A Sketch of the Life History of

Isaac Hill


NOTE: The following history of Isaac Hill is taken partly from a handwritten sketch, written by Stella J. McElprang, a granddaughter, and partly from Isaac’s personal journal/diary. Since a microfilm copy of the actual journal/diary now exists at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and a transcription has been made, the following history will include only some of the journal/diary entries. The object of this history is to provide some interesting information that does not appear in the journal/diary itself. In compiling this history, some discrepancies, especially with names, dates, and places, have been noted. Future research will be needed to determine the veracity of the information given.

                                                                                            --Terry Smith, second great grandson, 1991

Isaac Hill was born September 28th, 1806 in Brighton, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of John Bill and Nancy Warrick, daughter of Isaac Warrick and Mary Thatcher. Two other children were born to this family: Nancy, born on August 20th, 1804, and John born on September 10th, 1810.

At the death of Isaac’s father in March of 1810, the family moved in with Isaac’s Grandfather Warrick, and apparently stayed there for about eight years. On May 9th, 1818, Isaac’s mother married William Moon and the family moved to East Liverpool, Ohio.

In East Liverpool, Isaac was bound to a Mr. Hays to learn the blacksmithing trade. He used this trade as well as brick making for the rest of his life.

Isaac married Mary Bell on the 7th of June, 1828, probably in East Liverpool. Mary was borne March 17th, 1806 in Crawford, Pennsylvania. Isaac and Mary had four daughters: Nancy, born April 4th, 1828 probably in East Liverpool; Elizabeth, born February 14th, 1830 also in East Liverpool; Lucinda, born July 13th, 1832 possibly in Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois; and Mary born December 12th, 1834 in Kirtland, Ohio. Isaac and his family had apparently moved to Beardstown and were living there when they joined the Mormon Church in August of 1833.

There is an account of Isaac’s joining the Church in the biography of Lorenzo Dow Young (father of Brigham Young), found in the Utah Historical Quarterly, volume 14, 1946, pages 42-43. The following is taken from there:

“About 10 miles above Beardstown (Cass County, Illinois ?) the Youngs tied up their boats for the night and circumstances induced them to remain there a few days... . The Youngs continued their journey, but on arriving at Beardstown, Persis, the wife of Lorenzo, who had been quite sick for some time, was so ill it caused them to stop at this place indefinitely.”

“The people came to see them, soon learned they were Mormons, and expressed a wish to hear them preach. The morrow being Sunday, the Elders Young proposed to preach if a house could be furnished for the purpose. Mr. Isaac Hill, since Bishop for several years of the Second Ward of Salt Lake City was then a citizen of Beardstown, and through his kindly offices the school house was opened for them. After the first meeting the people desired more teaching and in a few days five persons were baptized, among whom were Mr. Isaac Hill, and Peter Shirts, both since well known to many of the people of Utah.”

In October of 1833, Isaac bought a part of a city plot in Kirtland, Ohio and built a log house on it. In April of 1834, he moved there with his family, and helped to work on the Kirtland Temple.

In the fall of 1834, Isaac went on his first mission for the Church in company with Evan Green. Where they went, or for how long, is not known, but he was apparently again in Nauvoo in March of 1835. Mary, Isaac’s wife, became quite ill that month and was administered to by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Isaac says that Joseph “performed a great miracle on her” but she finally died of the illness on the 1st of September.

As Isaac worked on the Kirtland temple and was living there at the time, he probably attended its dedication. He mentions school being held in the temple in February of 1836 and that Hebrew was taught. Whether he actually attended this school is not known. In April of 1836, he married Eliza Wright (or Kite) and the family started to Missouri with an ox team.

In the fall of 1836, Isaac and his wife Eliza, settled on some land on Steer Creek near Far West, Missouri. On February 22nd, of 1837, Eliza gave birth to a 14 pound child, but it died. Isaac and three other men worked at digging the foundation for a temple in Far West but the temple was never built.

