The John T. Whetten Family
Compiled by Blanche Whetten Peterson July 24, 1972
There is no written history of the beginning of the Whetten family story, only a few dates and stories told and handed down through the children and grandchildren. The pages of time are silent, but from these stories and dates we are attempting to organize a history of more than a century.
We know our progenitors were seekers of truth, stalwarts of faith and courage to have met the rigors and adversities of pioneer life. Some were caught in the Gospel net and came to Zion, others came for varied reasons to find newer and greater joys in living.
The life story of John Thomas Whetten had a beginning in England, an empire where royal blood and nobility were paramount. To those who knew John T. Whetten, a belief that he came from some royal line was easy. It could be said of John Thomas as the Lord said to Abraham of old in the Pearl of Great Price, “Thou shalt be a blessing to thy seed after thee." Abra. 2:9.
His mother, Sophia Atkins, left England with a company of Saints to sail for America when she was twelve years old. She had to endure many hardships and disappointments before reaching those of her family she was to join in America. Her mother, who was to join them later, passed away in England before Sophia could be reunited with her.
Sophia married John Whetten on May 21, 1861. He was also from England but he was not a member of the Church. John Thomas was born to them on March 7, 1862. When John Thomas was but two years old, his father passed away after a brief case of pneumonia on February 28, 1864. A baby sister also passed away at this time and was buried with her father in the same grave in a little settlement called Cross Plains, near the city of Madison in Dane county, Wisconsin.
Sophia’s father arrived from England and with him she lived several places, one of which was in a little settlement in Iowa where she lived with a family by the name of Huff.
She and her father joined the John Murdock Company that was traveling to Utah. Shortly after her arrival in Salt Lake City, she met James Huff, the oldest son of the family with whom she had lived in Iowa. Her relationship with the Huff family had been very pleasant so she was attracted to this good man. His former wife had left him.
Sophia and James Huff were married. James had a young son, Erastus Huff, the same age as John Thomas who was eight at the time. To this marriage was also born two daughters, Olive and Mary, and one son, James.
The family moved to several places while John T. was growing up. They went through all the hardships of pioneer life in Utah. There were no factories for weaving cloth so clothing was scarce. The women did their own spinning and weaving in their homes. John Thomas used to tell his grandchildren how his mother made him and Father Huff pants from a canvas wagon cover and coats from a blanket.
James Huff was skilled in building shingle mills and working in timber for building homes. John Thomas learned at an early age to haul logs with oxen.
John Thomas grow up in a home where his parents loved the Gospel and honored the priesthood. He was privileged to take out his endowments in the St. George Temple on October 24, 1877, soon after the temple was dedicated. He was only fifteen years old.
On July 4, 1877, John Thomas met a young girl, Agnes Belzora Savage, in the settlement of Circleville, Utah, where the Huff and Savage families were living. She was going to the holiday celebration with her brother.
Belzora's father, David Leonard Savage was born July 25, 1812, in Jamestown, Leeds County, Upper Canada. He married Theodora Finch in 1834, and she passed away in 1836 when her first child, Amanda was 2 months old. He left Canada and moved to New York where he heard of Joseph Smith. He went to visit the Prophet and received a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Joseph Smith. He was baptized in 1840. He immediately began doing missionary work. On March 7, 1843, he received the privileged of receiving his Patriarchal blessing under the hands of Patriarch Hyrum Smith. During the time that he was laboring as a missionary, he met Mary Abigal White. They were married and moved to Nauvoo. Their first child, Elizabeth was born in January of 1845 but lived only a short while. They began the trek West with the main b0dy of Saints.
They must have suffered all the persecution the Saints underwent in Nauvoo. Their second child was born at Winter Quarters on February 24, 1847. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 24, 1847. They were still there when their son William was born July 13, 1849. Sarah Miranda was born on April 27, 1851, in Lehi. From stories of the early pioneer days of Utah we learn that these rugged people were in the middle of pioneer life. In 1852 David Leonard and Mary Abigail were sealed, they had received their endowments in the Nauvoo temple in January of 1846.
David Leonard must have been endowed as a good pioneer leader and colonizer. He was called to go to the southern part of Utah to settle Cedar City by President Brigham Young. While the family was there two more daughters were born. Anna Liza on December 17, 1856 and Ellen Maria on May, 1859. Agness Belzora was born while the family was living in Holden, Utah, June 29 1861.
During the years the family was in Southern Utah, David Leonard ran a stage and freight line from Salt Lake City through the towns in Utah to Las Vegas and on to San Bernardino, California where the saints were colonizing.
In a journal kept on the history of Las Vegas the following was published in the Centennial paper celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Las Vegas.
Thursday, June 14, 1855 - The company arrived at Las Vegas today at 3:30. Their teams and wagons pretty well used up. On their arrival they found Brother David Leonard Savage camped at Las Vegas with the California mail, intending to stay until the next evening.
Monday, July 9, 1855 - The California mail arrived in the evening.
Tuesday, July 10, 1855 - Most of the camp employed the fore-noon writing to their families and friends.
Monday, July 16, 1855 - Brother David Leonard Savage arrived about noon with the mail bringing letters and papers from friends at home which enlivened the spirits of the brethren.
When Agnes Belzora was four years old, David Leonard was called by President Brigham Young to Paris, Idaho to help the Saints settle there. Here Lucy, the youngest daughter was born on December 8, 1865. David Leonard still pursued the freighting business and mail carrying. The family moved back to Holden, Utah in 1871.
When Belzora was 12 years old David Leonard was called to Canada on a mission in 1873. These were hard years, Belzora went into the wheat fields after the harvesters had finished like Ruth of old, gathering wheat heads. After the wheat was separated from the chaff, Belzora sold the wheat at the local store. She earned enough this was to buy herself enough calico for a dress and a new pair of shoes.
When David Leonard returned from his mission, he moved his family to Circleville. There Agnes Belzora met John Thomas Whetten.
John Thomas was an attractive young man with brown hair, blue eyes, medium build and height. He played the violin, sang and led the ward choir. He was a wonderful leader and entertainer.
John Thomas and Belzora had their first date on Deoember 25, 1877, and courted for a year. They were married on December 10, 1878, in the St. George Temple. He was sixteen almost seventeen and she was seventeen years old.
They lived in the “United Order” under a wonderful leader President King. Here their first child, John Amasa, was born on August 23, 1879.
