by D.P. WOODLAND
Not far from where the James empties into the Atlantic Ocean near the city of Norfolk, there was born to John and Mary Brown Woodland a son who also bore the name of his father and greatly influenced the lives of many generations and the story is only in its beginning,
This boy was born the 27 Mar. 1776, not long afterwards his mother died, leaving him to the care of an Aunt Dorothie Brown who soon after married the boy's father from that union other children were born. One boy, William, played a part in the story that I am about to tell.
This family was reasonably prosperous. They had a plantation with slaves and raised cotton and tobacco. However, these two boys, John and William, were not satisfied to stay in the swamps and lowlands. The call of the west was in their blood, along with such men as the Boons and Lincolns they started that long hard journey that took them through the Cumberland Gap, a distance of about 400 miles. The trail that led into the new land of Kentucky was almost impassible.
Nothing is known of this period of their lives. One can imagine, however, as he now drives over that highway through the hills of Kentucky, down the winding valleys through West Virginia, turning around the point of hills, every hundred yards, for at least 200 miles, that their journey was, to say the least, very winding and the wooded land covered with grass must have been an interesting sight to them.
The first authentic information we get is a marriage license which simply says "John Woodland and Ruth McGee, married, the 21 Sep. 1813, Bath County Kentucky." This county is about 100 miles west of the West Virginia state line not far from Lexington, Kentucky.
How long they stayed there is not known. All we have is that two children were born to them, two little girls, between that date and the early summer of 1818 these two children and mother, Ruth McGee, died. All within two weeks time with a disease that swept the country at the time known as "Cold Plague" Aunt Nancy has this to say about it. "Her father said that he came in the house one day and the oldest child came and he took her on his knees, she complained that her feet were cold. He cuddled her to him and felt of her feet which were like ice, he warmed her feet. but soon found she was burning with fever. From that moment death had struck, within two weeks his young wife and two babies were taken from him by death."
The next information of him is when he reached the west boundary line of Kentucky. From here we have the following story. As they, and by "they" we assume that William, his brother and the Hunt family were with him, they were waiting at the ferry owned by a man named Noah Steepleford, to cross the Ohio River into Illinois. (It is well remembered that the trend of these early settlers was westward. This place on the Wabash River is north of Bath County where five years before this, he married Ruth McGee). While waiting here he saw a young lady picking polk berries, to dye clothes and was attracted by her. Before leaving the place he made her acquaintance. Not long after this Celia Steepleford, born 7 May 1801 Baron County, Kentucky, became the wife of John Woodland. The marriage must have taken place in June as their first child, Polly was born in Edwards County, Illinois, 17 Apr 1819. Edwards County, Illinois is about twenty-five miles northwest of the Kentucky state line. It is between the big and little Wabash Rivers.
There they lived for at least eighteen years for we have record of Henry Harrison Woodland, born 17 June 1838 Edwards County, Illinois. We also have a record of eight children born at this place between the date of Polly's birth, 27 Apr.1819 and Henry's, 17 June 1836. There were ten children born to them in Edwards County, near Albion which is the county seat, here at Edwards County they seemed to prosper and accumulate property, for they had land and stock, at that time which is spoken of a little later in our story, they had money to buy the property of Jefferson Hunt who went to join the Saints in North Missouri of which we will say more later.
America, during this period, was new and everywhere frontiers. Every community had to clear its own ground, build its own houses and schools, which of necessity were crude, but made the kind of men and women that history likes to tell about. John Woodland and Celia Steepleford were no exception to the rule as we think back over their accomplishments during these years our hearts swell with pride.
About this time also, over in the western part of New York, a young man by the name of Joseph Smith had created quite a stir as he had received some remarkable records and had been visited by a Heavenly-Messenger. A New book had been published, a new church-organized known as the Church of Jesus Christ, "called Mormons". One day while at Albion in company with Jefferson Hunt, John Woodland attended a meeting and heard a young man preaching. This man told them a strange story. From this point I will tell a story written by my sister, Mary, as father (William W. Woodland) related it to her.
"After leaving the meeting and bidding goodnight to Jefferson Hunt, he was impressed to pray. He knelt by a stump and prayed. The evil one tried to overcome him but he cast it off and was satisfied that, the Gospel was true. Through this testimony he in company with Jefferson Hunt, was baptized."
