apostates and dissenters made life miserable for the loyal saints. At the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith on 27 JUN 1844, a reward was offered for Joseph's head. As a result Lyman and his brother George were assigned as members of the guard over the bodies.


In October of 1845 a group of Illinois citizens gathered for the so-called “Quincy Convention.” They insisted that the Latter-day Saints remove themselves from the state by MAY 1846. The leading councils of the church, under the direction of Brigham Young, told the Saints to prepare equipment and provisions for one year in the wilderness. Work was also urged ahead on the nearly completed Nauvoo Temple.

For several weeks before leaving Nauvoo the women parched corn so that it would not turn bitter when made into corn meal. To use it, they ground it in a coffee mill. They ate it with milk or the cornmeal was baked like bread, then crumbled and dried in the oven. It was called "rusk". Enough was cooked so that it lasted until they arrived at Winter Quarters.

On 30 NOV 1845 (or 11 DEC) endowment work began in the Temple. On Saturday 31 JAN 1846, Temple work continued until 10:39 p.m., and 233 individuals received the endowment ordinance that day. Brigham Young announced that no more endowment work would take place in the Temple. President Young and the council, because of threats of arrest, assassination attempts, and possible federal intervention, and increasing apprehension among the Saints, determined that the Saints who were ready should now leave. In meetings on the 2nd of February, President Young made directions for things to be made in readiness, and stated, “If we are here many days, our way will be hedged up. Our enemies have resolved to intercept us whenever we start.” He desired that the Saints should be on their way before their enemies were aware of their movements. At 4:00 p.m. he met with the pre-selected captains of hundreds and fifties who were apprised of the day’s decisions.

On Tuesday, the 3rd of February hundreds thronged to the temple, and even though President Young had announced the previous week that no more endowments would be done, he recorded, “Looking upon the multitude and knowing their anxiety, as they were thirsting and hungering for the word, we continued at work diligently in the house of the Lord.” That day 295 people received their ordinances.

On the 4th of February, the families of Charles Shumway, a trustworthy council member who had been notified to lead out, quietly guided their wagons over the Mississippi River. They traveled nine miles into Iowa to the banks of Sugar Creek, where they camped to await the arrival of Brigham Young and others of the Twelve. Brigham Young spent most of the day loading up his wagons for his families. On Friday, the 6th of February work proceeded in the temple as Brigham Young lingered in Nauvoo to accomodate the faithful who were desirous to receive their promised blessings. Bishop George Miller and his family crossed the river in six wagons and proceeded on to Sugar Creek.

On Saturday, the 7th of February nearly 600 people received their endowments. This was the last day ordinances were performed in the Nauvoo Temple. Lyman and Charlotte were among those who received their blessings and endowment there this last day, on 7 FEB 1846. Between DEC 1845 and FEB 1846 more than 5,600 individuals were endowed and about 2,000 couples were sealed for time and all eternity.

On Sunday, the 9th of February, President Young met with the Quorum of the Twelve in the Temple and recorded, “We knelt around the altar, and dedicated the building to the Most High. We asked His blessing upon our intended move to the west; also we asked him to enable us some day to finish the Temple, and dedicate it to Him, and we would leave it in His hands to do as He pleased; and to preserve the building as a monument to Joseph Smith. We asked the Lord to accept the labors of His servants in this land.”

Later in the day President Young addressed the Sabbath meeting of the Saints in the grove near the temple. He informed them that the first companies going to the west would start the following week to cross the river. In the evening John Smith, uncle to the Prophet Joseph Smith and President of the Nauvoo Stake, crossed the river with his family and clerk, Albert Carrington.

On Monday, the 9th of February, the first sizable group of Saints began crossing the Mississippi River. Charles Shumway’s group was the first across, superintended by the Nauvoo Police under the direction of their leader, Hosea Stout. Brigham Young and the Council had given Hosea Stout and his 100 men the assignment to keep law and order during the trek west, and to serve as the Saints first line of protection. “They gathered several flatboats, some old lighters, and a number of skiffs, forming altogether quite a fleet.” That morning, Elder George A. Smith of the Council of Twelve also sent his families across the river.

