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Lucius Nelson Scovil

Question: What occupation did Lucius Scovil have while living in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1840?

Answer: Lucius Nelson Scovil was born in Waterbury, Connecticut on March 18, 1806 to Joel and Lydia Manville Scovil. He was married to Lury (Lucy) Snow on June 18, 1828. In 1835 they moved with their three children to Kirtland, Ohio.

In June 1836, Lury’s youngest cousin, Lorenzo Snow (later fifth president of the Church), was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the following month, July 2, 1836, Lucius and Lury were baptized by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Due to the persecution at that time in Kirtland, the members were moving to Missouri. Lucius made five 1000 mile trips from Kirtland to Missouri helping people move. Finally, it was their turn. Lucius’ family left Kirtland on July 6, 1838. They traveled with a group of more than 500 people in 62 wagons. Due to the continued persecution, Lucius moved his family to Adam-ondi-Ahman, and then to Quincy, Illinois.

About 1840 he moved his family to Nauvoo, Illinois where he helped build the beautiful Nauvoo Temple. While there, he built a nice brick bakery known as the Scovil Bakery. It was located next to the Masonic Hall. He advertised in the “Nauvoo Neighbor” that he manufactured “everything connected with that kind of business – breads, crackers, cakes, jellies and candies” Visitors today at the restored City of Nauvoo learn how the ovens were fired, see the utensils and are given fine samples of ginger-bread cookies, along with the recipe. This restored bakery is on Main Street between White and Hotchkiss Streets.

Lury died on January 27, 1846, after giving birth two weeks earlier to twins, Martha and Mary. Both twins died, too. Mother and twins were buried in the same grave, and their single headstone stands next to their son, Joel Franklin Scovil, who died in Nauvoo at age fourteen. Lucius then married Alice Greaves Hurst, who was a young widow with children, whose husband had died coming across the ocean.

When Nauvoo was vacated and the saints moved west, Lucius emigrated with his family to Salt Lake City in June 1850, with the William Snow/Joseph Young Company. Lucius filled two missions to Great Britain, helped with LDS emigration, and spent most of his life as a farmer in Utah County, Utah. He was a Notary Public in Utah in 1859. After moving to Provo, Utah, he was Postmaster from 1860-61.

In the Pioneer Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, there is a very fine exhibit of personal effects that belonged to Lucius Nelson Scovil. He died February 14, 1889 in Springville, Utah, and is buried in the Springville Cemetery.

The Lucius Scovil/Charles Lambert Story

Late in 1844, one year after LDS convert Charles Lambert moved to Nauvoo, he proposed marriage to a fifteen-year-old girl, Mary Alice Cannon, who was very burdened with major family responsibilities. Charles was then twenty-nine and working as a stonecutter on the Nauvoo Temple.

Mary, born in England, was the daughter of George Cannon and Ann Quayle (and younger sister of George Q. Cannon, who later served in the First Presidency). During the Cannon family’s voyage to America in 1842, Mary’s mother had died at sea. Mary’s father was a carpenter, and in June 1844 he made the coffins for Joseph and Hymn Smith. A few weeks later, while doing business in St. Louis, he died suddenly of sunstroke and was buried in a grave his family never found. Without warning, young Mary became an orphan who, being the oldest sister in the family, needed to take care of three younger siblings.

Her friend Charles Lambert, who had in mind marrying her when she was older, offered to help ease her burden by marrying her immediately to support her and the children. “She had told him that she could not marry him if it meant that she must leave her little sister Leonora,” a Cannon family history records; “his prompt reply was, he would do better than that-she could bring along not only little Leonora [about 4], but the boys Angus [about 10] and David [about 6] also, and he would find a home and support them all.” Mary accepted Charles’ proposal. Her uncle-by- marriage, Apostle John Taylor, performed their marriage ceremony on November 28,1844. The newlyweds then tried to provide for the five people in their new family. But, as will be seen, during the first year of marriage the load became too heavy.

Elsewhere in Nauvoo, Lucius and Lucy Scovil, married for fifteen years, were raising a half- dozen children. To help income, Lucius opened a “Bakery and Confectionery’ on Main street soon after Christmas, 1843. Customers at the Scovil Bakery bought bread, crackers, cakes, “jelleys and candies of all descriptions,’ and “marriage cakes made to order on short notice.’

