To my husband's family: The following is
an abridgment of a history of Joseph H. James, father of Nellie Mariah James
Nelson and grandfather of Ada Helen Nelson Alldredge. I got this from Grandma
Nelson a long time ago. This was a very long history but a lot of it had
nothing to do with the James family and was hard to understand. I also left
out parts that were controversial about the two families. Grandma Nelson
said that her mother, Eliza, and Joseph's first wife (Eliza's sister), Elizabeth,
didn't get along and that Elizabeth treated Eliza badly. The story says just
the opposite because it was written by descendants of Elizabeth. I'm sure
it was very hard (especially for two sisters) to be married to the same man--so
I just left out the backbiting. I've tried to make it easy to read but a
lot of it was out of chronological order and I may not have got it all
straightened out. --Cindy
JOSEPH HENRY JAMES
Joseph Henry James is the son of Joseph James and Sarah Holyoak:
His father, Joseph James was born in Halse, Somerset, England to Joseph Jury
and Mary James. Joseph James was baptized in Cardiff, South Wales on the
13 February 1852 by Elder William Jenkins. He came to America on the 29 September
1854 on the ship, Gauleondar. He met Sarah Holyoak and her parents
while crossing the plains on the way to Utah. Sarah was born on the 4 August
1835 at Kings Norton, Worcester, England to George and Sarah Green Holyoak.
Joseph and Sarah were married in Salt Lake City on 3 October 1854 by Elder
Phillip Sykes. They were sealed in the Endowment House on the 10 June 1856
by Daniel H. Wells. They went to Ogden to live, settling close to the Weber
River on Wall Avenue and 27th Street.
Joseph Henry James growing up:
A son was born to this couple on the 22 October 1855, whom they named, Joseph
Henry James. Joseph had two sisters and nine brothers. Joseph grew up in
a pioneer home and a pioneer city in the early days of the Church. He knew
hard work, being an ambitious boy and the Spirit of Pioneering was in his
blood. He had a faith in God and a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Church
of Latter-day Saints.
When he was just 18 years of age, Joseph joined the first volunteer fire
brigade in Ogden City. Fires were fought by passing buckets of water from
one man to another until it reached the last one in the line, who threw it
on the fire. Joshua Williams was the first fire chief. On the morning of
the August 9, 1873 a big fire broke out in Ogden on Washington Blvd. and
ZCMI lost heavily. This aroused the citizens to the necessity of better
organizing the fire brigade and supplying it with equipment. A hand pump
and water hose were purchased. The pump was mounted on a platform on wheels
and the volunteer firemen stood on each side of it. By hand they worked the
mechanism up and down after the manner of men operating a railroad handcar,
the hose attached to the pump was placed in the water ditch, canal, well,
In the winter of 1873, while yet a youth, Joseph was called by President
Brigham Young to go to St. George to work on the temple, then under construction.
He later came back to Ogden.
Joseph H. James and William F. James, sons of Joseph James, and Robert B.
Paine and Hyrum Watkins and others started school with Washington Jenkins
as a teacher. On January 3, 1876 they were called from the Ogden Second Ward
to go to Arizona on a work mission. A ward dance was given in their honor
and they left on the 26th of February 1876 as called by the Church.
They traveled slowly with a few horses and mules; through deep snow and cold
weather. When they reached the Colorado River, they had to pay $2.00 per
person and animal to cross the Colorado River. They traveled for twenty miles
further without any water, until they reached the Little Colorado River.
It was so thick with mud that even the animals wouldn't drink it. After many
hardships they finally reached their destination in Arizona on the 30 March
Soon after arriving they were put to work to clear the ground for plowing
and the land looked very desolate. The first plowing was on the 25 March
1876, the second on the 26 March 1876 was when the first meeting was held.
They also helped to put a cover on a store in which to put their supplies
for living the United Order. All they had to eat for the most part was beans
The weather was so cold on the 17th of May 1876 that one-half inch of ice
froze, killing all the crops that had been planted and were just coming up.
They also spent some time digging ditches for irrigation and building a small
shanty to keep warm in.
On the 3rd of July 1876 they were released to return home, as the venture
had proven a failure. Some of the missionaries stayed behind, Joseph James
being one of these. (From diary of Robert B. Paine.)