By September of 1838, the number of Mormon families in the area around Far West had grown quite large and was continuing to increase daily. The growing strength of the Mormons aroused the jealousies of their enemies. Night riders began to harass outlying farms and fighting erupted. The State Militia was finally called out to exterminate the detested Mormons. Isaac was apparently at this time chosen as a special body guard to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Several events relating to Church History are mentioned in Isaac’s journal but whether he actually participated in them or just knew of them is not known.

In November of 1838, Isaac makes note of the Mormons in general having to leave their property and flee for their lives.  He also mentions making several trips during the winter to Daviess County for provisions to help the poor and needy.  According to family tradition, on one of those trips he apparently had to swim through a river that was very cold and full of ice chunks. After leaving the river, he ran through a cemetery and hid in an open grave to escape from the enemies who were after him. As a probable result of his exposure to the cold in his wet clothes, a severe spell of rheumatic fever followed.

In February of 1839, Isaac sold his farm on Steer Creek for a horse, and in March, he and his wife Eliza, and four children left for Illinois. They stopped in Quincy where Isaac built a log cabin for them to live in. On July 30th, a son, William H., was born “very sickly in Nauvoo”. Isaac mentions moving near Commerce and stopping till spring, and then moving to Commerce or Nauvoo in March of 1840.

In 1841, Isaac helped work on both the Nauvoo House and the Nauvoo Temple. He also mentions working at his trade of brick making and enjoying good health and prosperity during that summer.

On March 9th, 1842, Isaac was ordained a Priest and then on April 8th, he was ordained an Elder. He left for a second mission for the Church that summer. He was apparently on a steamboat on the way to his mission in Pennsylvania, when it sunk somewhere on the Ohio River. Miraculously, he escaped drowning and continued to East Liverpool, Ohio where he commenced to preach. He mentions preaching in Beaver County, Pennsylvania in January of 1843 and baptizing his first converts. He returned home to Nauvoo in April and began again his trade of brick making.  Isaac’s brother, John, worked with him that summer and they did quite well. Isaac built an addition to his home and mentioned giving “to the poor”. That winter he mentions some excitement on account of the doctrine of plural marriage.

Isaac may have been at Carthage Jail in 1844 trying to help fight off the mob when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered. He apparently succeeded in rescuing one John Smith and taking him home. After Joseph was murdered there was much sadness, fear, and confusion among the Saints.  Isaac mentions this in his journal.  In December of that year, he was ordained a High Priest probably by Isaac Higbee, and then made a counselor to Bishop Lewis in Nauvoo.  In January of 1845, Isaac said that he received his endowment.

Family tradition indicates that Isaac was at the meeting when Brigham Young’s calling to lead the Church was attested to by “heavenly manifestations”.  Isaac makes no mention of this in his journal but he does state that Brigham Young took the place of Joseph Smith.  He also mentions Sidney Rigdon being “turned out of the Church”.

On March 24th, 1845, Isaac and Eliza had a son born in Nauvoo. His name was Isaac. He lived only a few months and died on what appears to be August 20th. That summer and the next were apparently spent mostly in the blacksmith shop helping to prepare to leave Nauvoo. Isaac says that “all is confusion now in Nauvoo” and that the Mormons finally agreed “to leave the state”.

Isaac’s brother sent him forty dollars in cash in May of 1846 and Isaac bought oxen with it.  He and his family left Nauvoo “for the wilderness” on June 7th. On August 10th the family started across the plains. They suffered many mishaps and hardships along the way including the birth of a son, Lamony (or Larmony) on December 14th, and his death on May 2nd, of 1847. Lamony was probably buried in Florence, Nebraska.

Isaac mentions farming, fishing, blacksmithing, and brick making for the next couple of years in various places. Apparently the family did not go straight to Salt Lake, but rather worked their way there. On May 30th of 1850 he and Eliza made the final start of the journey to the Great Salt Lake Valley. In June, Isaac says that the “colry”, probably meaning cholera, broke out in their train (possibly the Captain Hooper Company) and on the 1st of July, Eliza died of it. She was buried on the plains and Isaac and his children entered Salt Lake City alone on the 4th of September.