At 3:30 in the afternoon the roof of the temple was discovered to be on fire. Many men rushed to put it out. Elder Willard Richards of the Council of Twelve organized a bucket brigade. The fire raged for half an hour, having been caused by an overheated stovepipe in the upper room that was being used to dry temple clothing. The damage to the roof was considerable. Brigham Young was far away from the temple when he saw the fire, but he hurried to help. He wrote in his journal, “I said if it is the will of the Lord that the Temple be burned, instead of being defiled by the Gentiles, amen to it.” Through the rest of the week, the Saints continued to stream across the river. They continued over the difficult and hilly nine miles to Sugar Creek. The camp at Sugar Creek was well organized with plenty of water. The company leaders waited there for the Twelve Apostles to lead them further west. Back in Nauvoo the Quorum finished their preparations and met for the last time in the Temple for prayers.


Before the month of February was over Lyman and Charlotte had crossed the Mississippi River with the saints for safety. They camped for a few days on Sugar Creek. On the first of March they moved out from Sugar Creek with the exiled Saints. Heavy spring rains made traveling through the mud very difficult. They traveled westward with the exiles to Winter Quarters. At that time Lyman and his wife had six small children.

Lyman had at that time what was considered to be a good gun and was known as a fine hunter. At one time, back in Nauvoo, the mob made the saints put their guns in the Public Square, under the promise that they would be protected. Lyman put his in with the others, but felt he could not let it go. He watched for his chance and got it away from the others.

Because of his fine rifle and his hunting ability, Lyman was chosen to go west with the first company of pioneers, Brigham Young's Company. I do not know if he actually crossed Iowa with the first company, but at least that journey across Iowa to Winter Quarters proved his hunting ability, and Brigham Young appointed him to travel from Winter Quarters on as one of two hunters for the group. He carried his rifle across the plains and back on his shoulders, often using it to good advantage. At one time he broke the back of a deer 800 steps away, a wonderful shot in those days. He also had it with him on his five year Indian mission to the Santa Clara from 1854 to 1859. The gun is now in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum in Salt Lake City.

I am including here some notes of interest from the general church migration westward, especially as they may be applied to the Curtis family.

On the 21st of April the first and sixth companies and some others left their encampment at Pleasant Point on Medicine Creek and traveled nine miles westward to Camp Creek. In the evening some of the hunters, possibly including Lyman, killed two wild hogs, and therefore the creek was renamed to Hog Creek. On the 23rd of April the first company traveled 10 miles further to a new encampment they called Pleasant Grove. Again the hunters brought in enough game so that there was enough to eat. On the 24th they arrived early at the east fork of the Grand River and established Garden Grove, which became an improtant way station for the Saints who followed. Here, Brigham Young conducted an inventory of all the pioneers and their provisions to determine who was prepared to go on to the mountains and to provide for the exiles coming behind them.

After arriving in Winter Quarters, the Curtis family built a log house and banked it with dirt. Some of the men went down to Missouri to work for corn to last through the winter. Lyman left his family at Winter Quarters in the care of his brother Moses. He traveled together with Levi Jackman, with whom he had labored getting out timber in Wisconsin, and who was probably the other hunter chosen by Brigham Young.


Lyman, and the pioneers, entered the Salt Lake Valley on 22 JUL 1847. This first company explored the valley and decided the best place to build the city was between the two forks of City Creek. That evening it is said that Lyman Curtis built a huge sagebrush fire, the first fire, which could be seen by many of the others who were still camped in the canyon. The next day he went back and helped others over the rough road into the valley. He also assisted in planting the first crops.

On 26 July 1847 a small group of Mormon pioneers, led by President Brigham Young, climbed Ensign Peak to survey the valley. Though not named specifically by name, Lyman Curtis is thought to have been among that group. On that occasion, President Brigham Young raised an ensign, an act in keeping with the prophecies of Isaiah: "And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly." (Isa.5:26).