In the fall of 1880, John and Belzora moved to Arizona with their parents. They traveled ten weeks by ox team. John Thomas said that all his earthly possessions were his wife and baby, one yoke of oxen, two yoke of cows, one wagon and a bob-tailed dog.
When they arrived in Holbrook, John T. found work helping build the railroad. He and Belzora stayed there until spring and then went on to Snowflake to join their parents.
In Snowflake on July 18, 1881, James Elbert the second son of John T. and Belzora was born. Mary Belzora, their first daughter was born on August 25, 1883 in Showlow, Arizona. Work was scarce and John Thomas had to be away from home a lot. He worked on the railroad and in the lumber business but by December, 1884, John and Belzora decided to return to Utah.
John T. fixed a covered wagon with a bed in the back and a small heating stove in the front and the family made a comfortable three week journey. They visited a week in St. George and then went on to Grass Valley.
In Grass Valley Edna Sophia, John T. and Belzora’s second daughter was born on June 6, 1885.
At this time John T. and Belzora decided that in order for them to live the Gospel in a fuller extent, John must take a plural wife.
John Thomas and Emma Johanna Nielsen were sealed in the St. George temple on December 18, 1885. Emma’s mother and step mother had both passed away and Emma had mothered several motherless children for some time.
At this time the Edmunds Tucker laws passed which made plural marriage illegal within the boundaries of the United States.
Persecution began again for the Saints, some men were sent to jail for months. Johns Belzora and Emma decided it would be best if Emma remained with her father and family and John and Belzora returned to Arizona. They all had faith that their Heavenly Father would take care of a situation He had asked His people to follow. John and Belzora with their four children returned to Snowflake. They had lots of trouble and sorrow. David Leonard Savage passed away on April 26, 1886.
Instead of the situation for the polygamists getting better, it only became worse.
John Thomas was working in Flagstaff working when he received a letter from Belzora that the children were sick with the measles and whooping cough. John T. had been taken ill with the measles while traveling to Flagstaff and had a feeling that he should return home. Then his best horse was stolen and he changed his mind. He received another letter saying that their baby girl had passed away on June 23, 1887. She was barely 2 years old. He hurried back the 150 miles to Showlow to find John A. real bad with whooping cough and Belzora ill with fever. He took them all in a wagon and traveled in the mountains and nursed them back to health. After they had recovered they traveled to Utah to bring Emma to Arizona.
Because of the terrible persecution of the polygamists, the Church provided a place in Mexico for those who needed to go. The John Thomas family quietly arranged their affairs and left for Mexico with several other families on February 23, 1889. Their were three adults in the family and four children, Emma’s baby boy Joseph, John A., Bert and Belle. They were equipped with two wagons, two horses, four mules and eight cows. John A. was nine years old at the time and made the whole trip on horseback helping Brother Kartchner drive the cattle.
The company arrived in Colonia Dublan on May 5, 1889. The journey had taken ten weeks so they rested in Colonia Dublan for a week. Colonia Dublan did not have very many houses as the Colony was just getting started. After they had rested, they moved on to the mountains to a little settlement called Cave Valley.
The season was late but John Thomas was able to rent a farm from E. L. Taylor who furnished seed and land for half the crop. John Thomas raised a good crop and Aunt Emma raised a good garden. They felt the Lord had blessed their efforts and they were at peace. Here Belzora, or Aunt Zora as she was called, gave birth to her fifth child, Charles Wilford on July 5, 1889.
The country was new and wild. Each family had a few cows so the milk was put together to make a cheese. Because they were a long way from any stores~ the only way they could obtain goods was when John Thomas hauled lumber from a little saw mill over rough mountain road forty or fifty miles to Dublan and traded the lumber for flour, sugar, and cloth.
The family all lived together. The children loved each mother. Aunt Emmy raised a garden and milked the cows and Aunt Zora tended the house. In 1891 the family moved to Corrales to be near the Pacheco Ward and a school. They had a ranch out from town where they had a cabin. They made cheese and had a garden and raised pigs and chickens there.
The family was increasing. Emma now had Joseph and Thomas and at Corrales Zora had Clarinda and Emma had Minda.
The summer of 1893 the family moved to the ranch to live. They were having very difficult times. John T. was very sick. He had a bad sore throat and the poison settled in his legs. The crops and milking were left up to the women and young boys.
Their problems weren't just living and health, the Indians were attacking. John A. and Bert were obliged to look after the cattle, especially John A, who was barely a teen age boy. John A. would ride all day to keep track of all the animals so the Indians wouldn’t find them and steal their precious cows that the family depended on for food.
Belzora and Emma were each expecting babies in the fall and preparations were made for the arrivals. The house was cleaned and one room white-washed. Each one intended on nursing the other when the babies arrived.
At this time a Thompson mother and her son were killed on their ranch which was in the vicinity of the Whetten home. The morning the Thompson’s were murdered, John A. was out in the hills looking for a stray cow. Word reached Pacheco of the murder and the bishop of the ward sent word to all the ranchers and their families to come to town at once for safety. No one knew who might be attacked next.
The Whetten family rushed to town as fast as they could taking all their belongings. Belzora and Emma must have been very anxious in waiting for John A.’s return. When he did return to the ranch in the late afternoon, he found the house deserted, corrals empty of cows and calves and even the pigs and chickens were gone. While he was still bewildered his father appeared and they rushed to town to tell his mother that he was safe.
The babies were now due and because of the excitement and rush, both mothers gave birth about thirteen hours apart. Belzora had her seventh child Lawrence Dee and Emma had Florence on October 12, 1893. They did not bring the babies into the world in the nice clean ranch house they had prepared but suddenly in town.
Lawrence Dee only lived ten months and passed away on August 12, 1894. In November of 1894, John Thomas went to Garcia and built a long three-room house with a porch across the front and a small room on the back and moved his family there. On August 12, 1895, just one year after baby Lawrence died, Warren Ernest was born to Belzora.
On December 13, John Thomas was ordained a seventy by President Edward Slinus. On January 5, 1896, the congregation was organized into a branch and John Thomas was chosen Presiding Elder. The Branch was organized into a ward in 1898, and John Thomas was ordained bishop. He wasn't released until after the Exodus at which time he was sustained as First Counselor in the Juarez Stake in May of 1916. He held this position until 1929, at which time he was released to be a member of the stake High Council. One of his duties was to work with the Stake and Ward Primaries. He held this position until his death on February 15, 1932.