A larger and somewhat sturdier expedition headed by Lot Smith, O. Ballenger,
George Lake, and William C. Allen started from Utah early in 1876. Joseph
James joined up with the Lot Smith group as a cook. The first party reaching
Sunset on the Little Colorado on the 23rd of March 1876. There they established
four settlements, better know as Brigham City, Obed, and St. Joseph, but
only the last, at present has existence.
Joseph Henry James wives' ancestry:
In January 1876 a mission call came from the President of the church to all
parts of Utah for 200 families to go to settle in Arizona. The call came
to Hyde Park in Northern Utah where John Bloomfield was a pioneer of 1856.
John Bloomfield came from Bungay, Suffolk, England leaving from the Liverpool,
England port on 30 November 1855 on the ship, Emerald Isle. He arrived in
New York on the 29th of December 1855. Not having enough money to buy a team
and supplies to go to Salt Lake, they were advised by President Brigham Young
to settle in Chanceville, Mammouth, New Jersey with thirty other families.
Here he found employment.
Also with the group was Nathaniel Wilkinson and his wife Lydia Daines Wilkinson
and their family. John met their daughter, Harriet Wilkinson, and they were
married on 11 November 1857. On 7 October 1858 a daughter, Ellen Maria, was
born to them. In the spring of 1859 word came to this branch to move to Salt
Lake. They traveled as far as Omaha, Nebraska where Harriet lost her father
and also their baby daughter. They stayed in Omaha until spring of 1860.
They arrived in Salt Lake in November 1860 bringing with them Harriet's mother.
They inquired at the church office in Salt Lake to find where Harriet's brother,
Robert Daines, had settled as he had come to Utah a year before they came.
They found he had moved to Hyde Park in Cache Valley. So they left Salt Lake
and went to Hyde Park and made their home there. On 17 September 1862 a baby
girl, Elizabeth Salomia, was born to them and on the 21 January 1864 their
daughter, Mary Eliza, was born. Harriet Wilkinson Bloomfield died on 6 January
1868 when the girls were very young. She was buried in Hyde Park. John
Bloomfield, their father, married a widow, Elizabeth Ann Barton Ashcroft.
John with his wife, Elizabeth, and their family of nine children heeded the
call to go to Arizona so they, along with 200 families, left to go to Arizona.
The travelers had been called in January 1876 to sell their homes in various
parts of Utah and go on a mission to Arizona. They were to settle on the
Little Colorado River and build homes and establish a community. This call
came from Brigham Young. They went with the George Lake company to Obed,
Arizona (Joseph City). The George Lake group arrived on 24 March 1876. The
party of emigrants traveled for weeks over long miles of country, without
roads, except those they built as they traveled. They reached a point not
far east of the community now known as Joseph City. That 24th day of March
brought a temporary end to their travels which had been through snow of various
depths, across Horse Rock Valley, to Lee's Ferry (on the Colorado River above
Grand Canyon) and thence Lee's Backbone, a rugged mountain. Then southward
and eastward to Moencopi, a Hopi village that previous Mormon explorers had
found a friendly stopping place. Their travel then led them southeastward
to the Little Colorado River.
After consultation of the camp the William C. Allen and company decided to
settle east of the present Joseph City location. George Lake and company
preferred to cross the Little Colorado and settle about four miles away.
The settlement of Obed, as they called the place was three miles southwest
of Joseph, directly off the old Allen's Camp and across the river bears dates
of June 1876 having been moved a short distance from the first campground.
They built a fort there of remarkable strength, twelve rods square, the walls
were ten feet high. There was bastions, with portholes for defense at two
corners and port holes were in the walls all around. The camp at the start
had 123 souls, which included John Bloomfield and his wife and nine
Cottonwood was sawed for lumber. The community had a school house in January
1877 and a denominational school was started the next month, with Phoebe
McNeal as teacher.
The settlement was not a happy one. The site was malarial, selected against
Church instruction and there was the usual trouble in washing away of brush
and log dams, the population took chills and fever and finally moved in March
of the year to Sunset. Eliza says the people of Joseph City, Brigham City,
and Sunset came and moved the site and divided them among each one. Everybody
was down with chills and fever except one man and his wife, (George Lake
and wife). They never went back to Obed. They moved to Sunset and there built
and lived the United Order.
Joseph Henry James meets the Bloomfields:
Lot Smith and camp retraced his steps to a point just below the mouth of
Cottonwood Wash where he settled Sunset. Joseph was with this camp and the
river crossing nearby was know as the Sunset Crossing of the Little Colorado
Allen's camp became Allen's City and then St. Joseph according to a report
by Erastus Snow in September 1878. The people were living in the United Order
with Joseph James as one of the cooks.