In August, Lyman and Levi Jackman started out with four others to return to Winter Quarters. One of the other four was apparently Stephen Markham. Lyman and Levi had 12 lbs of flour to share for the journey. This they split so that they each had 6 pounds. They had one horse to carry the bedding for the group and they walked, carrying their guns. One night while they were sleeping on the plains by the Platte River their horse was stolen, but a light snow had fallen and they followed the tracks to a Sioux Indian camp. They went to the chief and explained their condition. The chief stood in the door of the wigwam and gave a call that brought the Indians from all sides. He told them that here were some of their friends that were a long way from home, their moccasins were worn out, their food was gone, and someone had taken their only horse. "Go!" he said. "Give them food. Have their moccasins mended. Bring their horse and send them on their way as you would be sent on your journey."

Squaws came, pointed at their moccasins, took them and brought them back half-soled and well fixed. Food was given to them and their horse was returned and they resumed their journey rejoicing. They considered it as great a tribute as could be paid to the thoughtful treaty and friendly influence that President Brigham Young had left behind on their road west. Lyman said that Pres. Young had made a compact of friendship with the Sioux that saved the saints from trouble with the warlike tribe and gave the saints peace on their way to Utah.

After returning, Lyman continued working to get ready for the trip west with his family. Once, while they were living at Cag (Keg) Creek which was 25 miles east of Winter Quarters, Lyman and his brother Moses went further down into Missouri to get necessities for the road. They wanted a barrel and the clerk told them to pick out one from the lot behind the store. They chose a heavy one, and when they got it back home and opened it, they discovered that it was about a third full of brown sugar. All the children were turned loose in it to have what they wanted for once, making a memorable occasion for them.

Lyman started westward toward Utah in the spring of 1850 with his brother Moses and both of their families. On the way their ninth child, William was born, somewhere near an Indian camp on the plains of Nebraska; but the birth didn't stop them long, and they were soon on their way again.

Stephen Markham was the captain of the company. About 15 people, including his sister Sophronia and her daughter, died of cholera on the way. As they came up the Platte, the water was very muddy. They would drop a few spoonsful of milk in a bucket of water to settle it. They dared not kill buffalo on the run, as the blood would cause the bulls to fight and make trouble. Lyman and the other hunters would kill the buffalo they needed when they were well away from the camp, and they would carry the meat back to camp. Ropes were stretched on which to hang the meat, to dry it or to smoke it. As they traveled along the Platte River they frequently had to stop for herds of buffalo, allowing them to pass by to get to the river. The guards who rode ahead would come back to warn the camp, which would then corral the wagons, unhitch them and chain the cattle to avoid a stampede, and then wait for the buffalo to pass. Thousands would go by on the run. Wood was scarce and "seasoned" buffalo chips were used for fuel. When they were away from buffalo they stopped so hunters could go out to get deer or other animals for meat. This also was dried into jerky over a fire.

Several times there were scares with Indians. Once an Indian wanted to buy a squaw, a white woman. One of the boys in jest said they would take seven ponies for one of the women, not thinking it would be taken seriously. The Indian, however went in a hurry and brought the horses. With a crowd of braves around it quickly turned serious, and to settle it the company had to give a couple of beefs and provisions, which they could ill afford.

They arrived in Salt Lake in October of 1850 and Lyman immediately set to work to build an adobe house. When they got to the valley they still had two sacks of the buffalo jerky left. They raised a nice bin of wheat, a good crop of corn and had five pigs. With that and the fish caught in the canyon streams, they felt like they had a fine living.


Lyman was only able to stay in Salt Lake for about a year, however. In 1853 he, Isaac Hatch and others were called to the Santa Clara Mission in southern Utah.
Lyman was called by Pres. Young to take charge of the construction of the canal from the Little Muddy River, now Moapa, into southern Nevada. After this was completed he was sent by President Brigham Young to take charge of the building of a canal out of the Santa Clara River below St. George. Part of their mission labors were also to teach the Indians how to farm.
On 14 April 1854, several wagons left Salt Lake City bound for southern Utah to open the Southern Indian Mission and establish the Santa Clara colony.

