Friday, January 29, 2010

Autobiography of James Tucker (1836-1925)

Written at age 87 (1924)

My parents names were John Tucker and Susan Blackmore. My father was born at High Brey, Devonshire, England in 1812; my grandfather, James Tucker, was born at Goodleigh, Devonshire, England, November 7, 1767*

I was born in the Parrish of Eastdown, Devonshire, England, July 22, 1836. My wife, Betsy Lerwill Tucker, was born at Kentisbury, Devonshire, England, July 20, 1838. Her father, William Lerwill, was born at Eastdown, Devonshire, England, August 18, 1806; her mother, Mary Rawle Lerwill, was born at Kentis¬bury, Devonshire, England, April 14, 1812.

Up to the date of August, 1859, I had investigated eight different forms of worship, all claiming to be the correct plan of salvation and instituted by Jesus Christ; this was proof to me that their teachings did not agree with Divine Record, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. After listening to two discourses delivered by Mormon Missionaries, explaining the scriptures and doctrine of Jesus Christ, I was filled with a desire to make further investigation and to gain positive proof for myself. I petitioned my Heavenly Father, and in that prayer, I quoted James, 1st chapter, verse 5, and I received my answer* At the end of thirty days I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In April, I860, the year following, myself and companion and two other persons emigrated to America on the ship named Under Writer. We were five weeks crossing the great Atlantic, landing at New York. From there we travelled by boat and railroad to Florence, Nebraska, or the "Outfitting Place" as it was here we made preparations to continue our travels across the plains to Utah.

Our company consisted of Richard Fry and wife, Ann Rawle Fry, and myself and wife, Betsy Lerwill Tucker. We purchased a wagon and two yoke of oxen, and two cows. The oxen names were Buck and Sam, Tip and Tyler.

Our entire company consisted of thirty wagons, and our captain was J. D. Ross. Our journey from Florence, Neb. to Utah took eleven weeks. The distance travelled each day varied from twelve to twenty miles. The health of the company was good. Every one was congenial and sociable; the entire trip was remarkable. We arrived in Salt Lake in September. I think it was the 11th of the month.

My wife and I resided in Salt Lake until the spring of 1862, when we moved to Morgan, Morgan County, Utah. I purchased a farm consisting of forty acres and commenced to till the soil and learned to raise the things upon which to exist.

Our first home was built of cottonwood logs, the roof of the house was of lumber covered with dirt. Our lights were made with a button and a rag set in a saucer of fat.

In the fall of 1864 after giving birth to our second child, my wife was afflicted with a severe sickness, and her spirit left her body for 36 hours, but through the power of the Priesthood she was restored to her health and strength. She was the most of 12 children, ten girls and two boys. All are living at this date. I have 76 living grandchildren and 11 that have passed to the Great Beyond; also 45 great grandchildren.

We purchased a lot in Morgan City and built a brick house upon it. It was one of the first brick homes to be built. The brick were manufactured by Charles Turner and Co. Nails were 40£ per pound, and the price of everything else was high.

My first plow cost $21. 00, and was made from the tires of Uncle Sam's wagons that were burned at the South Pass at the time Johnson's Army was sent to punish the Latter Day Saints, but all these things proved a benefit to the Saints, and the establishment of the things proclaimed by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Our lot and farm was in an uncultivated condition, but when properly cultivated produced everything to our satisfaction. In 1869, we were visited by grasshoppers in such vast numbers that the sun was hidden from our view. In many instances entire crops were destroyed by them. One season, we obtained only one kettle of potatoes, our entire crop being destroyed, and only 300 bushels of grain were raised in the whole valley. In 1870, a general fast day for the entire Stake was called to petition our Heavenly Father for assistance. Our prayers were answered and we were given help in many ways, but do we remember it today?

When I first came to Salt Lake City, I worked at my trade which was a cord-winder or maker of shoes. In the first 6 months, I did not receive one dollar in cash, nor store goods, but was paid in produce and other things that were manufactured; but we were entirely satisfied with our conditions. My wife with many others were compelled to gather wild fruit, and also to make our garments from the wool of the sheep. Our first herd of sheep was five in number, but we increased them until we had sufficient for our use.