In October, 1927, he and his wife Belzora were called to be ordained temple workers in the Arizona temple, which position they dearly loved and enjoyed because of the nature of the work and associations with old friends of Mexico and Arizona of many years before.
John Thomas confirmed the first baptism in the Arizona Temple and Agnes Belzora clothed the first women in the ordinance work of the Arizona temple in October, 1927.
In 1900, John Thomas took Lorraine Nelson Fautz as a plural wife. They were sealed by A. F. McDonald. Her six children were grown and some were married, her first husband had passed away. She was called Aunt Rainy by John T.’s family. She was a dignified hard-working pioneer woman, a splendid cook and she raised lots of flowers and a good garden. She was a wonderful asset to the family.
In 1898 the family was living in Colonia Garcia where Clifford Leon was born to Belzora on May 15, 1898. Aunt Emma’s Henry and Don Carlos were born in these early years in Garcia.
In 1900 Belzora’s son, Nathan Hasell was born July 20 and her oldest son John Amasa married Ida Jesperson on his fathers 38th birthday March 7, 1900.
The Garcia ward was steadily growing in numbers and spiritually and financially under the able direction of John T. Whetten.
Among those who were new members of the ward was the Hassel family. Uriah Hasse1, his wife Ludie, three sons and a daughter, Palmer, Theodore, Mayner and Lula, the children of his first wife who had passed away and Ludie’s two young boys Clair and Lyman. They were from the South. Ludie Ellis Hassel was the youngest of nine children born in Caffee County, Alabama. Her mother passed away when she was seventeen years old so she took over the care of her father and their home. She was a beautiful shy southern belle with black hair, black sparkly eyes, alert, shy, and reserved. She had accepted the gospel with her parents. Their only contact with the Church had been the splendid men who had brought the Gospel to them and it Ludie’s secret desire to meet and marry an L.D.S. missionary. Her father married a younger woman that Ludie called Aunt Maudy who had several little children. Ludie still cared for her father and the home and was a great comfort to him.
Uriah Hassel came to their branch as a missionary of the Church on his way home. His wife had passed away before his mission leaving him with four young children whom he had left with his farm in the care of his brother and sister-in-law. He asked Ludie to marry him and be a mother to his children. They would go to Utah to join the saints in Zion.
Ludie accepted his proposal, much to the Sorrow of her father, who felt that he needed her care and attention because his wife Maudy had her hands full caring for her young children.
When Uriah and Ludie got to Utah, they found the children badly neglected and needing her care.
The Hassels joined a large group of Mormon Saints traveling to Utah. By this time she had given birth to her first child Clair.
When they got to Houston, Texas some of the company stayed some went on to Utah, and Uriah Hassel with some others decided to go to Mexico. Ludie was somewhat disappointed she had had great plans for Utah.
They arrived in Colonia Dublan in the early winter of 1900. Brother Hassel rented a farm, bought seed and put all his money and energy into caring for it but for some strange reason the crop was a failure and the Hassels lost their money and work. Ludie’s second child was born here in November of 1900, Lyman Snow.
Brother Hassel could work in timber so they moved onto Colonia Garcia, the promise of lumber or sawmill work did not materialize very soon so Uriah decided to go to Cloud Croft, New Mexico, where he could get immediate employment.
Ludie was left with six mouths to feed and very little food. She lived on the far end of the Garcia Valley and was always frightened for fear of Indians.
Belzora befriended Ludie. She visited her and tried to comfort her in her loneliness. Bishop John T. Whetten allowed Ludie and her boys the use of his brick kiln field. She was a good gardener and managed her boys well. They planted turnips, corn, and beans.
Father Hassel came home to bring food and clothing and was delighted with Ludie’s garden. “You would make a good widow,” he said “you managed so well." He returned to Cloud Croft to work until fall but he never returned. A freak windstorm caused a tree to fall across his tent and on him killing him instantly. The sad news did not reach Ludie until several days later and she was left desolate and destitute. She wrote to her father and brothers asking them to come for her but news traveled slow1y.
Aunt Zora, Aunt Emmy and Ludie were very good friends and enjoyed each other very much. Their boys were all good friends and by the time winter was ending they had all decided it would be a nice arrangement for Ludie to marry John Thomas.
John T. took Ludie to Colonia Juarez by buck board where they were married by Patriarch A. F. McDonald on the 6th of March 1903. To this union was born five children, Manita born December 29, 1903, married Willard Shupe September 15, 1920 in Colonia Garcia and died December 26, 1944 in El Paso, Texas of cancer. Zorena born February 15, 1906 in Colonia Garcia, married Ernest Shupe on May 24, 1932 and died March 21, 1968 in Salt Lake City, Utah of a stroke. Lufton Cray Whetten, born August 8, 1907, married Maud Judd on February 22, 1929. Anthony Valentine born February 14, 1910 and died of pneumonia on January 3, 1929. Bllis bore in El Paso, Texas August 25, 1912 and married to D. S. Brown on November 20, 1930.
These three women loved each other and lived as sisters. By this time John Thomas was able to provide a separate home for each.
John Thomas’ oldest son John Amasa married Martha Carling a plural wife, on February 23, 1903 by Patriarch A. F. McDonald.
Belzora’s youngest child, a son Leonard was born August 26, 1903, and Aunt Emmy lost her baby girl this same year by the name of Adalaide when she was six weeks old.
On November 23, 1904, Aunt Emma Johannah passed away, barely 40 years old. She had borne nine Whetten children. Her life had lots of sorrow. She was born September 22, 1864, her mother passed away when she was six years old. Her father later married again and lost his second wife when Emma was 18 years old. She was a mother to her younger two brothers and five sisters until she married two years later. After she left her home she never saw her family again. She lost her two oldest boys the same summer to typhoid fever, Joseph Nielsen and Thomas Daniel. Her oldest daughter died shortly after with rheumatism and dronsey. Florence, Hazel, Henry and Don Carlos grew to adulthood, but they were very young children when their mother passed away. She lost her baby girl Adalaide the year before and gave birth to a still born boy just before her death.
Now Belzora had the responsibility of Emma’s children, but Ludie and Lorraine were there also. Aunt Emmy would always be missed, by her own children and the children of the whole family. She always raised a garden and worked with the boys milking. She was of Danish ancestry, a valiant, hard-working family. She fought out life’s battle amidst much ad adversity. She loved life and the duties of a wife and mother.