As part of his mission, Lyman participated in a project to raise cotton. He is said to have picked the first cotton raised in Utah. During the winter of 1854-55, one of the Missionaries, Jacob Vernon Hamblin, became ill and needed medicine and nourishing food. Augustus P. Hardy traveled north from Santa Clara to the settlement of Parowan to get supplies. While there, he visited sister Nancy Abderson or Anderson, who had come from the southern States, and had brought with her a quart of cotton seed. She gave the cotton seeds to Brother Hardy and he returned with it to Santa Clara, the first to be brought to the St. George area. This seed was carefully planted and cultivated on 100 acres of land near Santa Clara Creek. From this planting, two more quarts of seed were produced. Such an undertaking was new to the missionaries. One of them recommended soaking the seed in new milk to aid germination, but none of the seed that were soaked in the milk ever matured. The rest of the seed resulted in about 100 plants that grew and produced 75 pounds of seed cotton. By 1858, they had planted 130 acres into cotton, expecting a yield of 156,000 pounds.

Lyman apparently brought some of the cotton back to northern Utah with him after his mission because it was reported that the cotton yielded enough "lint" to provide 30 yards of cloth, "by the nimble fingers of Sister Caroline Beck Knight, Maria Woodbury Haskell, and Sister Lyman Curtis, on spinning wheel and treadle loom."

Years later he went back with his son Asa to the scene of his labors in southern Utah. As they went around a point of rock that had shut out the view of the valley, instead of seeing the barren desert landscape of the days when the canal was made, a beautiful picture stretched out on every side; of growing fields, fruitful orchards, vineyards and peaceful homes. The transformation was amazing. The sunshine was reflected from the rippling water in the canal that he had worked so hard to build. From his astonishment, his face showed the depth of his feeling as tears of joy ran down his cheeks.


After Lyman's call to the southern Utah mission and assisting in the settlement of the Saint George area, the family story we were told while growing up was that while Lyman was away on his mission, he did not correspond with the family in Salem, and after not hearing from him for several years, he was presumed dead. However, Charlotte and Lyman were divorced not long after the time that he left.

Documents filed in the Utah State Archive. The divorce papers state:
Territory of Utah, Great Salt Lake County. In the Probate Court for said County May 1856. Charlotte A. Curtis vs. Lyman Curtis. Petition for Bill of Divorce. The Plaintiff in the case Charlotte A. Curtis comes and complains of the Defendant Lyman Curtis and for [unreadable] says that she is a resident of Great Salt Lake County and the lawful wife of the said Defendant to whom she was married in the town of Liberty, Clay County Missouri in the month of February 1835 in accordance with the laws of the said State of Missouri regulating marriages.
And the said Plaintiff further saith that the said Defendant left her and her family consisting of five children on or about the tenth day of October 1854 since which time he the said Lyman Curtis has not provided for the support of the said Plaintiff and family neither has he corresponded with her but has entirely diserted her and left her to provide for her own support and that of her children as best she could and that the said Lyman Curtis has left the Territory of Utah and further that she has no assurance that the said Defendant ever intended to return to his family again. And the Plaintiff further saith that for some length of time before the said Defendant left her and family as before stated he had been in the habit of cruelly beating the said Plaintiff at times, inasmuch so that she lives a miserable and unhappy life and she verily believes that should he return again to his said wife and family that she could not live with him in peace and union and that further her happiness and welfare require a separation from him and therefore she comes and asks that a decree of the said Probate Court may be made dissolving the bonds of matrimony existing between her and the said Lyman Curtis, and that such relief may be extended to her as may be deemed equitable by the court in accordance with the statutes of the Territory of Utah in such case made and provided. Charlotte Curtis. Subscribed and sworn to before me this the day of May A.D. 1856. E. Smith. Probate Judge.
Probate Court. Charlotte Curtis vs. Lyman Curtis. Petition for Bill of Divorce. Filed May 6th 1856.

