Question: What decision did James Cazier make when he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife refused to join?
Answer: James Cazier was born on July 13, 1817, on his parent’s farm on the Kanawha River, near Elizabethtown, Wood County, Virginia. He was the oldest of ten children of William and Pleasant (Drake) Cazier. While living in Wood County, William and Pleasant had two additional children: a daughter, Maranda, born in 1818, and a son, John, born in 1821. Later in 1821, when James was four years old, William and Pleasant sold the farm and migrated down the Ohio River to Brownsboro, in the vicinity of Louisville, Kentucky. While living near Brownsboro, seven additional children were born to them.
The Cazier’s were Baptists. During their stay in Brownsboro, the local Baptist preacher became a follower of Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Disciples of Christ Church. He converted most of the members of his congregation and started a new church. This group of converts included the Cazier family.
James grew to manhood in Oldham County and learned the art of farming from his father. On May 29, 1839, at the age of 26, he married Juliette Catherine Hudson, the fourth child and third daughter of John Jeremiah and Elizabeth (Souther) Hudson. Juliette was born April 7, 1817, in Oldham County, Kentucky. She was also 26 at the time of their marriage.
In November of that same year, James and Juliette left Oldham County and migrated to Macon County, Illinois, There they began family life on a farm, owned by her brother and near her brothers James B. and John Jefferson Hudson. In 1841, James’ parents and his brothers and sisters also migrated to Macon County, settling near the town of Lovington..
In 1842, James and Juliette bought a 132-acre farm from her brother Jeff Hudson. The farm was located two miles northwest of Sullivan. James and Juliette had four children, all born on that farm. About 1844, a group of Mormon missionaries came through Moultrie County, preaching and converting new members. Among those converted was the Cazier family, including James, who became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 1 January 1845. However, Juliette did not convert and remained a Protestant. This situation appears to be the beginning of the troubles and division within the family. Early in 1846, troubles arose between the Protestant and Mormon groups in the community and the Mormons were given a very short period of time to settle their affairs and leave the area.
In preparation for his departure with the Mormons, James sold the family farm back to his brother-in-law, Jeff Hudson. Sometime in May 1846, James departed Moultrie County with his parents and siblings, leaving behind his wife Juliette and his four children, ranging in age from six-years old to the infant, Jeremiah. James’s wife, Juliett, was influenced by her brothers, who were bitter against the Mormons, and she refused to go with her husband.
James, along with his father, mother and siblings, departed with the Mormon group, traveling to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Here James and John enlisted as Privates in the Mormon Battalion, on July 16, 1846, for one year of service during the Mexican War. James never saw his mother, Pleasant, again as she died in November 1846, and the age of 50, at Council Bluffs, before James returned from his one year of military service.
The Battalion departed Council Bluffs, Iowa, on July 20, 1846, marching 200 miles southwest to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They arrived at Fort Leavenworth on August 1, 1846. After outfitting the unit, they departed the fort on August 12th, beginning a 900-mile march headed for Santa Fe, Mexico. The Battalion arrived in Santa Fe on October 12, 1846, having covered an average of 15 miles per day over the 61-day march.
By the time the Battalion reached Santa Fe, many of its members were too weak and sick to continue the march to California. The commander screened the unit and created a “sick detachment.” James, his brother John, and their good friend Melchoir Oylear, were part of this detachment. The detachment was ordered to march north to Fort Pueblo, Colorado, a distance of about 275 miles. The detachment spent the winter at Fort Pueblo, recovering their health. During that winter, some of the members died, including their friend, Melchoir Oylear.
In the spring of 1847, the Battalion Sick Detachment members began travel toward the Salt Lake Valley where James and John were both mustered out as Privates and did not have to continue on to California. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. In August 1847, James headed back to Council Bluffs and arrived there in November 1847.
In the late winter of 1847, James traveled south to St. Joseph, Missouri, to see his brother John. While there, he decided to pay a call on Elizabeth Oylear, the widow of this friend from the Mormon Battalion, Melchoir Oylear, who died at Fort Pueblo. On March 3, 1848, he married Elizabeth in Savannah, Andrew County, Missouri. Elizabeth married Melchoir Oylear on August 11, 1837, at Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. They were the parents of two sons: Jonathan Charles, born in1838, and William Jasper, born in 1843. On October 7, 1851, James was appointed guardian of Elizabeth’s two sons. There is no record that James and Elizabeth had any children of their own.
For the next two years, James and Elizabeth lived in a number of locations throughout northwestern Missouri and southwestern Iowa. They finally settled in Silver Creek Township, Mills County, Iowa. Apparently Elizabeth had been the only member of her family to join the Church, and desired to stay close to her family rather than going west with the saints.
In February 1862, James enlisted in the 6th Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment, along with his stepsons, for a three-year term of service in the Union Army during the Civil War. In July 1862, he suffered serious back injuries while tending the unit’s animals. He was discharged in January 1863, as a result of those back injuries. After being discharged, he joined the local Company of the “Home Guard” and served as a Lieutenant for the remainder of the war.
James then sold some his farm, and after moving from place to place, in December 1879, James purchased town property in Plattsmouth, Cass County, Nebraska. In June 1887, James and Elizabeth sold this property and moved to Nez Perce County, Idaho, to join Jonathan and his family. In August 1887, James purchased a 160-acre dry land wheat farm in Nez Perce County, near the tiny community of Cameron, Idaho. He stayed on this farm for the rest of his life. Elizabeth passed away on the farm on March 17, 1891, at the age of 78. She is buried in the Cameron Cemetery, which borders their farm. James passed away at the age of 74, on October 23, 1891, at the home of his stepson, Jonathan, in Latah County. He is buried beside Elizabeth in the Cameron Cemetery. His tombstone reads “Grandpa Cazier.’