After entering the Salt Lake Valley, Isaac’s daughter, Elizabeth was married to a J. Kite--family records say Joseph Helon or Isaiah Helon Kite--on October 12th of 1850. During childbirth on August 20th of the next year she died. The baby was a girl, Emily, and she lived. In February of 1852, Joseph Kite apparently married Elizabeth’s sister, Lucinda.

March of 1851 saw Isaac building a home in the Second Ward of Salt Lake City. He was chosen as second counselor to Bishop Joseph C. Kingsbury of the Second Ward of the Salt Lake Stake (later changed to Liberty Stake). He served first as second counselor and then as first counselor of this ward.

On October 28th of 1851, Isaac married for a third time. This time was to Martha Ann Miller, daughter of James Miller. On the 21st of February 1852, Isaac and Martha Ann Miller were sealed in President Brigham Young’s office. At that time, Isaac was also sealed to his deceased wives, Mary Bell, and Eliza Wright. A year later, on October 27th, 1852, he was married in polygamy to Mary Jane Miller, sister of Martha Ann. This marriage was also sealed on that date in President Brigham Young’s office.

The following children were born to Isaac and Martha Ann:

Caroline, 16 January 1854, in Salt Lake City.

John, 29 November 1855, in Salt Lake City.

Cynthia Ann, 2 December 1857, in Salt Lake City.

The following children were born to Isaac and Mary Jane:

Elizabeth, 22 September 1853, in Salt Lake City.

Jacob Brigham, 6 Aug 1855, in Salt Lake City.

Isaac, 25 Jun 1857, in Salt Lake City.

Eliza Homer, 3 January 1860, in Salt Lake City.

Samuel Robert, 12 January 1862, in Salt Lake City.

Ella Margaret, 21 January 1864, in Salt Lake City.

Joseph Young, 19 March 1866, in St. Charles, Idaho.

Sylvia Annie, 14 May 1868, in St. Charles, Idaho.

Emmeline Martha, 7 April 1872, in St. Charles, Idaho.

Hyrum Smith, 8 August 1874, in St. Charles, Idaho.

Isaac was ordained Bishop of the Second Ward on December 28th, 1854 and served as such for ten years. He was the third bishop of this ward. On the 9th of April, 1857 Isaac was called to go on his third mission, this time to Canada. He apparently had a leave of absence as Bishop during this mission. Before leaving, Isaac took Martha and Mary, his two wives, to the Endowment House and they were both sealed to him “over the altar in good faith” on April 21st, 1857.

Isaac kept a near daily journal of his mission to Canada. He left Salt Lake on April 23rd, 1857 and returned on June 21st, 1858. The entries provide quite an insight into this mission experience.

Upon returning to Salt Lake, Isaac found that things were not well with his marriage to Martha Ann. An earlier entry in his journal, under the date of October 7th, 1856 , before his mission, states that Martha’s mother had tried to persuade her to leave him and that she had gone to President Brigham Young for this purpose, but was refused. After returning, on August 6th of 1858, Isaac says that Martha left home and took her children and went “to her mother and then commenced to lie and misrepresent me to give herself excuses for her wickedness.” Isaac and Martha were divorced on September 17th, 1858.

One of the last entries in Isaac’s journal is that he settled the tithing of his ward in March of 1859. He also states there that he moved to Bear Lake on September 5th, 1864.

Genealogical research shows that Isaac was sealed to Amelia Arkartha Rassmussen on December 13th, 1862 by C. A. Smith in the Endowment House. He was also sealed to Margaret Faulkner on December 5th, 1863 by H. C. Kimball also in the Endowment House. Isaac’s journal lists a son, Charles, being born on September 17th, 1863. This was probably the son of Isaac and Amelia. Amelia and this son, Charles, later left Isaac during the harsh winter of 1864 in St. Charles, Bear Lake, Idaho. No record of children of Isaac and Margaret has been found.