Territory of Utha, Great Salt Lake County. In the Probate Court for said County May 1856. Hon E. Smith, Judge. Charlotte A. Curtis vs. Lyman Curtis. Bill for Divorce. The case came in for hearing in the Probate Court within and for Great Salt Lake County, Utah on the eighth day of May A.D. 1856, upon the petition of the Plaintiff Charlotte Curtis and upon the investigation thereof, it was made to appear to the satisfaction of the Court, that the said Lyman Curtis the Defendant had been absent from his family for more than one year, that he was not a resident of the Territory of Utah and that the allegations set forth in the petition of the Plaitiff were true and therefore ordered and decreed that the bonds of matrimony heretofore existing between the said Charlotte Curtis and Lyman Curtis be and the same are hereby forever disolved.
And it was further decreed by the Court that the Plaintiff shall have what property there may be in the Territory belonging to the daid parties for the benefit of the minor children and the support of the said Plaitiff and that she pay the costs of the suit.
Charlotte Curtis vs. Lyman Curtis. Petition for Divorce Decree. May 8th, 1856. Recorded May 19th Made/Copy.

Additional documents:
Clarinda A. Curtis. 16 years old May last.
Samuel B. Curtis. 12 years old Dec next.
Joseph N. Curtis. 8 years old Aug last.
William F. Curtis. 6 years old July last.
Charles G. Curtis. 4 years old Dec next.
One yoke of oxen - 80.00
three cows. 90.00
House and lot. 300.00
24 sheep. 100.00
cooking stove.
100 bushels wheat.

Lyman's response:
Territory of Utah, Great Salt Lake County. In the Probate Court fore said County Oct 1856. Now on this 25th day of Oct. 1856 comes Lyman Curtis and complains upon his oath and says for cause that sometime in the monty of May last his wife Charlotte A. Curtis applied to the Judge of the Probate Court for said County for a Bill of Divorce from said complainant, which was subsequently granted to her on the ground that he the said Lyman Curtis had left the Territory of Utah, and that he has not provided for her the necessaires of life for some length of time and that she had no assurance that he the said complainant ever intended to return to his family again, all of which he says was not true as he is ready to verify.
And complainant further said that injustice was done to him in the disposition of the children and in the division of the property by the Decree of the Court on the investigation of the case for which cause he asks that the court aforesaid [unreadable] consider the case and hear the witness he has and can provide in relation to the same so far as the disposition of the children is concerned and the division of their property and that the custody of the children may be given to him and such portion of the property as justice may demand when the true position of matters and the facts in the case are fully made to appear. Lyman Curtis.
Sworn and subscribed to before me the 25th day of October 1856. E. Smith, Probate Judge.
Complaint of Lyman Curtis? in the matterr of rehearing the case, C.A. Curtis vs Lyman Curtis. on Petition for Bill of Divorce.

Final decree:
Territory of Utah, Court of Salt Lake Couty. In the Probate Court for said County. Lyman Curtis vs. C.A. Curtis. On Petition for Division of Property. The Defendant Charlotte A. Curtis will take notice that Lyman Curtis has filed in the office of the clerk of the Probate Court within and for said County a Petition asking for a reconsideration of the case of Charlotte A. Curtis vs. Lyman Curtis which came on for hearing in the Probate Court aforesaid in the Month of May 1856, so far as the disposition of the children and property belonging to them is concerned, which petition has been granted and Monday the 27th of October [unreadable] has been set for reconsidering the case as [unkown] for, on which day you are hereby notified to bre and appear, at the clerks office in the Council House in Great Salt Lake City at 2 oclock P.M. to show cause why such urther order should not be made in relation to the property and children of the said parties as justice may demand as alledged by the said Lyman Curtis was not done by the Decree of the said Court disolving the bonds of matrimony formerly existing between the said parties.
Given under my hand the 25th day of Oct 1856. E. Smith. Probate Judge. I have served this Writts by reading to Defendant the 27th of October 1856.