They built a fort 200 feet square with rocky walls 7 feet high, inside were
36 dwelling houses each 15 X 13 feet. On the north side was the dining room
80 X 20 feet with two rows of tables to seat more than 150 persons. Adjoining
was a kitchen 25 X 20 feet with an annexed bake house. Water was secured
within the enclosure from two good wells. South of the fort were corrals
and stock yards. The main industry was the farming of 274 acres, more than
half in wheat. They had milk from 142 cows. One family was in charge of the
saw mill, a man was in charge of pottery, men were assigned to teach school,
etc. Jesse O. Ballenger the first leader was succeeded by George Lake in
1878, who reported the people were living together in the United Order. It
was here that Joseph Henry James met his future wives, Elizabeth Salomia
and Mary Eliza Bloomfield. He first courted and married Elizabeth in June
1877 then Mary Eliza on 10 January 1879. Both times he made the long journey
to St. George, Utah to marry in the LDS Temple there. The journey was long
and hard and he had to make a dangerous swim across the Colorado River at
Lee's Ferry to get the ferry on both wedding trips.
The members were as a rule very earnest in their endeavors to carry out the
principles of the United Order, but some were dissatisfied and moved away.
It eventually divided and dissolved with the consent of all. In 1881 all
were released from the mission and the settlement practically broke up. Some
went to Wilford, others to Forest.
Joseph was ordained a High Priest by Brigham Young, Jr. on the 27th of February
1881 and set apart as a second counselor to Bishop L.M. Savage. In 1882 Joseph
married Orpha Rodgers.
Twenty of the families from the three settlements moved fifty miles southwest
of St. Joseph and founded a little settlement in the Little Colorado Stake
at a place called Wilford in honor of Wilford Woodruff. Wilford was settled
with a view of making it a center for stock raising and dry farming, founded
in the midst of pine timber high up near the mountain tops close by was the
city of Heber. Joseph James was called by Lot Smith to go to Wilford where
he was set apart as Bishop on 25 July 1883 until the time this settlement
broke up. Some farming was done in 1883 and 1884 and stock raising was quite
successful from the beginning. It happened, however, that a number of those
that settled in the timber of Wilford and Heber were polygamists and when
the anti-polygamy act was instituted in 1885 the brethren who were in danger
of arrest moved to Mexico.
John Taylor and George Q. Cannon of the first presidency addressed a letter
to President Layton of an Arizona stake suggesting that an effort be made
to obtain "A place of refuge under a foreign government to which our people
can flee." The letter dated 16 December 1884 further stated "A general attack
is being made upon our Liberties throughout all the territories where our
people reside. It is said that prosecuting officers in making this raid are
acting under instructions from the Department of Washington, D.C."
Several groups left Arizona for Mexico. On March 6, 1885 a group arrived
in Mexico headed by Joseph H. James, his three wives and seven children.
His father-in-law, John Bloomfield and his sons and Joseph Hancock and families
arrived in Juarez on 16 December 1885.
Colonia Diaz and the Mormon Colonies in Mexico
Mormon Colonization in Mexico resulted in the establishment of eight permanent
settlements, six in Chihuahua and two in Sonora.
Colonia Diaz, Juarez Stake, state of Chihuahua, Mexico was situated near
the Spanish town of La Asuncion. It was near the center of a large valley
extending north and south about 70 miles with an average width of 25 miles.
The River Casa Grandes flowed from the southwest to the northeast through
the valley. The town (Diaz) was built on a mesquite flat about two miles
north of the river, about 40 miles south of the U.S.A. border. Diaz was about
60 miles north of Colonia Juarez, the headquarters of the Juarez Stake. It
is about 60 miles east of the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Mormon
settlers first arrived at the townsite in 1885. The settlement was founded
under the direction of Apostle Francis M Lyman and George Teasdale. Farming
was commenced at once and the saints agreed upon a common herd ground and
went into stock raising to a considerable extent. A townsite was surveyed
in 1886. At a meeting held on 5 November 1886 where the town was named Diaz
in honor of the president of the republic, Porferio Diaz. About 45,000 acres
of land at Diaz and vicinity had been secured by the LDS Mexican Colonization
Company for the benefit of the Mormon exiles. The townsite of Colonia Diaz
consisted of a square containing 144 blocks, each block being 27 rods square,
separated by streets six rods wide following the cardinal points of the compass.