I helped construct the first brick school house at Morgan, and have assisted in building all those since,

I was distributor of water for irrigation purposes for 12 years and the only compensation received was “thank you.” I was also school trustee for twelve years with but little remuneration. Brother Richard Fry and myself plowed the first irrigation ditches in Morgan City, the same are used today. I was County Commissioner for one term, and County Treasurer two and one-half terms, and have worked in many other public positions.

I was ordained a Priest in 1859; ordained an Elder by J. V, Long in the Endowment House in I860; ordained a Seventy in the fall of 1861 by Elder Phipin. I was selected as scribe for the members of the Seventies, and when the 35th Quorum was organized was ordained one of the seven Presidents. I continued to act as secretary for the quorum until released by council on account of advanced age. I was then ordained a High Priest and was appointed scribe for the quorum. I was then selected to act as Genealogical Representative for the Morgan Stake and filled that position with satisfaction for four years. After the death of President William Hemming of the High Priest Quorum, Olaf B. Anderson was chosen President and I as one of the Councilors, which position I occupied for some time. I was released from this position on account of the extensive work I was doing at the Temple,

I have continued to labor for the benefit of the sons and daughters who have passed from this mortal existence into the Life Immortal to await the Resurrection Day, I have labored continuously for a long time and have gathered a great many thousand names and have performed duties for six lines of relatives.

I am 87 years of age. Yours in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, James Tucker,

And I also desire to add to my previous record, the following testimony that of the truthful evidence of the power of the priesthood and of Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, which has been restored in this day and generation in which we now live. I desire to repeat the following time and condition that of my wife at the time when her spirit separated from her body for the space of thirty-six hours, and during that period of time she did sing twice and she declares that she was reluctant to return and enter her body of flesh and continue her mission. It was predicted by the elders that she would not pass from this life, neither did she. This was a testimony of the power of the priesthood of the Eternal Father given unto the sons and daughters in the flesh which we may obtain through obedience to the Eternal Laws of the Father.

Many times has the power of the Priesthood been made known unto all present in the healing of the sick members of my family. I will refer to one instance when I was afflicted with appendicitis. The pain was so severe as to cause drops of perspiration from my body continuously. At that time the elders were called for the purpose of petitioning the Father and the performance of the ordinance of administration in my behalf. The Elders called were Robert Hogg and Richard B, Fry. The scaling of the anointment was by Brother Robert Hogg and in the name of Jesus Christ he rebuked the pain and said that it should leave my body, and it was affirmed and the pain ceased from that moment unto the present time of writing. This must be attributed to the power of the priesthood after the order of the Son of God. There are personal witnesses now who can testify to the truthfulness of this statement. Many other times has the power of God, the Eternal Father, been made manifest in and through the power of the priesthood conferred upon the sons of God in the flesh.

There will be one other testimony I wish to relate. The Prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed that some individuals were fore-ordained for some attainments previous to our earthly tabernacle in the flesh and bone, and also has President Wilford Woodruff made the same statement. In April, 1894, on the morning previous to my departure for a mission to Great Britain, Patriarch Evan Richards came from Round Valley to Morgan at an early hour in the morning for the sole purpose of giving me a blessing, this was uncalled for by myself or any member of my family, and he predicted that I should go in peace and return in safety, and I would labor in the Temples for the salvation of the dead, and that I would receive direct communication from the spirit world, and I desire to affirm that to be true as the sun gives light through the clouds and that darkness does follow it.

In conclusion I desire to add to the foregoing record, that in the year 1861, I continued to work at my former trade, that of cord winder. I arranged and placed together some of the equipment for theatrical performances, such as boots and fancy slippers made from sheep skins, also the yellow and red leather placed before the entrance at the home of Henry Bowering,

Our entertainment consisted of dancing mostly. The Quadrille being the most popular dance. After our dances commenced at 4 o'clock in the afternoon,

I also desire to add that I have been interested in gathering genealogy of my forefathers. In 1889, I visited my aged mother, Susan Blackmore Tucker, and since that time have worked along this line. Having gathered information of my relatives back to the year 1511, and I am still continuing this work. We have obtained over 9000 names. 8000 of which have been officiated for, and recorded in the Temples of the Lord.

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