Apparently Isaac had a very strong faith in the healing power of the Priesthood and the influence of the Holy Ghost. He, in company with other Elders of the Church, was often called into the homes of the Saints to administer to the sick and afflicted. A story of one such occasion occurred while Isaac was serving as Bishop of the Second Ward. An evil spirit had manifested itself in the community and had been going from house to house, taking possession of one of the members of each particular household. Isaac and Brother John Chase were called to administer to the ones thus possessed. For three days and nights these faithful Elders followed the evil spirit from house to house, being led by the Holy Ghost as to where to go next. Finally, they rebuked the evil spirit by the power of the priesthood which they held and in the name of Jesus Christ, and demanded that it leave the man and the community. The man immediately calmed down and began to weep. This incident helped to build the faith and testimonies of all who heard of it.

In September of 1864, as mentioned above, Isaac and his wife Mary Jane and other members of the family, left Salt Lake City in response to a call from President Brigham Young for them to go and help in the colonizing of the Bear Lake region of Idaho. They went to St. Charles, Idaho which is near the north end of the lake, and took up residence. The trials and hardships they had to endure while living in Salt Lake City were nothing in comparison to what they met in this new territory.

NOTE: Isaac’s journal/diary as mentioned above, ended with the note that he moved to Bear Lake. A partial account of his life and activities in the Bear Lake Valley is related in the life sketch of his wife, Nary Jane Miller, written by her granddaughter, Stella J. McElprang, from family memories. A brief outline of Mary Jane’s life up to the time of her marriage to Isaac, and the rest of this sketch, comes from that account.

Mary Jane Miller was the daughter of James Miller and Sarah Searcy (or Surcey). She was born January 9th, 1832 at Beards, Montgomery County, Illinois. Mary Jane was 10 years old when she joined the Church. The date of her baptism is given as October 10th, 1842.

Mary Jane’s father, James Miller, is believed to have died at Nauvoo, Illinois while working on the temple. Isaac’s diary mentions a James Miller who died there on March 12th, 1841. The Miller family was supposedly living in Nauvoo at that time.

Mary Jane and her mother, Sarah Searcy, a widow, were married in polygamy to John Hopwood Blazzard, March 30th, 1846, at Winter Quarters. (If these dates are correct, Mary Jane would have been only 14 years of age.) President Brigham Young performed the marriage ceremony, with Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards as witnesses. To this union of John Blazzard and Mary Jane, two daughters, Sarah and Mary Ann, were born. The latter, Mary Ann, died when she was about two years of age from the effects of ill-treatment received from her father. Mary Jane became very angry and resentful toward her husband because of his outrageous temper and of his mistreatment of her children and herself, and she finally left him. She received a divorce from him on January 31st, 1850.

As noted above, Mary Jane married Isaac on October 27th, 1852 in polygamy with her sister, Martha Ann who had married him a year earlier. Both Martha Ann and Mary Jane were sealed to Isaac at the time of their marriages in President Brigham Young’s office as this was before the Endowment House had been completed. After its completion however, President Brigham Young requested all those who had these sealings performed to go to the Endowment House and have them performed there also. Accordingly, Isaac took Martha Ann and Mary Jane to the Endowment House on April 9th, 1857 and had them sealed to him just before leaving on his third mission for the Church.

As Mary Jane and Isaac left for the Bear Lake Valley in September of 1864, they had quite a large group. In addition to their own five children, they also had Mary Jane’s daughter, Sarah (Blazzard); Martha Ann’s two children, Caroline and John, who had by this time been left by their mother with Isaac; and also Isaac’s wife Amelia and their son, Charles.

