Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ira A. Oviatt 1804 - 1868



Kirkland Elders Quorum Record:

Ira OVIATT (1804-1868). Born at Busling, Rensselaer, NY. Blacksmith and carpenter. Resided at Kirtland 1840-1842. Moved to Nauvoo. Elder endowed in Nauvoo Temple Feb 1846. Served on high council of Council Bluffs, IA 1846-1851. Migrated to UT 1851. Settled in Farmington, Davis Co, where he lived until his death.

Ira Oiatt in Nauvoo:

2010 Ira Oviatt in Nauvoo from K on Vimeo.

There is a controversy as to where the Oviatt Family first originated. A genealogist found the family in the Province of Oviader, Spain, in the year of 904 A.D. Tradition has it that the marriage of an Austrian Princess to a Spanish King brought a family member into Spain in her train and that another marriage brought the Oviatt family to Normandy where they were living in 1000 A.D. They entered England with William the Conqueror in 1066.

The family settled around in the counties of England and around Hertfordshire and in Buckinghamshire. Our branch was in Hertfordshire almost on the border with Buckinghamshire.

It is certain each century has brought many changes in the spelling of the name, until there are many families in England who have different spellings of the name, all originating from the parent family of Normandy. A Genealogical Dictionary of New England and the Genealogy of Northern Pennsylvania lists all the following ways of spelling Oviatt: Oyador, Oryat, Ovet, Ufit, Uffiat, Uffet, Oveat, Ovut, Oviedo, Oryatt, Oviat, D'Oviatt, and Oviatt.
The emigrant ancestor Thomas Oviatt (4), was born about 1626 -- Christened 16 July 1626 -- at Tring, Hertfordshire, England, to Thomas (3) {John (2), John (1)} and Alice Bryan {Thomas (2), Robert (1)} Oviatt. His mother Alice died about 6 months after his birth. Thomas married Francis Bryan, daughter of Robert (4) {Robert (3), Robert (2), Robert (1)} and Bridget H. Bryan, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England. They had long desired to emigrate to America to join his relatives. Alice Bryan, mother of Thomas Oviatt, was a sister to Alexander Bryan, of Melford, Connecticut. They were the children of Thomas Bryan and his second wife Francis Bowling. Francis Bryan, wife of Thomas Oviatt (4), was the great-granddaughter of Robert Bryan (2), brother of Thomas Bryan and son of Robert (1) Bryan and Joanne.

Thomas and Frances Bryan Oviatt finally emigrated to America. They may have taken a ship to the West Indies, as many emigrating to America did, there to await a ship of Alexander Bryan, Thomas's uncle who was a very wealthy ship owner of Milford, Connecticut running ships to and from the Indies.

Thomas's and Francis's eight children were all born in Milford, Connecticut where they settled: John, Ester, Amy, Frances, Samuel, Abigail, Thomas and Dorothy.
Records state that Thomas (4) was one of the wealthiest citizens of his day. On 15 September 1665 he witnessed a treaty between Ockenuga, a Sagamore Indian, and Richard Baldwin of Milford. Thomas visited England again, for on a return trip he brought a letter dated 30 August 1684 from a Mrs. Susanna Garment to relatives in Milford. This letter is now in an antiquarian collection in Connecticut. Thomas must have visited his father or arrived shortly after his death in England. In 1686 there was a record of a widow Oviatt in the area and Sylvester Baldwin (a relative) sued for the right to take over the fiefhold of Thomas Oviatt (3), deceased. Sylvester was a descendant of Thomas Bryan also. Thomas Oviatt died at Milford 25 May 1691. The date of his wife's death is not known.

Thomas Oviatt (5), son of Thomas and Frances Bryan, born 20 August 1670, married at Milford 7 June 1705 Lydia Kellogg, widow of John Clark. She was born in Norwalk, Connecticut 1 April 1676, a daughter of Daniel and Bridget Bouton Kellogg. Thomas and Lydia were the parents of eight children: Thomas, Frances, Joseph, Abigail, Amy, Giles, Benjamin, and Samuel. The family moved to New Milford, Connecticut, about 1724. Thomas died 13 January 1741 at New Milford and Lydia died 4 July 1742 at New Milford. Their last child, Samuel, was born at New Milford.