Aunt Ludie was now a part of the family. She had a great admiration for Aunt Zora. 8he often said she would like to compare Zora and her with the story in the Bible of Mary and Martha.
She admired Aunt Zora for her work in the Church. When Aunt Zora, had Stake vis1tors Ludie would see what she could do to help - kill a couple of chickens, get an extra pat of butter, extra loaf of bread or some fresh vegetables from the garden and slip across the street to Zora’s kitchen to help out a little.
As the boys grew older they loved to gather at Aunt Ludie's, there was a1ways after Church treats, a welcome place to visit. When she passed away on July 21, 1946~ Zora’s son Clifford said at her funeral that he lived and ate as many meals at Aunt Ludie’s as he did at his own Mother’s home.
The years of 1904 to 1905 were hard for Aunt Zora, with the passing of her beloved Emmy the large family and Church responsibilities. She was sustained Relief Society President when John Thomas was ordained Bishop. Her older children were growing up and were a great help. John was married and her second son Bert was in Mexico on a mission.
The family prospered. Their flocks and herds increased in number as well as their family.
Aunt Zora could reach beyond her mountain home once or twice year. Bishop John T. would go to Stake conference 50 or 100 miles away over mountain road down the valley to Colonia Juarez and sometimes to Colonia Diaz. If things were right at home, Aunt Zora could go with him. The trip was long and hard but to her it was a spiritual and social feast, to mingle and meet friends and Church leaders. She had a wonderful testimony of the Gospel and the knowledge and ability to teach it and the faith to live it. She was well-educated for a Pioneer woman; she could read and spell very well and had a fluent vocabulary and a comprehensive understanding of words.
She loved music, singing, piano, band or any instrument that could make music, but she couldn’t carry a tune. She might have been called a monotone.
Belzora was beautiful on the dance floor she moved with grace and dignity even in her late years. She waltzed or enjoyed a quadrille with her sons. John Thomas seldom danced, for he played the violin so well that he only needed one of his children to chord on the piano, he was an orchestra by himself.
John Thomas loved the gospel. He loved to teach and preach and he followed the growth of the Church in his wards and stake and the whole church. He knew every member of his ward when he was bishop and regarded them as his children. He had personal interests in their spiritual and material welfare.
He believed in work, attending church and recreation. He believed his ward members should be rewarded with a Friday night dance after a hard weeks work. He could play his fiddle for three solid hours without intermission then lay down his bow and sing. He also advocated a ball game or picnic Saturday afternoon as he certainly expected everyone out to Church Sunday morning.
When he was in the Stake Presidency, he took watchful care of the mountain wards. He drove a little pair of mules and a, buck board but under the seat was his violin wrapped in an old blanket. Each ward knew when he arrived there would be a good dance before he left.
He taught his people to gain a personal testimony, not depend on someone else’s. One of his favorite sayings was “The time will come when every tub must stand on its own bottom.
James Elbert filled a good mission in Mexico and returned to marry Lillie O’Donnel on June 29, 1908 on his mother’s birthday.
A great timber industry was started near the vicinity of Colonia Garcia, affording work for the ward members. Their cattle had also increased and they had a large dairy herd, which developed into a large industry of cheese and butter making.
The big lumber camps provided a market for anything that could be produced on the farms and in the dairy.
Bishop John Thomas encouraged the members of his ward to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. This added industry also made it possible for the young of some of the families to go to school in Colonia, Juarez at the Academy.
Many of the young families moved to the logging camps for several months of work. Among them were Bert and Lil1ie, Aurrie and Frank O’Donne1, Ed and Minerva Cluff, John and Pearl Bingham, Sumner and Pearl O’Donne1, Lester and Rosena Farnsworth, and Steve and Ethel Farnsworth. Bert kept the teams belonging to the Whetten’s working, some of the younger boys, Charl, and Maynor and Theodore Hassel could work in the summer time. John A. stayed at home to care for the cattle and. crops with the help of the younger boys, Clifford, Warren, Clair and Lyman. The dairying was carried on at the “Little Round Valley Ranch” below town.
The years of 1910-11, were good years financially for the Whetten family. Lots of rain or moisture, crops were bounteous and grass good for the cattle. Cows were selected for their milk producing ability. An industry for making cheese and butter began early in June, and kept up until after frost in the fall.
The fields were planted with great crops of turnips, corn, Oats, potatoes, beans, and summer gardens. Bert was the cheese maker with the help of some of the younger boys and all were pressed into milking cows. They also raised lots of hogs.
John looked after the range cattle with the help of the boys. John Thomas, not only managed the affairs of his own growing boys and family but also of his ward. There were Farnsworths, Lestor B. who was a counselor in the Bishopric,
Steve, Ernest, Byron, all had families. There were younger brothers, the Farnsworth parents, Alongo and his wives, Annie, Edie and Mame. The Cluff’s, Orson, Hyrum, Heber and their sons Eddie and Huber and others. Sheaffers, Lewis, Nielsens, Carl E. Nielson his sons Carl and Ernest, Binghams, Dannels, Bowlers, Stocks, Dartons, Humphries, Allans, Carlings and McDonalds and many more. All were his ward and flock. The Lunt boys who lived at Corralles were very close friends to the Whetten boys.
Now the lumber industry was increasing and the price was better than it ever was. In 1910 when the railroad was being built from Pearson (Mata Ortez) to Madera, it afforded work for young men. Sawmill camps were scattered along the way where the timber was good. Logs were cut in the forest and shipped by rail to Pearson (Mata Ortez) to a big mill. There anyone who could produce lumber could obtain a permit to cut trees (pines). The Pearson Lumber Company would buy all lumber, ties, telephone poles, ship it to Cuidad Juarez and El Paso for sale.
The railroad reached farther into the mountains. This was the time the Cumbre tunnel was built.
Bishop John Thomas obtained a saw mill. It was set up in the vicinity of the tunnel. Lester Farnsworth was in charge of the Mill. John A. and Bert were in charge of logging. Work was plentiful for all men and horses who could leave the farms and milking. Many moved their families the winter of 1910-12. Bert and Lillie and little baby boy James Elbert went the winter of 1911. John and family went early spring of 1912, to the lumber camps. As soon as any of his boys, ward members and family saved a little money, Bishop John Thomas would encourage or insist they go to Salt Lake City to the Temple.
