John Halmagh was born September 1, 1811 at Wanaque, Pompton Township, Bergen (now Passaic Co., New Jersey, son of Halmagh John and Mary Van Houten Van Wagoner. He was a very
___________ and ambitious person. By trade he was a carpenter, cabinet maker, mill wright, wheel wright, and skilled mechanic. He married five women, and from these marriages had nineteen children.
    His first wife was Eliza Smith, who was born September 15, 1815, at Newark, Essex Co., New Jersey. They were married 24 September 1835 and sealed November 29,1889. Eliza had two children: David, born 18 July 1836, and Mary, born March 25, 1840 at Pompton Plains, Morris, New Jersey. Eliza died 13th of July or September 1840, while her children were very young, leaving John to care for them.
    He met Clarissa Tappen in Pompton, New Jersey. Her parents were George Tappen and Sarah Drew. Clarissa and John Halmagh were married December 21, 1841, by a Dutch reform Minister by the name of Doolittle. After they came to Utah they had their endowments performed on November 11, 1865, in the Endowment House, Salt Lake City. They first heard Mormonism at a meeting in Meads Basin near Pompton, New Jersey. They were baptized in 1843. Shortly after they moved to Nauvoo. While in Nauvoo they helped in the activities of the Church. They were acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and his wife, Emma. Tradition says that Clarissa visited the prophet’s home frequently. Before leaving New Jersey they sold their property. They gave $500.00 to the Church as their contribution to help finance the immigrants.
    They moved from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters which was on the west bank of the Missouri River. They returned to Iowa to secure an outfit with which to continue the journey to Salt Lake Valley. At Honey Creek, Iowa, John Halmagh built a grist mill. While there, a son, Ephraim, was born December 22, 1844. On April 28, 1847, a girl named Hester was born. This was during a period of great hardship and persecutions for the Saints. John, the third child, was born September 13, 1849, at Pottawattomie County, Iowa. When three years old he crossed the plains with his parents. A daughter, Ann, was also born April 22, 1852, at Council Bluff, Iowa.
    Little Hester became very ill and died. Her father made a casket of shingles and her mother made her clothes. With sad hearts they laid her to rest under a chestnut tree.
    In the meantime, John Halmagh’s father and mother, who had accompanied them to Winter Quarters, became ill with cholera and died. His mother died October 4, 1846; his father in January, 1847. There were 600 of the Saints who died of the disease at that time. This was during the year 1846-1847. John Halmagh and his brother-in-law, John Fairbanks, made coffins from their wagon box and laid them to rest at Winter Quarters.
    Before leaving New Jersey, they sent many of their belongings with Samuel Brannan around Cape Hope to San Francisco, California. Included was a small grist mill John Halmagh had made. The goods were to be transported to Salt Lake. They never saw any of these things again.
    Clarissa said that they were often very weary from traveling, but when the evening meal was over and the children were in bed, they sang and danced. Her favorite song, "Come, Come Ye Saints" gave them the courage that no other song did. It buoyed them up until the journey’s end. They arrived in Salt Lake City September 20, 1852, in Captain David Woods’ Company.
    While in Salt Lake, John Halmagh was employed in making furniture for President Brigham Young and for other members of the Church. He also helped with the work on the Lion and Beehive Houses and with the building of Eagle Gate.
    On April 7, 1856, he married his third wife, Elizabeth Young, in the Lion House. Seven children were born to them. They were: John Alfred, Elizabeth Ann, Parley Pratt, Mary Evelyn, Frank Douglas, Estella Jane and Lilly Maud. This family lived in Provo, Utah. On November 11, 1865 they received their endowments.
    His fourth wife was Agnas Millross, and his fifth wife was Zillah Player Allen. Neither of these last two wives had children.
    John Halmagh built flour mills at Fort Supply for Bridger; at Payson for Charles B. Hancock; at Provo for Joseph Hilton—(this was later known as the Tanner Mills)—at Mt. Pleasant, and one in Midway.
    In 1861 he moved his families to Midway to the lower settlement. It was here that he built the first grist mill in the county. He hauled the granite from American Fork, using two yokes of oxen. It was a long, slow journey with the heavy granite. He used hammer and chisel to carve the mill wheel and make it round. The same mill wheel is now on the top of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers monument in Midway.

    They lived in the fort at Midway when the Indians became troublesome. They took part in the building of the community they lived in, suffering the hardships along with the rest of the Saints, and sharing each others’ sorrows and joys as a large family. While living in Midway John helped build homes. At this time he paid one dollar and twenty cents a pound for nails. He built a home for President Hatch at Heber. He also made the furniture for this home. John furnished his wives’ homes with furniture he had made.
    On several occasions he furnished oxen and wagons to bring immigrants from the Missouri River to Utah. He not only designed and made furniture but he also built many wagons.
    John Halmagh and his sons, David and Henry, were musicians. John Halmagh and David furnished music for dances in the early days. He made musical instruments called the dulcismer.
    He was a friend to the Indians. They would do anything for him. He was a kind, good father to his families, and a good neighbor. He was a member of the High Priest quorum and died faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on 29 June 1886, at Provo, Utah, where he is also buried.
    Clarissa’s home at first was a log room with an attic above. She had many mouths to feed and did this by cooking her meals on a griddle bake oven, and by hanging kettles over a fireplace. Food was scarce but the boys helped by catching fish. She had six children born after arriving in the Valley. They were Cynthia, William, Clarissa, Henry, Orson (who died in infancy), and George. She sewed and worked by candle light. Sewing was all done by hand.
    With all the hardships she never complained. She was always jovial and happy. She had a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and never complained or said a word against plural marriage. It was hard for her to live it, but she said, "If that principle of the Gospel isn’t right, none of the rest is." She taught the Gospel to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was a loving, kind mother and neighbor. She was hospitable and charitable. Clarissa was a noble character, and the life she led was a sermon unspoken.
    Clarissa had an addition built on her home and when she was left alone, her son, George, and his wife, Eve, moved in part of the house. She did her own housework until a short time before her death. Her mind was keen to the very last. She enjoyed living. She lived to be 90 years, two months and ten days old. Clarissa was born 4 November 1824. She died January 25, 1915, after a short illness, and was buried in the Midway cemetery.

Genevieve Van Wagenen

John Halma had five wives,
John Halma had five wives,
Hi, Ho, Van Wagenen’s—Wagoner
John Halma had five wives.

He was quite a man,
Yes, he was quite a man,
As you all can see
From this Van Clan.

John took a pretty bride,
The first one by his side,
Her name was Eliza Smith,
Her name was Eliza Smith.

David was their son--
Their one and only son.
He spelled his name with "EN"
So we have Van Wagenen.
When Eliza Died,
John took another bride.
Clarissa Tappen was her name,
Clarissa was her name.

Large families are a blessing,
As in that early day,
So to this union
Ten children came to stay.

John chose another wife,
The third in his heaven,
Elizabeth Young her name,
They had children seven.

However you spell your name,
With an "E" or letter "R"
You are one of the Van Clan
We’re mighty glad you are


(The very young can learn their genealogy and have a greater appreciation of their ancestry, if they will sing these words to a popular nursery tune. Note: as John Halma’s fourth and fifth wives had no children, their names were not included in the song.)

    Sung by the Hawkins sisters: Cosette, Yvonne, Francine, and Sherri, for the Van Clan reunion at Fairmont Park, August 13, 1966. They were accompanied by their mother, Miriam Van Wagenen Hawkins. They are the great-great-great grandchildren of John Halmagh.

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