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Morris Charlies Phelps

Question: Where did Brigham Young ask Morris Charles Phelps to settle in 1853?

Answer: Morris Charles Phelps, the son of Spencer Phelps and Mary Keneipp, was born December 20, 1805, at Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts, the oldest of nine children. When about nineteen years of age, with the consent of his parents, Morris went to the southwestern part of Illinois, to visit some relatives. Here he became acquainted with Laura Clark, to whom he was married on March 28, 1826. They afterwards moved to Tazwell County Illinois, settling at Willow Springs.

Morris then moved to the northern part of the State. It was here that he first heard the gospel preached by Lyman Wight and John Correll. He opened his house for holding meeting and was baptized in August 1831, by Sanford Porter, Sr. Shortly afterwards he was ordained an Elder by David Stanton. He sold his possessions in Illinois and started for Jackson county, Missouri on October 14, 1831. He arrived at Independence, Missouri, on March 6, 1832. He lived here until driven out by the mob. He next located his family in Clay County Missouri.

He and Laura Clark had five children whose names were Paulina Eliza, Mary Ann, Harriett Wright, Joseph Morris and Jacob Spencer.

From the diary of Morris Charles Phelps written by him, we read: (Changes made by Lyman De Platt to correct errors and format) “Here [Clay County] I rented a farm. Zion’s Camp came; there was cholera amongst the Saints generally. On September 30, I left my family [and went] with David Patten, Orrin Parish and Elisha H. Groves on a mission. We went through Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. We built up two branches of the Church, one in Calhoun County and one in Cook County, Illinois. We baptized father T. B. Clark and his wife Polly Heden. I was now laboring with Charles C. Rich, Sr.

“In June I started for Kirtland, Ohio, where I arrived in August. On the 17th of August I was ordained a high priest by William W. Phelps, and John Whitman, in the temple. I worked on the temple for three months. I attended the dedication of the temple and received my endowments. In Kirtland I was ordained a councilor to Don Carlos Smith, president of the high priest quorum. We heard many marvelous prophecies, many of which I have lived to see fulfilled. On April 6th I started home to my family. My brother went with me; we arrived home on June 3, 1834.

“About the 5th day of June I baptized my brother Orrin and my daughter Paulina in Ray County, Missouri. From there we were driven by a mob to Caldwell County: Far West, Missouri. In the fall of 1837 we were again attacked by the mob under the pretense of being a militia. My property was confiscated and on December 12, 1837, I was made a prisoner. I was put in jail where I remained until July 4, 1839, from which I made my escape along with Parley P. Pratt, Sr., by the assistance or Orson Pratt and John Wesley Clark and my wife Laura Clark; we went to Quincy, Adams, Illinois.

“We made a short stay with my family at Montrose, Iowa. In September I started on a mission to the east. I took my wife Laura and her son Joseph Morris, then our youngest child. On October 14, I arrived at Kirtland, Ohio. During the winter we traveled and preached the gospel. In the spring of 1840 we started back to Nauvoo, preaching by the way. We arrived in Nauvoo in July. We rested for a few days, got our children together and settled in Macedonia, twenty-five miles east of Nauvoo. There we lived in peace and quiet for a short time. There my wife Laura, by over exertion and exposure by traveling day and night, acting in the capacity of midwife, took sick on February 1, 1842 and died on February 9, 1842…She was buried in Nauvoo in the old graveyard, southwest corner, now in the southwest corner of the city.

“On March 27, 1842, I married Sarah Thompson. She was born March 20, 1820, in the town of Pomfret, New York. She bore me seven children, the oldest, Laura Ann, born February 16, 1843, at Macedonia. My son, Jacob, died at Macedonia (Webster), Illinois, on March 13, 1843, from a scalding and was buried in the Macedonia graveyard.

“In 1843 I moved to Nauvoo. Laura Ann died there January 21, 1844 and is buried in the Nauvoo graveyard. Sarah Diantha, second daughter, was born February 25, 1845 in Nauvoo, and died there February 28, 1845. Hyrum Smith, Sarah’s third child, was born February 26, 1846, in Nauvoo.

“I worked on the temple in Nauvoo and shared with the Saints in their persecutions and troubles and sacrifices of property, poverty and distress; also in their blessings, washings and annointings; also Sarah my wife received these blessing the last of January 1846.

“About this time Paulina Eliza, my daughter, married Amasa Mason Lyman; at the same date Mary Ann was married to Charles C. Rich, Sr., both upon the altar in the temple at Nauvoo, Illinois. About February 15, 1846, Laura Clark was sealed to me; Sarah Thompson acting as proxy for Laura. Laura died without receiving her endowments; Sara was sealed at the same date as Laura, in the temple.

“In February of 1846, the last of the pioneer company left Nauvoo, crossing the river. I remained in Nauvoo until June 14, 1846. I crossed the river into Iowa at that time. I stopped at William O. Clark’s for a few weeks to make preparations for the western wilds of the Rocky Mountains. I arrived at Winter Quarters on November 1, 1846 (now called Florence, Nebraska). There I remained until June 25, 1851, when we again started for the Rocky Mountains. On June 28, 1851, I was appointed captain of a company of sixty-three wagons and teams bound for Salt Lake City. We arrived there on September 27, 1851 and settled at Alpine, Utah County, where we made a farm and built a saw mill.’

In 1853 the family helped build a fort in Alpine, Utah. The fort covered 10 acres, with a 12 foot wall to protect them from marauding Indians. During this same year Morris received a call from Brigham Young to settle in Bear Lake, Idaho. Morris donated the saw mill to the Church and settled in Montpelier, Idaho.

Morris became the first post master for Montpelier and in 1873 was called and ordained a Church patriarch by Brigham Young. Since there were no doctors in the Montpelier area at this time Apostle Charles C. Rich set Sarah apart as a midwife and promised her she would not lose a mother. Sarah delivered over 500 babies without losing a mother’s life.

Morris died on May 22, 1876 in Montpelier, Bear Lake, Idaho Territory at age 70, and is buried in the Montpelier City Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “History of Morris Charles Phelps and Sarah Thompson,’ submitted by Lyman De Platt, prepared by Barbara Ann Phelps Allen,;

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