Bert and Lillie went with others in June of 1911. John and Ida and others went in April of 1912.
The years of 1904 until 1912 were happy and progressive but not without sorrow. There were infant deaths in the ward and family.
There were no doctors those days; the family depended on the Priesthood and the skill of the mothers. They had one good Sister Sheaffer who had some training under a Dr. Ellis in Colonia Juarez. 8he was a mid wife. She was called by the Bishop to train at a class that was provided by the Church. So the ward would have help for delivering babies and helping with sickness.
Disease would break out some times. Epidemics of pneumonia, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, scarlet fever, would strike terror in the hearts of the parents. Often the family was helpless to save their little ones from these dreaded diseases, and their babies died.
The oldest son John A. and wife Ida’s first child and first grandchild of John Thomas and Belzora was stillborn
March 7, 1901. This was a great disappointment. It was also the 1st great grandchild of Sophia and James Huff. John and Ida also lost two more baby boys. Their 2nd son and 3rd child John Alvin, died of pneumonia December 8, 1905. Harry LaVon their 3rd son and 5th child also died March 29, 1909 of causes unknown.
John A. and Martha lost their 2nd daughter and 4th child Lucille, August 1910, from diarrhea or what they called "Summer Complaint.” Bert and Lillie lost their 1st child Elbert James of scarlet fever October 10, 1911.
John Thomas and Belzora’s oldest daughter, Mary Belzora, married. Price Wil11am Feutz December 25, 1909.Their 1st son was stillborn October 7, 1904.
William Fautz was the 2nd son of Aunt Lorraine, John Thomas' 3rd wife. Aunt Loriaine had 6 children before she married John Thomas. They are: Effie Fautz Pr1de, Joseph Fautz, Wil11am, Dane, Pearl Foutz Stock, and Edward. Will1am died September 5, 1915 in surgery for stomach ulcer, leaving Mary Belzora with 4 young children. Mabel Fautz born January 3, 1908 and died September 23, 1921; William John born December 15, 1910 and died September 1, 1937; Lorraine Foutz born November 1913 and died September 7, 1928; and Zora Ellen Foutz born January 1, 1916.
John Thomas and Aunt Emmy’s daughter Florence married Charley Martineau. She had more children than any of John Thomas’ family, fourteen in all. They are Lois born September 27, 1911, Charles Orlee, Joseph, Emma, Edna, Loyd, Tressa, Wendell Howard, Dwayne, Laurice, Minda, Hazel, Preston, Errol.
The summer of 1912 moved to be a disastrous one for the Garcia ward. Together with the whole Juarez Stake. War clouds had been gathering for most of 2 years, now they were hovering in closer. Bishop John Thomas was not to be discouraged, his three room log house was too small for his growing family, so were his other homes.
Aunt Lorraine had affection for all John Thomas’ children, one or two of the boys always stayed with her. She always had her own little home, she was too independent to live with anyone else. She had her own garden, cow, pig and chickens, ambitious in every way.
Two of Aunt Ludie’s older boys had gone to the United states for work, but her house was small for her growing family, now was the time to build new homes.
Charly and Clarinda had come home from school with lots of ideas. Charly had had a course in carpenter work at the school. Mexicans were hired to help make adobes, a carpenter shop was set up in the barn to make door and window frames. Charley Martineau, Florence’s husband was also good with hammer and saw.
John A. the eldest son also started new homes. His father-in-law James P. Jesperson came from Chuichupa to help, he was a Danish convert and a mason by trade and he could really lay up adobes. He was the one needed for this project. Aunt Ludie’s son Theodore Hassel worked with James P. as a helper.
Rocks were quarried from the canyon above Garcia and hauled by wagon for foundations. Ida’s home was the first built. When the adobes were all up, her brother Ed Jesperson came from Chuichupa to help put on the roof. This was all done by July 15.
James P. Jesperson had all the adobes up on Belzora’s home and was ready to start another when all work was forced to stop.
The greater number of people who lived in the American Colonies, Juarez Stake, Colonias Chuichipa, Garcia, Juarez, Dublan, Diez, Oraca, Moreles, were most American citizens. They loved their country, the United States, but because of the persecution of these who had more than one wife, they had moved to Mexico. Consequently, there were many relatives who had followed relatives. At this time there were many there who were not polygamists. They had all lived in peace with their families and loved their new adopted country.
The United States had always protected her citizens no matter where they lived, also the Mexican Government had promised protection to the Mormon Colonies against the uprisings in the country.
The leaders of the Juarez Stake, President Junius Romney, had sought to keep peaceful relationship with all government authorities by remaining neutral and minding their own affairs.
The time had come when there was no government authority there were so many seeking power. It was beginning to be a situation where right was right. It was against all common sense to suppose people’s lives and property would be safe in the political turmoil that existed, in the summer of 1912.
Such names as Salazar, Obregon, Francesco, Orozco, Pancho Villa, struck terror in the hearts of a peace abiding people.
On July 24, 1912, Salazar sent word to Stake President Junious Romney, that all former promises of protection to foreigners in Mexico was withdrawn. The Mexican army needed ammunition, guns, horses, and all food supplies the Mormons had, these things and that they intended to have them at all costs.
In such a chaos, it was decided by the Church leaders to send all women and children to El Paso, Texas at once. In fact, the President of the United States had sent word that all Americans who remained in Mexico did so at the risk of their lives.
Runners were sent to all colonies by horseback (telephone wires had been cut by renegades) to relay the news. It was a shock to the whole stake.
The Church bell tolled, this was a signal for all men to let go of their cultivators or cow milking or whatever they were doing, to run to the church to hear the latest news. This was it. All women and children were to be in Pearson to go by train to El Paso at once. The wagons would leave early the next morning.
James P. Jesperson laid down his trowel and picked up his walking cane. John A. tried to get him to ride a horse but he refused. He was good on foot and would get thru.
This was adrast1c turn of events for a ward who was so busy and happy, no one wanted to go, not even B1shop John Thomas, who now was 50 years old. He was of the feeling that the Lord had protected them in trouble and sorrow so far and would go on do1ng it, here in th1s l1ttle valley in the tops of the Sierra Madre Mountains but, if the stake Presidency felt they should send the women and children and older men, they would make preparations at once to leave. There was a 1ittle more than 12 hours to prepare.
