Abraham Brown & Harriett Amanda Sheldon are my 4th great grandparents through my maternal or Naylor side of the family tree. Abraham also went by the name Abram at times probably to distinguish himself from his father. Their lives spanned a period of time from the early 1800’s to later part’s of the 1800’s. They were both born in Vermont and died in Utah.
Abram as he was called, was born on 21 August 1808 in Londonderry, Windham, Vermont. He was the 3rd child of Abraham B and Atta(y) Brown. Atta’s maiden was was Auston.
Harriett Sheldon is the daughter of William and Hannah Sheldon. Hannah’s maiden name is Baker. Harriett was born on the 18 August 1806 in Andover, Windsor Vermont. At this time I have not been able to locate a birth record for Hannah but only supporting documentation from her children and census records.
The couple was married on 26 March 1834 in Simonsville, Andover, Windsor Vermont. Simonsville, in many places is referred a neighborhood today and is lumped in with Andover. At the time Abram and Harriett married it could have been a town of it’s own, but has since gotten swallowed up by Andover. They had 7 children: Harriet Amanda (1835), Newell Abraham (1837), Bryon Welman (1839), Austin Milton (1841), Orin Clinton (1842), Helen Genett (1845) and Leveret Wesley (1847).
The first of their seven children, Harriet Amanda Brown was born in Andover, Windsor, Vermont in 1835 and the remain 6 children where born in Kirtland, Lake, Ohio.
We don’t know exactly when Abram and Harriett moved to Kirkland, Ohio. It was probably between the birth of Harriet Amanda and their 2nd child Newell Abraham. In the 1840 census for Kirkland, Lake Ohio we see that they had 3 children under the age of 5.
The details on their conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints is not know. However on FamilySearch Memories for Hannah Barker Sheldon there is a story that says, “Somewhere between the years of 1830 and 1838, two Mormon ministers came into the south part of the town and began holding meetings in private houses. They professed to work miracles; to heal the sick, to cause the lame to walk, and the blind to see. Their new and peculiar doctrines naturally awoke the curiosity of the people and their meetings were well attended. Several were converted to the new faith, and closing up their affairs here, went to Ohio (probably to Kirtland) where the converts were rendezvoused.”
Church records indicate that Harriet join the church on the 25 June 1832 at the age of 24, and that Abraham Brown join the church on 1 May 1853. I suspect however that he was associated with the church much early. It is interesting to note that both the Prophet Joseph Smith and the 2nd Prophet of the church after Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, Brigham Young, was also from the same general area of Vermont.
Jared Carter was one of the first missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in Vermont. He taught and baptized 27 convert. Maybe he was one of the missionaries Harriett first listen to before joining the church in 1832.
The couple moved to Kirtland, Ohio about 1837, their son Newell Abraham Brown was born 19 November 1837 in Kirtland, Ohio. While living in Kirtland, Ohio the rest or their children were born: Newell Abraham, Bryon Welman, Austin Milton, Orin Clinton, Helen Genet and Leveret Wesley.
Shortly before their arrival the Kirkland Ohio Temple for the church was dedicated on 3 April 1836. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the Brown family to be living in this area, with this majestic building that would have been out of place for the area.
As persecution increased in the area upon the members of the church and the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, I wonder what the conversations would have been between Abram and Harriet about keeping their family safe and following the counsel of church leaders and migrating West to the Utah Territory. I imagine it would be much the same type of conversation a husband and wife would have today if they were presented similar problems. The choice they made is evident as we see them join the Isaac Bullock Company in Kanesville, Iowa.
The couple lived in Kirtland for about 15 years before joining the Isaac Bullock Company in Kanesville, Iowa (present day Council Bluffs) as they migrated to Salt Lake City Valley in the Utah Territory. They left Kirtland, Ohio about 1 April 1852 and arrived in Kanesville, Iowa in time to join the company. The first members of company began arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on 21 of September with the last ones in the group the 3 October 1852. It is reported in various stories that the Abraham, Amanda and family arrived about the 3 October 1852. Counting from the time they left Kirtland, Ohio until they reach the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, they would have been on the road for about 6 months.
When they left Kirkland, Ohio it appears they took very little with them. In the company roster it is reported that they had 1 Wagon and 2 oxan to carry their supplies. There is not much that you can carry in one wagon. They probably carried food, water, bedding, shelter and maybe some family herlums. As we will see would be starting all over again in Salt Lake Valley.
In that 6 month trip, the family travel about 1,748 miles, that equate to traveling about 10 miles per day and that is if you took the modern day route I-80 West. There were do paved road at that time but there were trains and steeboats. We don’t know how they got to Kansville, Iowa, it may have been by a cobmination of rail, or steam boats or they could have just walked. We do know that from Kanesvill to the Salt Lake Valley it was on foot.
It is reported that the family didn’t stay long in Salt Lake City but quickly moved to Lehi, Utah where they took up a 5 acre piece of land, dug a cellar, covered it with willows, straw and dirt for a place to live. Lumber to build structures wasn’t readily available so they made do with what they had. After the dirt cellar was finished they went to work, putting provisions aside and doing odd jobs to get them through winter.
On October 4, 1856, Brigham Young learned that over a thousand people in two handcart companies would be arriving late in the season, he began a rescue effort to help bring the saints in. It involved hundreds of men, teams and Wagons. Abraham Brown and his son Newel Abraham Brown were participant in these rescue missions.
As Abraham and Harriet aged, their daughter Amanda, my 3rd great grandmother, who first married Oscar Tyler in 1854 and then Peter Neilson in 1873, urged her parents to move to Southern Utah, the Saint George area, where weather was milder. Their son Bryon Welman Brown built them a comfortable little house on his lot in Lehi where they lived the remainder of their days.
Harriet died on the 18 July 1883 at the age of 77, loving the gospel of Jesus Christ. Abraham lost his sight and on the 23 April 1891, at the age of 83 he joined his bride.
Their lives are an example to all us, of there devotion, willingness to sacrifice, and as a testimony to their love and beliefe in the Savior Jesus Christ. May we alll take some time it think upon their lives and see if we match up to them and their devotion.
- “Vermont, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 132-2005,” database with images, FamilySearch, , Image 452 of 787; citing various town clerks and records divisions, Vermont. ↩︎
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young office enigrating companies 1850-1862, 17th Company of 50 report, 1852. ↩︎