Question: Lewis Dunbar Wilson is mentioned in D&C 124:132. How important were family ties in the early history of the Church?
Answer: Lewis D. Wilson was born 2 January 1805 in Milton,Vermont, to Bradley Wilson and Mary Gill. His story wouldn’t be complete without including a little about his parents and siblings.
“In 1825 Bradley Wilson went with his wife and family of seven boys to Ohio, where they settled in Perry, Richland County. After all seven boys were married and had homes built, their father could see the smoke arising from all seven chimneys from his own house.”
In the spring of 1836 Oliver Granger and George A. Smith came into the neighborhood as Mormon Elders. They were refused the use of the school house to hold their meetings. Knowing it was the usual custom for other denominational preachers to have the use of the school house, the Wilson boys told the Elders they would constitute a committee of seven to support them. Accordingly the meeting was held with the boys guarding against disturbance.
From excerpts taken from the biography of George A. Smith: “I preached to a large congregation on Bradleys porch in the township of Perry, Richland Co., Ohio on the evidence of the Book of Mormon. “ In May 1836, most of the Wilson family were baptized. (Lewis named one of his sons, George, and one Oliver Granger Wilson, who died in Nauvoo in 1840 at age four.)
Bradley’s wife Mary died 30 January 1841 in Nauvoo, and Bradley died 15 November 1842 in Nauvoo. Their sons became known as the “Seven Brothers” after the exodus from Nauvoo. Guy Carlton died on the plains, but the other six all lived and died in Utah—with the exception of the youngest, Bushrod Washington, who went to San Bernadino California.
From Lewis’ journal, we have the following: “I married Nancy Ann Wagoner . . . My wife and I were baptized on the 23 of May 1836. I became a deacon and was ordained a priest in September. A little later, I was ordained an elder by the Prophet Joseph Smith . . . We visited Kirtland to attend the solemn assembly in April.”
“On the 30 of August 1838, we started for the land of Zion. On the 14 of October, we were at Caldwell Co., Missouri . . . I built a cabin. On November 20, Governor Boggs ordered the Saints to leave Missouri. We were mobbed and driven from our home.
We started for Nauvoo and reached there on the 26th. I was chosen as one of the high councilman at the corner stake of Zion at the October 6 conference. I was ordained to the high council by Hyrum Smith, patriarch . . . On January 19, 1846, Nancy and I were sealed in the house of the Lord.”
Lewis wrote, “Feb 18, 1846, I started with my family of ten from Nauvoo for California, with five of them without a shoe to their name, or hardly a change of shirts to their backs, and with a borrowed wagon and team, and five bushel of parched corn-meal and 100 lbs of flour and 25 lbs. of pork, with myself just out of a sick bed and my wife not much better. After a tedious journey of two or three months we reached Garden Grove where we are now.”
Lewis then moved his family to Council Bluffs. “We settled on Michito Creek, planted corn and potatoes and started to build a house. I went twelve miles to get a load of lumber. When I returned, I found my wife very ill, after giving birth to a son July 19, 1851, who was named Samuel. His Dear Mother only lived ten hours after his birth . . . She died full in the faith of a glorious resurrection with the Just and was buried on the Missouri Bluff, just above Kainsville.”
Lewis migrated to Utah in 1853 and settled in Ogden, with four of his brothers, on what is now known as Wilson Lane. Here Lewis served on a high council. Lewis died n March 11, 1856 in Ogden, at the age of fifty, leaving the younger children in the care of his oldest son, Lewis Jr.
He was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery in Ogden, Utah.