Horses were unharnessed turned out, the dairy cows and calves were turned together and driven to pasture Ch1cken runs were opened, hogs turned loose. There was mixed emotions of fear and sorrow, as the women packed bare necessities of clothing and bedd1ng for themselves and children - no treasures could be taken no priceless heirlooms, dishes, furniture, pictures, linens, books etc. All were left behind.
It was a sad procession that lined up in the main street early the next morning, to leave their homes they loved so much, all their earthly belongings, most of whom never returned.
The next four months was a long pitiful story, this temporary trip to El Paso proved to be permanent for most people. The next six years for the Whetten family was long and sad.
Bishop John Thomas couldn’t keep his family together, let alone his ward. They were scattered like the wind, homeless refugees in a foreign land. Their mountain homes were not safe to go back to. The courage of the Whetten boys and other ward men of how they went back for cattle and horses is another story.
Many weary anxious weeks were spent in El Paso. In a big lumber shed was made the home of the Whetten women and children. One by one the ward people dispersed to relatives or places where they could find temporary homes and employment. John A.’s wife, Martha and four little children went to Utah with her parents, Elizabeth and John C. Carling and family where they had relatives who offered them homes until they could return to Mexico, but the Carling family never returned, they lost all they had.
Agnes Belzora with her children, Clarinda Hazel, Nathan Henry, Clifford Henry, Don Leonard and foster daughter, Georgia Owens. Ludie with Clair Lyman, Maynor Lula, Maneta Zorene Lufton and Toney. Ellis was born there in a little office room at the lumber shed in the worst heat ever, August 25, 1925, the youngest of John Thomas’ 25 children, John A. being the oldest.
John A., Bert, Charl, with other of the Garcia men, made the trip back to their home to salvage cattle and horses. They shipped their cows to El Paso and sold them there for practically nothing, usually $10.00 for a good animal.
John A. and others drove their horses to Hatchita where he and Warren stayed to herd and guard them with men from the other Colonies. There were so many soldiers, renegades, red-flaggers and federales that needed a gun and a horse and would take what they found.
The famil1es waited in El Paso, hoping this was a temporary thing but as the weeks wore on, it was necessary for John T. to find a place for his family. Finally with the money they got from the sell of the cattle, they bought a little furn1ture for each family, stove, beds, chairs, harnesses for work horses and the freight costs for sending everything to Blue Water, New Mexico. The whole family went by train with John T. going ahead. His mother Sophia Huff was there with her widowed daughter, Mary Lewis. There were prospects of work with the Government in building a dam near Blue Water that would give work for men and horses. The Zuni Mountains were near by and with them was the possibilities saw mills - these two prospects were encouraging to the Whetten men who could log, handle lumber, scrappers, move dirt and work in saw mills.
They arrived in Blue water on November 20, 1912. John A. and Ida with four little children and Ida expecting another soon, son Bert who was born December 25, 1912. Bert and Lillie with one baby girl Agness. Charl, Clarinda, Hazel, Warren, Henry, Clifford, Don, Leonard, a foster daughter Georgia Owens, Charly and Florence Marineau and their baby girl Lois. Aunt Ludie with Maynor, Lula, Man1ta, Zorane, Lufton, Tony and baby Ellis. Mary Belle Zora, and husband Will Foutz and Aunt Lorraine went to Sa1t Lake City. The Farnsworths, Nielsens, Clufffs, Binghams and many others from Garcia and Paoheco went to Blue Water.
The small Blue Water ward received many good L.D.S. families, who were talented in many ways. The Bishop Colin Hakes welcomed them all and he soon had a strong ward. The people from Mexico were destitute and homeless but were strong in the Gospel and hadn't let their troubles dampen their testimonies.
Clarinda was pressed right into teach1ng school. The school had to have two rooms added onto it to accommodate all the new children.
The Whettens immed1atly began to put on plays, dances and programs. The weather was terribly cold but as soon as they could the men went in to the Zuni Mountains to begin logging. Charl, Bert and John A. began as soon as possible because the teams as well as the families had to be fed.
Before the family had gotten completely settled Bert and Lillie lost their second child, Agnes, on December 16, 1912. This was very hard because they had lost their first child only a little more that a year before.
John A. and Ida's seventh child was born on December 25, 1912, and John A. sent to Utah for his wife Martha and four children. By spring several of the families moved to the Zuni Mountains to work in the timber. John and Martha, Bert and Lillie, Farnsworths and O’Donnels, Charl, Warren, Cliff and Henry were able to work there. By the end of the summer their contract ended and they were again without work.
Charl and Ivy Whetten and Clarinda and Ivy’s brother Alma Tietjen found favor with each other. They all went to Salt Lake and were married on October 8, 1913 in the Salt Lake Temple.
There was a promise of the government putting in a dam above Blue Water in a little place called Pentaqa, so John T. moved his boys and teams there. They began work just on faith and a promise. They worked several months without pay then learned that the money for the project would not be appropriated that year. They spent time and money for nothing. Consequently they had to look elsewhere for employment.
Lester Farnsworth and four brothers had moved to Arizona and sent favorable letters of conditions there, there was work on a canal for teams and harvesting hay. Preparations were made to move to Benson, Arizona.
John Thomas and his wife Belzora with sons Warren, U., Clifford, Henry, Don, Leonard and foster daughter Georgia Owens, John and Ida and five children, Bert and Lillie all went.
John Thomas’ family was divided. He left Ludie and her children, Maynor Hassel had married Annie Lamb of Blue Water and his sister Lula married Sam Lewis. John T.’s daughter Hazel married Charley Lewis (no relation to Sam Lewis) on June 3, 1914 after he left Blue Water. Clarinda and Charl were married and settled there and Florence and Charly Martineau also stayed.
John A. left his wife Martha and her five children. Martha gave birth to her sixth child Thelma on December 27 9 1913.
The journey to Arizona took a month. They left Blue Water the first week of March in 1914 in very cold weather but arrived the first of April in Benson in already hot weather.
The Farnsworths, Lester and Rey, had rented a, big farm called the Kern ranch. They had an abundance of melons, sweet potatoes and a truck garden. Food was more plentiful there than in Blue Water both for man and beast.