After arriving in Bear Lake and settling in St. Charles, Isaac had expected to go back to Cache Valley for a load of flour and other provisions for their winter use. But before he could get affairs arranged to leave on this trip, a very heavy snowstorm arrived and made it impossible to get a team and wagon out of the valley. The family had very little food and faced a severe Bear Lake winter.

Isaac and the two young boys, John and Isaac, did manage to get some logs hauled and build a one room cabin before the heavy snows of winter arrived. A fireplace was built in one end of the room and this was used for heating and cooking. The one room cabin was not large enough to accommodate all the family, so the wagon box was pressed into service as an extra bedroom. Elizabeth and Caroline slept in one end of it and the two boys, Isaac and John, slept in the other end. Rocks heated in the fireplace were wrapped in burlap and placed in the bed of the wagon box for added warmth. An old carpet was placed over the top of the bedding for extra protection.

Isaac’s wife Amelia and their son Charles, who had accompanied the family to St. Charles, stayed with them for a short time. However, after finding how crowded the living conditions were, and the dire circumstances the family had facing them, Amelia left and took her son Charles with her. Mary Jane wasn’t at all sorry to have her go, as the two had not gotten along together.

When the family first arrived in St. Charles, there was a lot of tall wild grass growing on the bottoms of Bear Lake. Isaac and the boys cut and stacked enough of this wild grass to feed their two horses and cows for the winter. Some campers, however, came along and a spark from their campfire caught in the stacks and burned them to the ground. The heavy snows arrived before any more grass could be cut, and the family had to wade through the snow all winter trying to find enough food for the animals. They spent a lot of time looking for firewood for the cabin as well.

About February, when the lake was frozen over, some men came from the east and did some ice fishing. Isaac and Mary Jane had never seen this before, but after learning how, they started fishing every day and the fish became a regular part of their diet. Mary Jane did most of the fishing as the children were busy with firewood and grass foraging. Isaac had been subject to rheumatism and arthritis for years and he could not stand the exposure of the cold weather and ice.

The next summer was not much better for the family. Crops and gardens were planted but a terrible scourge of crickets or grasshoppers came and nearly destroyed everything. Some dry peas and frostbitten turnips were about the only things saved. Isaac’s rheumatism prevented him from making a trip to Cache Valley, and the food situation for that winter was not much better than the one before. However, they did manage to get enough wild grass cut and stacked to feed the animals. Also, they were able to build another room on the cabin and get some firewood hauled for the winter. Another help to the family was a small business enterprise they had. The family would cut willows from the lake bottoms and make brooms. At first, the brooms brought a dollar each, but after Elizabeth discovered a better way to make them, they managed to get a dollar and fifty cents apiece. This extra money helped immensely with provisions for the winter.

In St. Charles, Isaac and Mary had another four children born to them. After Isaac and Mary Jane’s last child, Hyrum Smith, was born, the family moved to Fish Haven, Idaho. Isaac bought a farm, and he and the boys built a two room log house for the family to live in. Isaac’s rheumatism finally became so bad that he could only walk with the aid of a cane. Even with this handicap, Isaac still walked to Church on Fast Sundays to bear his testimony to the truthfulness of the Gospel.

Isaac passed away on June 25th, 1879 at Fish Haven. He was taken to St. Charles for burial.

In the summer of 1880, Mary Jane and her three youngest children, who had not yet married, and several other of her family members, accepted the call from President Brigham Young to go and help colonize the section of Utah that is now known as Castle Valley. The company they were in left Bear Lake and traveled by ox team and wagon to Huntington, Utah in Castle Valley.

Mary Jane and many of her family continued to live in Huntington until the spring of 1892. As her health was failing, she decided to go back to Fish Haven and finish her life there. In Fish Haven, she bought a small farm joining the one owned by her daughter Margaret, and her husband Thomas Smith. Mary Jane’s son Hyrum, built a two room log house there for her and cared for her until her death on February 5th, 1896. Mary Jane was also taken to St. Charles to be buried with her beloved husband, Isaac.