Benjamin Oviatt (6), son of Thomas and Lydia Kellog, born in 1722 at Milford, married 17 April 1744 at New Milford Frances Warner, daughter of Ebenezer Warner and Martha Galpin. Frances was born February 1728 in Litchfield, Connecticut. They were the parents of eight children: Amy, Frances, Elisha, Japheth, Naomi, Benjamin, Ebenezer, and Tamer, all born at New Milford, Connecticut. Benjamin died 1 September 1791 in New York State. The date of Frances' death is not known. He is listed as a property holder in Berlin, Rensselaer County, New York in 1760's. Very little is known about his family, although, one son, Ebenezer, was a Revolutionary War soldier who died in Allegany County, New York. Another son, Benjamin, and his family were in Canada for some years.
Elisha, son of Benjamin Oviatt and Frances Warner, born 3 August 1752, married 27 January 1777 Mary Barber, daughter of Daniel and Naomi Barber of Harwinton, Hartford County, Connecticut. She was born 12 October 1758 and they were the parents of ten children: Francis, Sally, Benjamin Franklin, Naomi, Daniel, Elisha, William, Polly, Patty and Japheth (fem.). Elisha died 3 April 1831 at Scio, Allegany County, New York. Mary died 27 January 1833 at Scio also. He lived in Rensselaer County, Madison County, Dutchess County, and Allegany County all in New York State. He seemed to be a "Mover".

Benjamin Franklin (8) Oviatt was born 16 August 1783 at Berlin, Rensselaer County, New York. He died 18 July 1864 at Hornellville, Steuben County, New York. He married 5 March 1804 Francis Sweet, daughter of William Sweet and Patience Maxon. She was born 18 September 1782 at Berlin, New York. She died 10 June 1836 at Amityville, Allegany County, New York. They were the parents of six children: Ira, William Sweet, Francis Congdon, Joseph Beamon, Elizabeth, and Martha. He then married Sally Bagley and had two other children: Mary Ann and Adoniram Judson (named for a famous Baptist minister).
Benjamin Franklin, along with his brother William, were Circuit riding Preachers for the Baptist Church. Benjamin's route has been ascertained as Northeastern Ohio, Southwestern New York, and Northwest Pennsylvania. Records of the marriages he performed have been found recorded in these areas.

Benjamin Franklin Oviatt helped to found the Baptist Church at Smethport, McKean County, Pennsylvania. In 1846 a letter received by Ira Oviatt said his parents had been seen by his mother-in-law Mary Slafter Bennett in New York State.

The regular Baptist Church goes back to 1820 when it was founded by settlers from Norwich, New York. The earliest recorded history of the Smethport Baptist Church began in 1824 with the Reverend Benjamin F. Oviatt as Pastor and William Philo Beach and William B. Wilcox as leading members of the church. The Smethport and Norwich churches were under one pastor. It is interesting to note that a direct descendant of Reverend Oviatt was, in 1951 a student for the ministry at the Baptist Seminary, Johnson City, New York. He was Raymond Oviatt, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Oviatt of Smethport. The Baptist Church in Smethport celebrated its 100 anniversary in January 1951 and one of its first trustees was W. S. Oviatt (William Sweet Oviatt).

Ira Oviatt (9), son of Reverend Benjamin F. Oviatt, Circuit Preacher of New York, was born December 8, 1804 at Berlin, Rensselaer County, New York. Ira had been raised in a strict Baptist home and it must have been a great sorrow to his parents when he wanted to become a blacksmith. For some time they refused to let him do it, as blacksmiths were considered undesirable men. Ira was taught the carpenters trade and worked with his father to let him learn the blacksmith trade, never realizing how important it would be in helping the Mormon pioneers. Finally his father gave his consent on condition he would train under one who did not indulge in the "hilarious" cup. At length one was found living in Smethport, Pennsylvania and his father consented to Ira learning the blacksmith and wheelwright trades.
While working there he met and married 29 September 1829 Ruth Fellows Bennett, at Burtonville, Montgomery County, New York, a school teacher who was also living and working away from home. She was the daughter of John "T." and Mary Slafter Bennett, and was born 28 September 1808, at Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York. Three children were born to them while they lived there: John Franklin, Henry Herman, and Sarah Jane.
They heard the Gospel preached in the year 1839 by Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, and A. R. Kelsey, and joined the church at that time. They entertained the Elders in their home many times and were taught the Gospel truths. They desired to go to Missouri to be with the saints, but on the way heard of the expulsion of the Mormons from the state and therefore stopped in Kirtland, Ohio for about four years.

They bought two city lots, one near the river and the other near the Temple, and here they made their home. Sometime in 1842 they moved to Nauvoo, living across the street from the home of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ruth Bennett Oviatt told her grandchildren many times of sitting on her doorstep or in her rocking chair and listening to the Prophet preach to the people in his front yard. When the wooded country was cleared to build houses, a large stump was left in the Prophets front yard and when people came to him to talk with him or for advice he would mount this stump as a group would always gather when he began to talk and sometimes he would speak for hours at a time. His voice was clear and distinct and he could be heard across the street with ease. No matter what their task, they would be ready to stop and listen and would feel his influence as soon as they heard his voice. When Joseph and Hyrum were tarred and feathered by the mob they came to the Oviatt home and obtained clothing to put on before going home. The staunch testimony Ruth and Ira had of the Prophet Joseph Smith from living near him greatly influenced their grandchildren to remain steadfast in their testimony of the Gospel.

