Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pioneer Children

Today we celebrate Pioneer Day. And so in church today the theme of the talks were 'Pressing Forward'. We often hear this phrase when speaking of our pioneer ancestors. What great strength, dedication and faith they must have had for their cause. I feel forever indebted to the Mormon pioneers for the sacrifice they made not too long ago.

For Christmas this last year, Owen's parents gave us some great family history books. Owen's family is amazing at compiling his family history. These books had stories, pictures, time lines and so many details about his ancestors, many of them being pioneers. Side note: This is why journaling is so important. Anyways, we got these books for Christmas and I finished reading them that night. They were so interesting to me.

It started to make me wonder about my own family tree. I went on to (it is a family search/tree site from the LDS church) and created an account. My entire family tree popped up. It shows names, birth/death dates, marriage/sealing dates...basically a ton of information. The internet really is amazing. I compared mine and Owen's family trees and this is what I found:

Do you see it!? The names highlighted in red...we share the same great grandparents!! I was honestly in shock when I saw that, what are the chances!? This made the books I had read even better, since it was my family I was reading about too. I knew we both had ancestors from Snowflake, AZ, but I did not realize it came from the same great grandparents, Jesse Nathaniel Smith and Emma Seraphine West. Who knew that Owen and I are long lost cousins :)

Below is some information about our (mine and Owen's) great grandparents that came from these amazing books. They were truly pioneers and I am grateful to my ancestors. Especially these two people since Owen OR myself would not be around if it wasn't for them :)

Jessie Nathaniel Smith was the third child of Silas Smith and Mary Aikens. Silas Smith was a brother to Joseph Smith Sr., father of the Prophet. Jesse Nathaniel's father and mother joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1835 and 1837 and were baptized by Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They first lived in Kirtland, Ohio then moved with the Saints to Missouri and then to Nauvoo, Illinois. They had three boys, Jesse Nathaniel being one of them. When all the Saints were expelled from Nauvoo, Illinois in 1846, Jesse Nathaniel's family crossed the plains in Parley's Company and arrived in the Sale Lake Valley in September 1847. In 1851, the family was advised by Brigham Young to go to Parowan, UT and assist in establishing that community. It was in Parowan, UT that Jesse Nathaniel met Emma Seraphine West (the first of Jesse's five wives) and were married then sealed on May 13, 1852 by Apostle George A. Smith.

Jesse Nathaniel and Emma Seraphine had 8 children together. In 1878, Jesse Nathaniel was asked by the President of the Church to preside over the new Eastern Arizona Stake of the Church, which would include the Mormon settlements in northeastern Arizona. He would need to take his family to live and help build Zion in that area. They were called to pioneer again and establish a new community in Snowflake, Arizona.

In October of 1879, Jesse Nathaniel, Emma Seraphine West, Augusta Outzen Smith (another wife) and nine childern started out in three wagons all loaded with household needs and provisions. They had six horses, two mules and two cows to help pull the wagons. At the time of this move, Jesse and Emma were nearing middle life. They had made such a permanent beginning in Parowan. They owned a comfortable home for that day, and had to leave many friends and relatives. They left Utah on April 6, 1880 and arrived in Snowflake, AZ on May 22.

Jesse Nathaniel and Emma settled and raised their family in Snowflake, AZ. He had a total of 5 wives and 44 children. In 1884, he was assigned to a committee for the church to purchase land in Mexico for Mormon colonization. He also served as the first Stake President of the Eastern Arizona Stake from 1879-1887 and as the first president of the Snowflake Stake from 1887 until his death. In 1882, he predicted that a temple would be built in Pima, Arizona. Now, the Gila Valley Arizona Temple is being built, which is between Pima and Thatcher.

Pioneer : One who goes before to prepare or open up the way for other to follow

I hope to follow in our ancestor pioneer's faithful footsteps.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Owen and Alyssa: Love, love, love your blog! Emma Seraphine West Smith was the sister of my second great granmother, Nancy Malinda West Rollins. I am also from California, but live in Texas now. If you send me your email address, I can email you pictures of other West family members from my records. My email address is I also have a profile on a website called, and here is a link to that: There is a lot of information about the West family there. Here is a link to my second great grandmother, the sister of your ancestor:
    Best Regards, Della Dale Smith, your cousin!