Lyman returned to northern Utah in 1859. After his five year mission, from 1854 to 1859, Lyman settled in Utah County as one of the pioneers of what was then called Pond Town. This area had its initial beginnings in 1776 when Father Escalante entered in the area. After the pioneers entered Utah, it was not until 1851 that it was settled by pioneers. In 1851, David Crockett and David Fairbanks, on assignment from Brigham Young, went south to help settle the Peteetneet ( later called Payson) area. The residents there felt the water allotment had reached its maximum, and so they did not welcome the newcomers. The two men went east and found a stream of clear sparkling water springing up from under earth banks in a wooded hollow. The Indians had named it ASummer Spring.@

The two men built a dam on the stream so that they could irrigate the soil and grow crops. The dam failed, but first Pond Town was established for a new settlement. Discord between the Indians and settlers caused the pioneers to remove to a fort for protection and safety. The following spring when Fairbanks and Crockett returned, the harvest was better, but the Indians still didn’t like the white men on their hunting ground so the families returned to the fort at Payson. In the summer of 1855 the land was bought by George Wilson and his brothers. They moved in and settled but more families were needed. In 1856 George Curtis, Lyman’s brother (and probably also another brother, Moses Curtis), joined the Wilsons as partners.

When Lyman returned from his mission in 1859, he was attracted by the sawmill there which had been built by his brother George in 1856. He bought it and moved his family there. With the help of William C. McClellan he rebuilt the mill. At first they undoubtedly lived in the fort which his brother George and the Wilson’s brothers had built between 1856 to 1858. A grist mill, a store, a tithing office and storage buildings were also built. By 1864, the population stood at 20 inhabitants. In 1865 a plot was laid out for permanent city building lots. Each block contained five acres of land and the streets were six rods in width. That same year, Lyman felt the area needed a more dignified name. He suggested the name Salem, after his hometown of New Salem, Massachusetts. The name Salem meant the “City of Peace” and so the name Salem was adopted. In 1870 the fort was finally completely abandoned and gradually torn down. The pond continued to be the focal point of the town and supplied culinary water and ice in the winter for ice houses, but also became the recreation center, with boating, fishing, skating, and swimming.

After going over the ground carefully, Lyman, with his brothers George and Moses, saw the possibility of taking a canal out of the Spanish Fork River, and by so doing thousands of acres of land between Spanish Fork and Payson could be irrigated. At first no one was interested, but Lyman made a map showing what could be done and took it before the District Judge at Provo and the right was granted. He and his two brothers worked alone all winter at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. Some days they would work all day and then the wind would blow and fill the ditch with sand. They worked with the crudest implements, whatever they could get, short handled, square pointed shovels, picks, hoes and even buckets. Just before the canal was finished a man came in from California and brought a long handled, rounded point shovel. All the workers laughed at him, calling it a "lazy man's shovel".

By the next season they had generated enough enthusiasm that people from Payson, Spanish Fork and Pond Town joined in. The Curtis brothers were not trained surveyors, and two or three times the laborers lost faith in their work and demanded that a surveyor with suitable instruments should be called. Once, County Surveyor Davis of Provo came, and after going carefully over the canal grade, told the men that everything was all right. But to the brothers he said, "it is a mystery to me how you can carry through a piece of work like this with only a spirit level and other instruments of your own make." At first it was made to have a high dam. Later, with their water level, they put the dam half a mile further up the canyon. It is worthy of mention that one reason for this was to make it so fish could get over it and go on up stream to spawn.

When it was completed, the canal was two feet deep, eight feet wide at the bottom, and twelve feet at the top. It was seven miles long and irrigated 2000 acres. The land under the canal was laid out in five and ten acre pieces and each man could draw lots according to the work that he had done on the canal.