Ira was baptized while at Nauvoo by Silas S. Davies in 1840. While at Nauvoo he was also ordained to the office of an Elder, April 1844 by Elder Williams, President of the Elders Quorum.

When the Saints started from there for the West in 1846, Ira and his family went with them as far as Winter Quarters in Council Bluffs. He was so proficient at his three trades and such an expert wheelwright that her was called by Brigham Young to remain at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to outfit the wagons of the pioneers for crossing the plains. Otherwise he and his family would have been in the first company to enter Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

From the records of minutes at the Historian's Office in Salt Lake City we read: "Monday, August 24, 1846: Near Mosquito Creek. Very pleasant morning. Dr. W. Richards stayed at the home of Ira Oviatt, 27 March 1846. The weather was pleasant, mild but cool, at Winter Quarters. President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Pheneas Young and Thomas Bullock crossed the Missouri River from Winter Quarters for the purpose of attending the Council meeting in Millers Hollow (Kanesville)."

"At 12:40 o'clock the meeting was called to order in the Log Tabernacle. Brigham Young was elected chairman and Evan M. Green, secretary. The following prominent citizens were present by invitation". (About seventy men's names were listed as being present and Ira Oviatt's name was listed among them).
The Whig credentials were presented and addresses given by some of the Whigs of Iowa in which they reviewed at some length the persecutions heaped upon the Saints in Missouri, the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and other leaders in Missouri and Illinois. Deception and treachery of the 'Loco Focos' heaped neglect, abuse and persecution upon the Saints and deprived them of their civil and religious liberties. A number of short talks were given and a preamble and resolution were adopted, "Uniting our votes with the Whigs of Iowa as the democrats had not kept their promises."

The April 6th Conference was held at the same place -- Log Tabernacle, Miller's Hollow, Iowa. Ira Oviatt was sustained as a High Councilman in Pottawattami County, Iowa. Ira was ordained a High Priest and a member of the High Council by James Allred, President of the High Council, September 1846 at Council Bluffs (Winter Quarters), Iowa.
Ira and his family remained in Council Bluffs for five years until 1851. Lewis and Mary were born there, their two youngest children, "on the way to the wilderness", the record reads.
In 1848 Henry Herman (10), their second oldest son, as he had not learned the blacksmith trade, drove a team for Heber C. Kimball into the valley of the Great Salt Lake, then returned and came in with his own family in 1851.

Ira Oviatt, his wife and family, crossed the plains to Salt Lake City in 1851. A large company came at this time which was organized June 10, 1851, with Captain Eli B. Kelsey captain over all 100 wagons, Isaac Allred over 50, Ira and others over 10 wagons each. The groups were organized in this way for their own help and protection. Ira and his family had four wagons, seven yoke of oxen, and six yoke of cows.

One hundred wagons assembled with occupants. They traveled to the East bank of the Missouri River and crossed to the West bank. On June 20 they came to a large river, the Elkhorn, which was very high for that time of year. Roads were bad and rocky. They made a bridge of material from the woods intending to cross the river the next morning. The rains came down in torrents during the night. Water ran under their wagons, washing frying pans, buckets, etc., away that were tied hanging from the wagons. Also, the bridge was washed entirely away. They followed the river a ways and were able to cross more easily at another point.
The rains still came down in torrents with thunder and lightning. Two men standing by the stove were knocked down by the lightning, but none were killed. In one place on their way the sand was so deep and wind blowing so hard that the sand blinded them, making traveling very difficult. Another river they encountered, which was 10 rods wide and 10 to 12 inches deep gave considerable trouble because of the quick sand in the bottom. When they came to the Platte River a message came from President Orson Hyde telling the companies to return back to Six Mile Grove as some of the Mormons ahead had had some trouble with the Indians. Some did not want to go back, but at last decided to heed council, and were very thankful after that they had.

At one time a squaw and several Indians came into the camp and wanted five beef, saying they were very poor. The Mormons said "We are very poor also. You stay with us tonight and we will feed and shelter you," which they did. The Indians handed their bows and arrows over to the Mormons for the night. The Mormons fed them a good supper, gave them a night's rest and breakfast the next morning and returned their bows and arrows to them, and the Indians went on their way content.

The company came to a large herd of Buffalo, stopped long enough to kill some and dry the meat. They saw some Indians doing likewise. On the way fifty head of their cattle wandered away, causing much concern until they were found and returned. One time a dog knocked over a tub of dishes, which caused a stampede. They were thankful that the animals were soon brought under control.

