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Charles Shumway

Question: After joining the Church in 1840, how did Charles Shumway get to Nauvoo?

Answer: Charles Shumway was born on August 1, 1806 in Oxford, Massachusetts. In 1832 he married Julia Ann Hooker. Following their marriage they moved to Sutton, Massachusetts. They lived at Sutton for a short period of time during which Charles worked as a carpenter and engaged in farming.

Charles’ father and a brother had gone west to Illinois. His brother wrote glowing reports about the land in Illinois, so Charles traveled to Rockford, Illinois to visit them. He liked what he saw in Rockford, and three months later he moved his family to Rockford. Here, Charles purchased some land and developed a farm. He remained there for approximately three years. He then sold his farm and cabin and moved near Galena, Illinois. While here, he constructed a house, erected a sawmill and cleared some farm land.

In 1840, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited them. In 1841 Charles and Julia Ann were baptized. They would always remember with gratitude the missionaries, Elisha Grove and John Green who taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ and baptized them. This was the beginning of a new life for Charles and Julia Ann. Shortly after his baptism, Charles traveled to Nauvoo, Illinois and visited the prophet Joseph Smith. He was greatly impressed with the Prophet and his message. He returned immediately to Galena to dispose of his property and moved his wife and children to Nauvoo. He loaded all of his possessions on a raft and floated the raft down the Mississippi River to Nauvoo, a distance of approximately 200 miles.

During 1841, Charles was ordained to the office of Seventy in the church and was immediately called by the Prophet Joseph Smith to return to Galena and Rockford to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Charles owned two parcel of property in the Nauvoo area, one in town and one in the country a short distance east of Nauvoo. While Charles lived in Nauvoo he was a policeman and was engaged in acting as a body guard for the Prophet Joseph Smith. Charles also spent many hours working on the Nauvoo Temple and other buildings. Charles was also appointed to membership in the Council of Fifty, a governmental body appointed by the Prophet Joseph Smith. The death of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum was a sad time for all.

In early 1845, Charles was called to go on a mission to the Cherokee Nation. That mission apparently lasted for only a few months, and in August of that year, he was back in Nauvoo. At this time he entered into the practice of polygamy when he married Louisa Minnerly. Charles was also a member of the Nauvoo Legion.

In the fall of 1845, Charles was appointed to be one of the captains of fifty and to help the members of his company prepare to leave Nauvoo. Charles and his young son Andrew established a wagon shop, and they began immediately to assemble wagons and to gather and prepare the necessary provisions for their trip to the west. On February 4, 1846, Charles and Julia Ann left their home and their beautiful city. The first wagons of the Charles Shumway family crossed the Mississippi River, thus beginning the great Mormon Exodus from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley. They landed on the western shore of the Mississippi River at a place which is now known as Montrose, Iowa.

In the weeks that followed, Charles and his wives and children traveled from Garden Grove to Mt.Pisgah, Council Bluffs, and finally across the Missouri River to Winter Quarter, Nebraska.

At Winter Quarters, the entire family were ill and on November 14, 1846, his wife Julia Ann Hooker, passed away. She was buried at Winter Quarters. Charles was left with three children, Andrew, Mary Eliza and Harriet. Harriet then also passed away, and she was buried in the Winter Quarters Cemetery. Louisa cared for the two remaining children, and eventually had four children of her own. Charles remained in Winter Quarters for a few months and during this brief stay, he assisted in construction of a grist mill, a council house and homes. He was also assigned to work on peace-making missions between the Indians and church members.

On April 14, 1847, Charles was called by Brigham Young to be a member of the first pioneer company. Charles’ young son Andrew, then 14 years of age, was allowed to go with them.

On August 30, 1847, just one month after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Charles was called to return to Winter Quarters with Brigham Young. On the way, Charles met his wife, Louisa, and daughter, Mary Eliza, coming in another company, so the family turned around and returned to the Salt Lake Valley.

In May of 1849 Brigham Young called Charles and a group of men to assist in building a ferry so that future saints coming to Utah would not have to ford a stream. Then Charles and his family were called, along with other families, to settle the area of Manti, Utah. This settlement was headed by Bishop Isaac Morley with Charles to serve as his first counselor. Charles helped construct the first saw mill in the area. Brigham Young provided the metal and straps, and Charles constructed the saw mill.

On June 31, 1851, Charles increased his family once again when he married his third wife, Henrietta Bird, who became the mother of eight sons. In 1851, Charles was appointed to serve as a member of the first Territorial Legislature for the Utah Territory. In 1852 Brigham Young called Charles to move his families to Payson, Utah. After spending a year in Payson, Charles and his family moved to South Cottonwood, an area at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains a few miles south of Salt Lake City. For the next few years the Shumway families lived in that area.

In 1857, Charles was called on a mission for the Church to Canada. He then returned to Utah and in 1859 he received a call from Brigham Young to move to Cache Valley. He moved to Mendon, Utah and shortly thereafter, because of difficulties with the Indians, relocated a few miles south in Wellsville, Utah. He later returned to Mendon where he constructed a rock chapel and established a saw mill. While Charles lived in Mendon, he took another wife. Elizabeth Jardine. Elizabeth became the mother of seven children. Charles and his families remained in the Mendon/Wellsville area for eighteen years.

Brigham Young then asked Charles to move to Kanab, Utah. While he was in Kanab, he engaged in the trading business, and he constructed and operated a shingle mill on the east fork of the Virgin River. Charles then purchased some land and water rights in Spring Valley, Arizona, and moved his families to that place. This valley became the home of two of the Shumway families. The town was later named Shumway, Arizona. Charles established homes for his families, constructed a grist mill, a school, planted orchards and settled down for the balance of his life, except for a brief return to Kanab where Henrietta and her family lived.

In 1897 Charles Shumway was the oldest living survivor of the first pioneer company to enter the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Charles Shumway passed away on May 21, 1898, at age 91, in his home in Shumway. He was buried in the Taylor Cemetery, Navajo County, Arizona.

Source: Excerpts from “Charles Shumway’ by Dale R. Shumway. This story of Charles Shumway, was presented at a family reunion held at Mesa, Arizona on April 6, 1977,;

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