Lyman became an accurate surveyor with an improvised transit and a home made water level in laying out roads and canals. Although his schooling was rudimentary, he was a man of great practical ability. He was successful as a lumberman, a colonizer, a builder, and especially as a farmer. He always had the latest and best in farm machinery.

Lyman married for the second time on 26 JUL 1862 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah to Sarah Wells HARTLEY.

When they first moved to Utah, bear and wolves were said to be plentiful. Once Lyman and his brother Moses were up Loafer Canyon getting tanbark. A bear became a nuisance and kept getting into their food. At last they conceived a plan to get rid of it. George Curtis's wife Emma had made some cheese. She put a little liquor in it to make it "keep", put it in an earthen jar and put it under a stack of hay to press it. One of the brothers walked back to Emma's in Payson and came back with a piece of this cheese. Three logs were brought to camp and laid side by side. The middle log was raised and a monster figure 4 put under it and baited with the cheese in a sack, tied firmly to the point. The bear smelled it, went in, and pulled. Down came the log and he was caught under it, but so terrific were his struggles that he was about to get out. Moses ran and caught him by the hind leg and yelled for Lyman to bring the axe. The bear was quickly dispatched and the meat was shared around the community.

Lyman was married, and sealed for the third time, on 19 JUN 1872 to Adeline ANDREWS.

About 1879 Lyman assisted in the settlement along the Price River in Castle Valley of Carbon County. He surveyed the first canal in Price.

Lyman died 3 (S13)(6?) AUG 1898 at his home in Salem, Utah County, Utah. He was buried on 7 AUG 1898 at Salem, Utah County, Utah.

Charlotte ALVORD. [Ancestors].
Charlotte was born 25 September 1815 at Lockport, Niagara County, New York; daughter of Thaddeus Alvord and Sally Wellington.

CHILDREN of Lyman CURTIS and Charlotte ALVORD:
  1. Julia CURTIS. Born 7 May 1835 at Liberty, Clay County, Missouri. She was baptized in AUG 1847. She married 17 MAY 1853 Alonzo Hazelton RALEIGH in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. She was endowed and sealed to her husband on 6 MAY 1846 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. She died 6 FEB 1891 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah; and was buried in the City Cemetery there on 8 FEB 1891. [Their daughter, Mary Blanche RALEIGH, born 27 JAN 1857 in Salt Lake City, married 2 MAY 1880 Helaman CAMPBELL, son of Jonathan CAMPBELL and Lucinda SHIPMAN. Lucinda, then a widow, settled with her sons Helaman and Jonathan in Rosette in Box Elder County, Utah. Helaman and Mary lived on the Dane Spring’s Ranch west of Rosette, and at least some of their children were born there. (S24).
  2. Ammon CURTIS. Born 12 June 1837 in Caldwell County, Missouri. Source 13 says that he was born 12 JUL 1837 at Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. This is in error, however, since they were indeed living in Caldwell County at the time and did not move to Quincy until 1839. Ammon died 22 JAN 1839 in Caldwell County, Missouri.
  3. Thaddeus CURTIS. He was born 28 MAR 1839 at Quincy, Adams County, Illinois and died there 25 APR 1839.
  4. Adaline (Adeline) Clarinda CURTIS. Born 16 MAY 1840 at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois. She was baptized 1 JUN 1849. She married Peter Mack Elliott on 1 February 1857 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. She is also said to have married George G. CARSON. She died 22 January 1899 in Salem, Utah County, Utah and was also buried there.
  5. Henry CURTIS. Born 29 FEB 1842 in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, and also died there 27 AUG 1842.
  6. Samuel Bent CURTIS. Born 9 DEC 1844, at La Crosse, La Crosse County, Wisconsin while the family was getting timber for the Nauvoo Temple. When 15 he went on Ben Holiday's Division of the Overland Mail. Drove ox teams to Carson City, Nevada, delivering supplies to the mail stations. At age 20 he drove back to Missouri after immigrants. Was a member of the minutemen in the Salem area. Married (1) 1867 to Lucinda STEWART in Springville, Utah County, Utah. He married, and was sealed, (2) 20 JAN 1873 to Susan Lucretia GARDNER in Salt Lake. Married, and was sealed to, (3) 27 DEC 1878 in the St. George Temple, St. George, Washington County, Utah to Ellen Elizabeth GARDNER. Settled various places in Arizona. He died 9 APR 1937 at San Jose, Graham County, Arizona and was buried 11 APR 1937 at Thatcher, Graham County, Arizona.
  7. Thomas CURTIS. Stillborn in 1846 in Nauvoo. (It has also been said that he was also born in Wisconsin, but Nauvoo or even in Iowa are more likely).
  8. Joseph Nahum CURTIS. Born 9 AUG 1848 at Keg Creek, Pottowattomie County, Iowa. He was baptized in OCT 1856. He married (1), and was endowed, 17 JAN 1870 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah to Sarah Diantha GARDNER. He married (2) 24 MAR 1881 in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah to Marilla GARDNER. He died 26 JUL 1925 at St. David, Cochise County, Arizona and was buried there 28 JUL 1925.
  9. William Frederick CURTIS. Born 14 JUL 1850 on the plains of Nebraska, near the Platte River. He married 24 DEC 1872 at Richfield, Sevier County, Utah to Sarah Alice HIGGINS. He was baptized 17 JAN 1873. He died 3 MAY 1928 at Provo, Utah County, Utah, but was said to have been buried 6 MAY 1934 at Salem, Utah County, Utah.
  10. Charles Grandison CURTIS. Born 16 DEC 1852 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. He married 1 JAN 1872 to Eolia Virginia KILLIAN. He was baptized 28 MAR 1872. He died 8 MAR 1946 at Thatcher, Graham County, Arizona, and was buried 10 MAR 1946 at Eden, Graham County, Arizona.
  11. Orson Elliott CURTIS. He was born 7 MAR 1857 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. He married Ellen ATWOOD. [This doesn’t make sense. Who were his parents?]