The land surrounding Colonia Diaz is quite fertile and productive, but the
place is very windy, annoying dust storms being quite frequent. The saints
at Colonia Diaz were organized into a regular ward on 24 October 1886, with
William Derby Johnson, Jr. as Bishop, Martin P. Mortensen as first counselor,
and Joseph H. James as second counselor. They were set apart on 9 November
1886 by Apostles George Teasdale and Moses Thatcher.
Joseph James and family in Mexico
The first grist mill in Colonia Diaz was built by John Rowley in 1891. In
1893 Joseph H. James and William D. Hendricks constructed a burr mill having
a turbine wheel. (Joseph H. James and his daughter, Harriet--13 years old,
had gone to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple. While in Utah Joseph
obtained the turbine from Cache Valley and freighted it back to Colonia
The Mexicans resented the Mormons coming in at first. They stole them blind.
They would come in and steal the bedding off the children's beds, while they
were asleep and also take their clothing. One morning Joseph got up and had
no shirt or shoes. He went outside and found a Mexican wearing them.
Joseph and his family hardly knew where the next meal was coming from but
still he would divide what he had with others. The family would divide the
last of their dough and share with others even though they were out of flour.
Before the day was over Joseph would obtain some flour from somewhere else.
They never went hungry at Colonia Diaz. The first home Joseph made for his
family was four posts driven down in the ground with planks laid across them
and the wagon box set on this. The wagon bed had bows with a cover to deep
the sun and rain out. It was set up on these planks so the snakes and lizards
couldn't crawl in. This was their sleeping quarters. There was plenty of
skunks and coyotes in this wild country which was untamed and full of wildlife.
Later Joseph dug a room in the ground and put willows over it and covered
it with dirt. When it rained they would go inside to keep out of the rain,
when it was quite raining they would go outside, so it could rain inside,
as it leaked like a sieve. They would put pans on the bed to catch the water
so the beds wouldn't get wet.
After they had been there and had time to make adobes Joseph built as nice
a home there as anybody had those days. While this house was under construction
they had several earthquakes. It rocked the adobes back and forth like a
rocking chair. A ladder was leaning against the house and it would shake
it so hard. It would nearly stand straight up. It made the sewing machine
dance like it was possessed. They had several of these earthquakes that summer.
His daughter, Harriet, said she was at a neighbor's house when one of these
earthquakes came and she ran home and told her mother that the world was
coming to an end. She said the ground would shake so hard that she had to
cling to a tree so she wouldn't be thrown to the ground when she was outside
playing. These earthquakes really shook up the saints, but none of the families
received any serious damage from them.
Joseph's family lived in this house for several years. Then he sold it and
bought a farm where he could have work for his growing family. He lived and
loved his family very much. he raised corn and molasses in the fall. When
the crops were gathered he would press out the molasses by using a mule going
around the press to press the cane to get the syrup. Then they would boil
it and there you have molasses. Then all of the town was invited in to make
molasses candy and popcorn balls and have a good time. At one of the parties
a woman fell in the well. It wasn't deep so she didn't hurt herself, just
scared her a bit.
Joseph didn't want his children to go away from home, but they would have
the whole town to his house thus their home was the gathering place for all.
He also raised melons which the young men and their sweeties use to come
to pick at night. As they went about the patch one night one of them said
this one is ripe, that one is ripe and so on. As they got all they could
carry and started to leave they looked and behold there stood Brother James.
They started to run but he told them to take the melons. Another time as
the young men were picking melons Joseph got in their surrey and took off
with the girls. He gave the boys a merry chase. He was humorous and full
of lots of fun and action. As he played in plays he used no script, he just
filled in words of his own. One lady said that it was always much better
than what was already in the play and made everybody laugh.
Joseph didn't want his children to go away from home to work, so he always
provided something for them to do, as he had cows, geese, pigs, chickens,
ducks, mules, horses and plenty of wild deer. Turkeys and all kinds of wild
game to hunt and eat. They killed them only as they needed them and there
In 1893 Joseph moved his family to Colonia Dublan. Here he operated the St.
James Hotel and Store for several years. His children worked in the dining
room and sometimes the store. Joseph's homes and hotel were a place of refuge
to the polygamist fleeing from the colonies in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona.
Many stayed until they could get a home to live in.
Joseph moved back to Colonia Diaz in 1894 and was set apart as first counselor
to Bishop W.D. Johnson on 18 March 1894 by Jesse N. Smith.