The heat of Benson, Arizona was a1most unbearable after 1 ½ years in the cool of Blue Water. The families lived in tents on the farm with the Farnsworths among tall mesquite bushes and every crawling creature of the desert.
Lillie and Bert’s third child and second son Elvin, was born here in a tent on May 27, 1914.
The people of the Pomerine Ward welcomed the Whettens. The Whetten family were active L.D.S. always eager and ready to serve with their energy and talents.
Ray Farnsworth’s wife’s mother, Melissia Martineau became very ill with smallpox the week Elvin was born. The whole farm was quarantined and every man, woman and child there were vaccinated. There were sick people from the shot but no more cases among the at least 45 people of the Whetten and Farnsworth families.
All the time since the departure from the Colonies, John Thomas had carefully watched and waited for the day when hi's homeless flock could go back· to their homes in Mexico. Many people had gone back to Colonia Juarez and Dublan - some had only stayed in El Paso a few weeks, but it was not yet safe to go back to Colonia Garcia.
By the time the hay harvest was over there was only a little day labor for the men at the meager pay of $2.00 for a 10 or 12 hour day. John Thomas decided it was time to again try his luck in Mexico. He was still bishop and he felt responsible to be near his Garcia in case they could go back.
In late August, John Thomas, Belzora and a few of their family, Bert and Lillie and Henry and Nathan, Don Carlos, Leonard and Georgia Owens, with Lester, his wife Resena Farnsworth, his mother Mame, and their children left Benson by train for El Paso, Texas and from there by train to Colonia Juarez.
Clifford and Warren were married in Arizona on September 1, 1914 at the farm in Benson, Pamerine Ward. Warren married Addie Martineau and Clifford married Annie Martineau, the girls were cousins.
John A. had the responsibility of taking care of all the teams of horses and mules. The family depended on them for a living. He moved his wife Ida and the children to Tucson to live with her parents. Her ninth child Lavern was born in Tucson in a truck on December 25, 1914.
The animals were pastured on Ed Jesperson’s place near Benson until work could be found. By the last of November, John A. with Clifford had moved the horses to Anthony, New Mexico and worked all winter on the Sante Fe Railroad grade going north to Albuquerque with mules and scrappers. This was the first time the family had been so scattered. John Thomas and his family stayed in Colonia Juarez for a while, perhaps a year or so hoping to go to Garcia, but the Mexican revolution still carried on and it was not safe to even venture there for a day. Charl and Ivy who had stayed in Blue Water decided to try Mexico. John A. sent his wife Martha and children who had stayed in Blue Water back to Juarez with them. People were living quite comfortable there. Most of their homes had not been molested. Orchards produced in abundance and they could raise gardens. Circumstances were not as they were before the revolution started but people lived quite peaceable.
John Thomas and his family moved to Colonia Dublan the fall of 1915 and rented a wheat farm there until 1919.
April 1, 1915, found John A. forming a logging contract with Dave and Sam Brown and their bother-in-law Howard Veater. They were living in Canutillo, Texas and were from Colonia Chuichupa. This contract was with Hollach and Howard Lumber Company in Northern New Mexico near the Colorado boarder, in Riaribba Countv. Thev pooled all their horses harnesses, tents, and tools of every kind and bought 8 wheeled logging trucks and everything they could scrape together and hired railroad cars and shipped them by Santa Fe train to Santa Fe New Mexico, hen by Denver and Rio Grande on to La Madera, all for $181.50. John A. went ahead and met the company of men located a camp and Lester Farnsworth soon followed him. Charl also arrived soon after. Ivy had come back to Blue Water and was awaiting the birth of their first child a baby girl who was born May 3, 1915.
By June, 1915, they had a thriving camp of Mexico boys George and Pete Brown, Lester Farnsworth, Jeddie Judd, Dan Hurst, Bob, Done, Charl and Ivy with their one child, Clifford and Ann, Bert and Lillie and their child, John A. and Ida Whetten with six children, Wood and Alice Judd and six children, and Bob Vance.
This proved to be the best move they had made since leaving Colonia Garcia. The pay was good and gave the men work they knew how to do. They excelled above the company camp and other contractors. These Mormons who would not work on Sunday could make their own roads get the logs to the railroad, which was right at their camp and get more work done in six days than the company camp could in seven.
John A. was in charge of the work. He hired local men. They had their problems, it was always rainy and wet and it made the roads difficult with such heavy loads, nevertheless they progressed. By late summer the boys sent for their father John Thomas for a visit. While he was there they received the news that Mary Belzora’s husband Will Foutz had passed away during surgery on September 5, 1915 in Gridley, California, where they were living near his sister Effie and her husband Jim Price. By the last of September the Whettens and Browns had felled their contract of lumber feet which surprised the company. They asked them to quit by October 1. John Thomas went back to Blue Water to move Ludie and family to Mexico, she had done very well farming, raising chickens and caring for herself and family.
The Browns, Veater, Whetten Company dissolved and settled up and parted very good friends. Sam Brown came to get their belongings. John A. helped him sell some of the horses and equipment that belonged to them.
Mr. Coldrin, the boss of the company sent word to John A. on October 4, 1915, not to leave because he wanted to see him. They tried to get him to stay for $2.50 per 1000 feet and he finally consented for $3.50 per 1000 feet. This was a surprise; they had supposed to try to all go back to Mexico.
Instead of going back they moved higher in the mountains. John A., Charl, Cliff, Frank O’Donnel and his wife Annie and five children, Henry Whetten and Willard Shupe moved to this new location. Bert was called on a Spanish American Mission under Rey L. Pratt, for six months which lasted 18 months in Taos, New Mexico. Here Bert’s fourth child Rey Lucero was born on June 5, 1916. On this mission Bert found the Shupe family at Carson, New Mexico.
John A. hired other local men to work. The snow was terrible, often 6 feet deep, always four feet on the level. The snow made logging almost impossible, but they learned a lot and were ready for the snow the next winter.
These Whetten boys were a long way from any Church organization but they always rested on the Sabbath day, studying and singing songs together. Sometimes Bert came in a little buggy with another missionary or sometimes President Pratt came or even other missionaries alone. It would always be a spiritual feast. They often invited their non L.D.S. friends to their meetings and made contacts for the missionaries.
It is interesting to note on our record sheets that the Whetten Boys all advanced in the Priesthood as they became of age. John Thomas honored his responsibility in seeing to this.