Ira had several milk cows that were milked night and morning and the cream carefully saved in a bottle. The bottle was hung on the back of the wagon to jolt and churn all day. By night camp time the family would be quite certain of butter. During the journey the Allred Company put up a flag and hoped to have a dance, but Captain Eli B. Kelsey said that it would be against counsel and persuaded them against it.

Ira Oviatt's son, John Franklin Oviatt (10), crossed the plains. Shortly before they reached Laramie, Wyoming he had to pull his wagon out because his wife was having labor pains. Left alone John Franklin was frightened when he saw some Indians coming his way. He put a red flag out which meant Small Pox to frighten them away. Shortly after they left his first child was born, a daughter. He then drove into Laramie and rejoined the column.
They arrived near the mouth of Emigration Canyon October 5, 1851, and remained there in camp for a week. Ira with others, walked down into the Valley the following day in order to attend Conference.

The family lived in Salt Lake for a few months. A group was called by Willard Richards to go to the North Cottonwood Creek in Davis County to make mill irons for the grist mill they were preparing to build. Ira's was one of the first families sent. They stopped at what is now Centerville until March 22, 1852, and made irons for the Cherry Mill and did blacksmithing there. Then Ira and family moved to Farmington, Davis County, living first in an adobe house east of Oscar Mayfield's and close to the flour mill which was being built. He made irons for this mill. Next, they moved a block west on the west bank of the Cottonwood Creek in a 1 1/2 story adobe house. Ira built himself also a blacksmith shop on the main road.

Sunday wa a strict day of rest in the home of Ira and Ruth Oviatt. Saturday night the children were all bathed ready to be dressed in their best on Sunday morning. Then they would all gather around and listen to the teachings of the Gospel and Bible stories from their mother. Having been a school teacher, Ruth was well qualified to teach them. Soon they invited other children into their house to be taught the Gospel stories, for they did not like to see them playing ball and other activities on the Sabbath Day. From this originated the second Sunday School established on the Utah Territory in the spring of 1852. It was first held in their home and later held in a log school house which had been built in the fall of 1840 on the bank of the North Cottonwood Creek about two blocks south of their home. The first school house built in Farmington in 1850 was used as a place of worship and other public gatherings. A few years later it was purchased by Ira Oviatt and moved farther north near the same creek, and used as a blacksmith shop.

In 1855 the family moved about one mile south and two blocks east on the property across the street south of where their daughter Judith later lived and their shop was on the street one block east. Printed in the Deseret News from minutes taken of the quarterly Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Davis County Branch of the S. A. & M. Society held at Farmington, July 6, 1863, we read: "At the fair to be held on Friday and Saturday, September 25 and 26, 1863, Ira Oviatt is to be one of the judges on Farming and Tools".
Ira Oviatt married into polygamy Nancy Maria Whitlock, a sister of Mary Jane Whitlock who married John Franklin Oviatt and Sally Ray Whitlock who married Henry Herman Oviatt, all daughters of Andrew Hyrum Whitlock and Hannah Carline Allred. The two men were sons of Ira Oviatt.

The marriage between Ira Oviatt and Nancy Maria Whitlock was dissolved shortly afterward and she then married William Beal.

Ira died in 1868 after which Ruth Bennett Oviatt sold the place and built a room on their son "D"'s home where she lived until she died August 15, 1893 at the age of 84 years. The funeral was held in her home.
Ruth Oviatt was a tall woman with black snappy eyes and a quick temper, the very opposite in temperament to her large good-natured husband. She had a great love for flowers and always had a beautiful flower garden. Everything she planted seemed to grow. In order to keep the children and chickens out of the garden she would build a fence made from twigs and willows. They owned a few sheep and the wool from them was washed in home-made soap, corded and spun into yarn, then woven into cloth for use of her family or to sell.
Ira and Ruth Oviatt were the parents of nine children: John Franklin, Henry Herman, Sarah Jane, all born in Smethport, Pennsylvania; Zera and Willis Murray, born at Philpsburg, New York; Judith in Kirtland, Ohio; "D" born in Nauvoo, Illinois; and Lewis and Mary at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Sara Jane, Zera and Willis Murray died before they left Nauvoo, Illinois.
The information for this history was obtained from the Deseret New, July 15, 1868; from Genealogy and minute records of Farmington; from pioneers and prominent men of Utah 1847-1858; from Church minute records, Salt Lake City; from Church emigration file; from Smethport newspapers; from Genealogical Dictionary of New England; from Genealogy of Northern Pennsylvania; and family records and histories of the Oviatt family, by a granddaughter and a great grand-daughter, Judith Oviatt Welling, and Maurine Cotterell Parry.
Edited by Geneva M. Wilding