But, during the spring of 1844, two things changed for the Scovils. First, on April 15 Lucius sold or leased the bakery to F. H. Mossier. Then, Lucius and Lucy’s fourteen-year-old son, Joel Franklin Scovil, died on May 10th. Such a loss of a promising child prompted LDS poet Eliza R. Snow to pen lines of tribute and publish them in Nauvoo’s Times and Seasons newspaper. Her “Reflections at the Funeral of Joel F. Scovil” in part reads:

I had no tears to shed. How could I weep?

His years, indeed, had been few, but then

He was a saint, and has gone to join

The spirits of the just.

Soon, very soon

The resurrection morn will dawn and bring

An everlasting triumph o”er the grave.

Be faithful then ye parents! Keep the faith–

Be steadfast in the cause of Zion, till

Your course is finish’d, and your work is done

And you shall soon embrace your child, lay’d

In robes of royalty–with glory crown’d

In your own mansion of celestial Light.

Lucius and Lucy buried Joel in the Nauvoo Burial Ground up Parley’s Street. Then, in mid- or late- 1845, they decided that they should place a headstone on their son’s grave. The agreement was a sudden and direct answer to Charles and Mary Lambert’s urgent prayer behind closed doors in their bedroom, a prayer Lucius Scovil probably never knew about. Here is how Charles wrote it:

“I must mention a circumstance that took place a short time previous to finishing the Temple. I was going home when my wife met me at the door and began crying. Said she could stand anything but this (that was the children crying for bread and she had none to give them). I replied ‘why do you not go and ask the Lord to send you some? We went into our bedroom and there made our request.’

“In about an hour after, Br. Lucious Scovil came and after some little talk said he would like me to make a grave stone to mark the place where his son was buried I told him I would do it. He said he was in no hurry but wanted it done. I told him I had a family depending on me. He said he did not have anything to pay with. But in a while [he] told me he could let me have some wheat if I wished it. I told him I would be pleased to get some. He wished me to go with him and he would let me have it.

“I went, got the wheat, 4 or 4.5 bushels. I got it, took it to the [K]Night’s mill, and returned home with the grist. Thus our prayers were answered.’

As agreed, Charles carved the headstone. Into a four-foot-long stone slab he chiseled:




MAY 10TH, 1844

AGED 14 Y 12 D

The stone was then secured upright atop the boy’s grave in the cemetery on Nauvoo’s east edge.

Joel’s headstone marks more than a burial place, however. For those who know the story, the crafted headstone’s carefully chiseled letters serve as a testimonial to one specific and direct answer to prayer that a desperate young Nauvoo couple received in 1845.

A few months after Lucius Scovil made the headstone-for-wheat deal with Charles, Lucius’ wife Lucy died on January 27, 1846, after giving birth two weeks earlier to twins, Martha and Mary. Both twins died, too. Mother and twins were buried in the same grave, and their single headstone stands next to Joel Franklin Scovil’s (It is not known if Charles Lambert carved their headstone, too.)

Over the years, the Nauvoo Cemetery fell into disuse and was overrun with weeds, grass, and trees. Headstones suffered deterioration, damage, and theft. A decade ago The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took over the property and cleaned up the grounds. Among the old headstones still standing is that of Joel Franklin Scovil – the remaining two-thirds of it, that is – next to the one for Lucy, Martha and Mary Scovil.

Source: Stonecutter and Lucius Scovil “Thus Was Our Prayer Answered‘ by William G. Hartley, Associate professor of history at Brigham Young University,; Excerpts from Life Sketches of Lucius Nelson Scovil and Charles Lambert;

Comment(s) on this post:

  1. Tracy Mower

    Thank you from my whole heart for this account of Lucious’ family.
    My grandmother was Sarah Reva Scovil, who was the grandaughter of Lucious & 2nd wife Sarah McArthur. My family was never taught about the faithfulness & spiritual strength & miracles that marked the life of Lucious Scovil and family. This account is a blessing to me, my childen & our grandchildren. I am interested in contact with others who are related or have interest in the Scovil family.

    • Paul Wilson

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. It’s always great to hear from those who have personal connections to these amazing people. If you have any additional information you’d like us to add please contact us at

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