All his children were baptized at eight years and the boys received their ordinances at the proper age.
Clifford and Ann made the long hoped for trip to Salt Lake City for endowments in the Salt Lake temple in June of 1916.
The next winter the Whetten boys had their logs stacked by the side of their roads and made heavy sleighs to haul their logs instead of trucks. When the snow was so deep, they hued 2 big logs about 12 feet long to make runners bolted 6 feet apart. The logs were chained by one end to the sleigh and the rest of the logs chained behind. This proved to be a good plan. Again, they put in more logs than the other camps, that had more men and better equipment. By the fall of 1917, their contract would be finished. Hallach and Howard Lumber Company tried to persuade the Whetten boys to go to Florida to get lumber for ship building - war clouds were gathering over the United States and President Wilson had called for ships.
Florida was too far from home. The boys were thinking of going back to Mexico. Bert and Lillie were released from their mission, since the contract was nearly finished, it was decided that Charl and Ivy and their baby girl and Cliff and Ann and their baby boy and Henry and Willard Shupe could start the journey to Mexico. They left in May and would get to Colonia Dublan to help their father with the wheat harvest.
It took them two weeks to make the journey. The boys at the camp pushed to get through and the women sewed clothes and made all preparations to leave for Mexico.
They knew they were going where clothes and cloth couldn’t be bought and they would need enough for one year. Clothes, shoes, bedding, household goods and farm implements for the men. Harnesses had to be in good repair and good teams of mules and horses for the revolution in Mexico had bled the people dry of such things.
When the contract was finished the wagons were loaded and ready to roll. Anything they couldn’t take or didn’t need had been disposed of. Even the log cabins were sold to neighboring ranchers.
On September 8, 1917 the caravan started to Mexico. John A. had three wagons, his wife Ida, six children; Bert and Lillie and their two children; Frank B. and Annie 0’Donnel with their five children (they lost a baby girl) Annie gave birth to a baby boy there. John and Robb Beecroft and their families joined the group after the first few days with two wagons each. They all had a pleasant journey lasting one month.
They arrived at Colonia Dublan on Tuesday October 4, 1917, a very happy reunion for the Whetten family. John Thomas, his wife Belzora, & Don Leonard were living in Dublan. Ludie and her family were in Colonia Juarez. The family was all back in Mexico now except Warren and Addie and Charly and Florence Martineau, they were still living in Arizona, but came back to Mexico in 1920. Clarinda remained permanently in Blue Water.
Lula Hassel Lewis passed away when her first child was born. Maynor Hassel never returned to Mexico, nor did Theodore and Palmer Hassel.
Clair and Lyman returned, Clair stayed two years. Lyman married Thelma Turly and stayed until about 1945.
The Whetten men with other Garcia men were making frequent trips to Garcia trying to pick up the few pieces left and start a home again. They began plowing for spring planting, mending and. building. It was not easy, the fields had been dormant and were over run with weeds. Even the wolves and coyotes and Mexican bandits had had full possession for nearly six years. They were not easy to force out of the way.
John Thomas was released from the bishopric in May, 1916 and was made 1st counselor to J. C. Bently in the re-orgainized Juarez Stake. His wife Belzora was 1st counselor to Fannie C. Harper in the Stake Relief Society. John Thomas loved the mountain colonies and encouraged his family 100% to press on to live there.
In January, 1918 several families moved back to Garcia. The Bishop had already been sustained and set apart. Lester B. Farnsworth, Bishop, John A. Whetten, lst Counselor, Eddie L. Cluff, 2nd Counselor. The Lunts and Johnsons and Carlsons returned to Pacheco and Corrales. Soon the Judds and Browns, Vances, and Seveys returned to Colonia Chuichupa. John A., Bert, Charl, Clifford, and Warren all tried Garcia and then one by one moved onto Chuichupa. Clifford stayed the longest in Chuichupa.
Leonard married Lettie Beecroft June, 1921. Henry married May Beecroft February, 1922. Don Carlos died of Flu complications. Clarinda’s husband Alma To1tjon was killed by accident in 1918.
John Thomas bought a big brick home in Colonia Juarez. Belzora, Aunt Lorraine and Mary Belzora lived in Colonia Juarez. Aunt Ludie lived in Chuichupa until after John T.’s death.
He died February 15, 1932, he would have been 70 years old March 7. He lived a useful and colorful life in 70 short years. He had 25 children, and 112 grandchildren.
Agnes Belzora -11
Emma Johannah – 9
Boy – stillborn
Ludie – 5
These are the grandchildren.
John A. & Ida – 13
Boy – stillborn
Martha – 9
Bert and Lillie – 8
Maybelle and Will Foutz – 5
boy – stillborn
Charl and Ivy – 6
Freda Charles Alma
Clarinda Alma – 2
Golden Roundy – 5
Warren and Addie – 7
Clifford and Ann – 5
Nathan and Theora – 2
Florence and Charly Martineau – 14
Lois Charles Orlee
Leonard and Lettie – 4
Wilmireh – 1
Hazel and Charles Lewis – 5
Henry & Mae – 3
Genevieve – 3
Maneta and Willard Shupe – 3
Zorene and Ernest Shupe – 3
Ellis and D.S. Brown – 8
David Samuel Jr.
Ellis La Ree
Lufton and Maud – 7
John Thomas -Feb. 15, 1932
Agnes Belzora -May 29, 1939
Emma Johanna -Nov. 23, 1904
Ludie -July 21, 1946
Lorraine -Feb. 1946
John A. -March 19~ 1961
Clifford Leon -Aug. 19, 1961
Charl W. -April 19, 1965
Warren Ernest -April 5~ 1968
Zorene -March 21, 1968
James Elbert -Dec. 9, 1999
Leonard David. -Jan. 12 9 1935
Maneta -Dec. 29~ 1944
Henry and Mae – Feb. 10, 1922
Lufton and Maud – Feb. 22, 1929
Ellis and D.S. Brown – Nov. 20, 1930
John Thomas Whetten’s line of authority has been passed down to many hundreds of people. There are bishops, stake presidents, missionaries, and all kinds of church leaders that are descendents of John Thomas.
The names of John Thomas and his wives Belzora, Emma Johanna and Ludie will long be revered. Truly we the Whetten family can say of John Thomas Whetten as Abraham was told in the Pearl of Great Price, “Thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations.” Abraham 2:9
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