JAMES HENRY AND HANNAH VAN WAGENEN SMITH
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Aside from his birth on the 16th of
March, 1805, at Littletown, Morris county, New Jersey, the first incident in the life of
James H. (Henry or Horace) Smith was when he was playing in a band that went to Delaware
Bay to greet La Fayette as he returned to the United States to participate in the
celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The
band was so excited that it marched right into the water as far as it could and still keep
on playing. The boy carrying the bass drum held it up over his head standing in water up
to his armpits!
The next known record is of his marriage to Hannah Van Houten Van Wagenen (as she spelled it). Their first child was born in Newark, the next five in Pompton, two in Salt Lake, and the last three in Big Cottonwood.
In March of 1844 they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and made arrangements to go to Nauvoo. There has been a great deal of speculation about the disposition of a sheepskin deed to a large amount of property in northern New Jersey, at this time. The family is recorded as arriving in Salt lake on September 12, 1847, with the Jedediah Grant Company. They were in the 4th ten of the second 50 of the third hundred.
James is said to have been the first choir director in the Valley. He walked a ten-mile round trip twice a week to rehearse the choir, and then did it again on Sunday to perform! In 1856 he was ordained a High Priest. It is in the record of this ordination that the middle name is given as Horace. Family tradition says it is Henry. In five censuses merely the initial is given.
Sometime soon after arrival in the Valley, James incurred the displeasure of Brigham Young for perhaps two reasons: trading with the 49ers and for not participating in plural marriage which, it is thought, Hannah would not permit, though there is a story that she "kicked him out" because he wanted to take another wife. Be that as it may, we know of no record that he ever did this. Halma said the Danites, Brigham Youngs bodyguard, threatened him, so he and his second son, Josiah, whose wife had just died, hid in a load of hay with their musical instruments and came to California. He went back to Utah several times to persuade his wife and family to come to California with him, but she would not come.
By the late 50s they had moved to Provo and were busy taking up homesteads, engaging mainly in farming, but also in building and running a brickyard, molasses mill, and sawmill. The following are some references in MEMORIES THAT LIVE .A CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF UTAH COUNTY:
"The Martial Band in pioneer days furnished music for the militia. John Smith, Shepard Smith, Joseph V. Smith, Cyrus (Josiah) Smith, and Halma V. Smith were among early members."
In 1858 an ordinance was amended regulating the selling of liquor. By this time the dispensing of liquor was steadily becoming a problem.. The license of James Smith and Company was revoked."
In a list of Provo Indian War Veterans from 1850-1868 James Smith was #32 in an unalphabetized list of 120. There is a story that James was an Indian interpreter. One time one of the chiefs asked for help to get home. "Whats the matter, Chief, are you lost?" James asked him. "Ugh, me no lost, me here, wickiup (Wigwam) lost!"
"A second sawmill also served the community of Pleasant View. The three Smith brothers, Joseph, Henry, and Ted built this one, floating logs down the river. They also took up Cascade Springs and after completing the task of securing Water (see the story of the Smith Ditch) for their land, raised choice fruits, grapes and watermelons. There was also land homesteaded by James Smith north and south on the extreme edge of the east side of the west Provo Bench in 1876."
"A molasses mill was located below the hill at the northeast corner of the Grand View Church. It was operated by James Smith."
There are stories of the Smith Band travelling to Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and California. They prospected during the day and played and entertained at night. Each boy had his specialty in addition to his music. Halma told fortunes by "casting horoscopes."
Halma told how they encountered a herd of wild boars in the Tehachapi Mountains between Bakersfield and Los Angeles on one of their trips. They were quite frightened and thought their end had surely come. Their father ordered them to stay absolutely still. This they did, and the herd separated and passed by them on both sides as if they werent even there! Not a one had a scratch! Another time, one of them poked some centipedes with a metal cane and received such an electric-like shock he couldnt let go of the cane.
A Joseph Smith, possibly James father, is listed as the only musician in a New Jersey Company during the War of 1812. He must have been the bugler! My grandfather, Halma, said his grandfather was a judge. All we have been able to locate is a Joseph Smith who seems to have been a clerk of the court in that he witnessed wills and took inventories of estates. So we have many index references that merely state this fact. This, in addition to the name of Smith to trace!
We are continuing to search for descendants of this couple. From the eight of their children we are at lease partially in touch with, there are over 500. Were still on the trail of the two for whom we yet have no contact. With the formation of a James H. and Hannah Smith Family organization on June 26, 1966, we are encouraged that much progress will be made. The heritage these two have left in blood, sweat, tears, smiles, love and faith, must be preserved. To this we their descendants, do dedicate ourselves.
CHARTER OF NAUVOO
By Hannah Van Wagoner Smith
Illinois legislation, it rules with gentle care accepted our petition,
answered well our prayers.
We have always had to wander as strangers it is true; till legislation granted us a charter for Nauvoo.
Missouri was distracted and harassed in her mind for fear the Mormon people a resting place should find.
But legislation, fearless of what the state could do, has granted us a favor and charter for Nauvoo.
Our city and its legions will be able now to stand and hold up our religion in spite of Satans band.
So Bretheren, now be faithful in what you have to do. Go build a house of God, and we will worship in Nauvoo.
Then we will ask our God to bless us, and our dear country, our city and its legions and university.
We will tthank Him for a Prophet, he has told us what to do; He gave us an inheritance and charter for Nauvoo.
Our city is delightful, also a place of rest, The poor may here find favor and all who are oppressed.
We have chosen us a mayor and alderman tis true, and officers sufficient to govern our Nauvoo.
Farewell to you our enemies. You hate without a cause; you have misused our people; despised God and His laws.
You choose to follow Satan, so in his paths pursue, but never come to trouble the people of Nauvoo.
Come all my loving Bretheren who are both rich and poor, Bring all your tithes and offerings and let your hearts be pure
Then like the Sons of Enoch, may we in wisdom grow, and live and ever flourish in the city of Nauvoo.
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