Sarah Wells HARTLEY.
Born 10 or 16 AUG 1837 at Sheffield, Yorkshire, England; dau. of Samuel HARTLEY and Eliza GILL. She married (1) Richard V. SOPAR. She came to Utah on 30 NOV 1856, coming across the plains in one of the handcart companies. The company of which she was a member suffered more loss, greater privations and hardships than any other. About two hundred members lost their lives en route to Utah.

She married (2) Lyman CURTIS [F34a] on 26 JUL 1862 in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. She died 12 JUL 1921 in Salem, Utah County, Utah and was buried 17 JUL 1921 in Salem.

CHILDREN of Lyman CURTIS and Sarah Wells HARTLEY:
  1. Sarah Lucina CURTIS. Born 22 MAY 1863 in Salem, Utah County, Utah. Md. Robert SNYDER.
  2. Eliza Jane CURTIS. Md. Jerome DURFEE.
  3. Millicent CURTIS. Born 16 JUN 1867 at Salem, Utah County, Utah. Md. James E. SMITH.
  4. Emma Cornelia CURTIS. Md. Chas. HANKS.
  5. Josephine Matilda CURTIS. Died 1872.
  6. Asa Lyman CURTIS. Born 3 FEB 1877 at Salem, Utah County, Utah. He grew up in Salem and attended school there. Md. 28 DEC 1903 to Annie B. LITTLEWOOD. He was a doctor in Payson.

Adeline (also possibly Adaline or Adelia) ANDREWS.
She married Lyman CURTIS on 19 June 1872-3.



Lyman Curtis and Charlotte Alvord
[NOTE: We are not related to Lyman Curtis, but we are related to Charlotte Alvord through her second Husband, Peter Mack Elliott]
Charlotte Alvord and Peter Mack Elliott
Harriett Louisa Elliott and James Newberry Morris
Tina Matilda Kunzler and  Eli Ray Morris 
LeGrand Elliott Morris and Dorothea Berta Ernestina Kersten
Rodney Allen Morris and Deborah Lee Handy