In 1897 a railroad was built from Ciudad Juarez (near El Paso, Texas) to
a point 12 miles beyond Colonia Dublan. While building this railroad Joseph
H. James was the contractor. The men building the railroad decided to stop
the venture without saying a word to Joseph. The workers complained about
their pay. Joseph told them to work until September and if they didn't receive
any pay he would pay them himself, he had so much faith in people. Payday
came and no checks, so Joseph sold all he owned and paid the men their wages,
which amounted to $5,000.00.
In 1900 Joseph built three homes in the mountains for his three wives and
families at a place called Hop Valley. Later on it was called Hermandez.
Here Joseph again accumulated the wealth of the world: land, timber, saw
mill, cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, chickens, and jerkin
Joseph was always interested in the welfare of his family and wanted them
to learn. His daughter, Harriet, taught the younger children--her younger
brothers and sisters and another family's children. She earned a milk cow
for her pay. Joseph put a dam in one of the ditches and made his family a
swimming pool. A cave close by was the dressing room. They all lived as one
big family, no quarrelling or fighting. There was some jealousy between the
first two wives (who were sisters) but when they felt things were not fair
and just they kept it to themselves so there was love and harmony in the
Joseph H. James' Early Death
On 25 April 1908 Joseph H. James was called home to his Heavenly Father.
Joseph was on a horse on his way to Juarez to do some business and stopped
by the site of the logging camp. The first log went down the shoot okay.
The second log started on when all of a sudden it jumped the shoot twenty
feet hitting Joseph and bounced back into the shoot also killing a Mexican
standing by. His son, Joe, ran down the mountainside to his father and said,
"Oh, Pa!" His father just stretched and gave a sigh and was dead. He had
a scratch on the back of his ear and a broken leg. It had hit his watch as
it stopped. He was buried on 26 April 1908 at Colonia Juarez. Joseph left
a family of 20 children under 20 years of age. Shortly after Joseph was killed
his third wife, Orpha, died and was laid to rest by her husband at Juarez.
She had lost four of her eight children.
Elizabeth and Eliza stayed in Colonia Hermandez with their families until
the Mexican War of 1912. Pancho Villa, the rebel, and his followers drove
off their cattle, sheep, horses and killed the cattle and drank the blood
and left the meat laying there to rot. He robbed them of everything they
had including guns and ammunition. They even put out the eyes of some of
the Saints. Finally on 28 July 1912 the word came from the president of the
stake to abandon their homes and move to El Paso. The families living in
the mountains didn't get to the railroad in time so had to go out of Mexico
by wagon and teams. They went by Diaz with 86 wagons. The men came out a
week later on horses. They had been staying to protect their homes and farms
but had to leave at night to save their lives. They had hardly a change of
clothing with them. When they arrived in El Paso they were put in an abandoned
lumber yard. The shed at the lumber yard was just a big open space. It was
filled to capacity with human beings destitute of practically everything
but a hope that such conditions would soon end and they could go back to
their comfortable homes. Each family was appointed a few square feet of space
on which to eat and sleep. When beds were laid there was literally not one
foot of space between them. But the most distressing of all was the humiliation
of the mothers and wives being subject to the gaze of the curious as they
stood or reclined gowned in calico, the balance of their wardrobe having
been left behind. In February 1913 the principle houses of Diaz were burned
by the revolutionists and not attempt was made to resettle the place until
1928 when Flay Peterson obtained permission from a member of LDS owners to
reclaim the property and hold it for his own until they should need it.
Joseph's two widows were left with nothing and to care for their children.
Elizabeth took her five children and went to Spring City, Sanpete, Utah where
her daughter Harriet lived. Eliza took her family to Ramah, New Mexico where
her father lived. He had come out of Mexico before the exodus to spend his
last days in the place he loved.
Joseph H. James worked hard, he didn't just exist and wonder where the next
meal was coming from, he was a full tithe payer. Besides giving his all to
the Church, he spent his life to help build it up and was the happiest man
on earth surrounded by his wives and children. Whenever his daughter, Harriet,
met people from Mexico of the older generation, they knew Joseph James and
told how much they loved and respected him and what a humorist he was--even
better than the beloved Will Rogers. His mother disowned him because he married
in polygamy, but he grew in the Church and his country to be a great man.
This is a condensed version of
"The Life History of Mr. Joseph Henry James" by Harriet Ethel Jensen Woolsey-
(Joseph James' Granddaughter)
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