"After joining the. Church, Jefferson Hunt, became dissatisfied and wanted to sell his place and go with the Mormons in Missouri, John Woodland bought it. That night, after buying the place, an angle appeared to him and showed him his future home and told him to go search it out. Next morning Jefferson Hunt came to John Woodland's home, brother Woodland told him if he would wait a few days that he would accompany him to Missouri. He told brother Hunt about a dream; that an angel had showed him his home, that he would know the place by a tree there, that he was to go to that tree, place his back against it take twenty-five steps west that he would find a spring with white boiling sand in it and that he would know that this was his home.
In a few days they saddled their horses, taking blankets and axes, they traveled into Missouri. After a few days brother Hunt found a place that suited him, so they stayed there and built a house to hold the land. Brother Hunt then asked brother Woodland which way he was going to find a home, and was told he was impressed by the spirit to go north. They went north across the prairie for about two miles, the saw a grove with a tall tree in it, brother Woodland exclaimed: "There is the tree I saw in my dream." They road to the grove; brother Hunt held the horses while brother Woodland went to the tree; placed his back against it and stepped twenty-five paces west where he found a spring just as he had seen it in his dream. He then called brother Hunt to come and have a drink. But brother Hunt laughed, as he didn't think there was water anywhere around, but there was a beautiful spring, where they both drank. They then built a home to comply with the law, and returned to their families. Brother Woodland sold his home and moved to the new home which the Lord had showed him.
After living on and improving his new home for about a year the Prophet Joseph Smith came to visit them. After looking over the place, he said, "brother John what a pretty place you have, what would you take for it for the Stake of Zion?" If it is the will of the Lord, take it and give another place as good. Brother Joseph stood for a moment, dropped his chin on his bosom, turned pale, a light shown around him, After standing in this attitude for about fifteen minutes, he raised his head and said, "Brother John, I won't have your place for the Lord showed it to you and you had faith to search it out." He then placed his hands on brother Woodland's head and sealed the place unto him and his posterity for life and all eternity. He told him to never sell the place. He was afterwards offered a great amount of money for it, but he would not sell it and forbade all his posterity to ever sell it. Brother Woodland remained on the place until they were driven away by the mob. They went to Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Brother John Woodland's wife's mother died 27 Oct. 1838. The mob was so bad they could not go after lumber to make a coffin. So they buried her in a cloths box which was not long enough; and her feet stuck out about six inches. A scene which was a trial they never forgot. It was in the dead of winter, they had not shelter except a wagon and some brush stuck up with quilts.
"While at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, the mob came and was going to take brother Woodland's wagon, because they said it was the only one that could haul the big cannon. Brother Woodland said that he would burst the head of the first person that came to take, the wagon, with his ax. General Clark, the leader of the military stepped up and forbid anyone to touch the wagon. General Clark then said, "Brother Woodland, I will give you a pass," and ordered his clerk to write it. But brother Woodland would not accept it, unless General Clark would write it with his own hand, for fear that the mob would think it a bogus, so General Clark wrote it, that gave him a pass out of the state of Missouri. They left there for Far West. One day while camped at noon in some trees, he and his children were in front of the wagon, the mother lay sick in the wagon. Brother Woodland heard a noise, he looked up, and there he saw a train of chariots moving through the air. They were much the same as the trains now days. The smoke could be seen coming from them. They were loaded with people dressed in white. They went and settled down over from Farr West, so they went down on the bottoms a short distance from Farr West. They camped there until Farr West surrendered. While at the bottoms brother Smith sent word to brother James Woodland (son of John Woodland) to leave the state for the mob was after him and wanted to kill him. When brother James received the word, he left with the company of a cousin, brother Underwood. As they started to leave brother John called to his wife, Celia and said, "Mother, come see him alive." They never heard from him again. All they ever knew was that were two new made graves.
They went from there to Adams County, Illinois, they lived there four years then, they went to Hancock County. From there they were driven to Ohio. On the Big Mosquiette, then to Utah (then called the State of Dessert) in 1850. They moved to Willard in 1853.
In the move from Illinois to Missouri it will be observed that grandfather crossed the state of Illinois up the Mississippi river to a point near Quincy.
They went westward across the state of Missouri until they reached the Grand River, then followed this river up to where the county seat, Galliton is now located, in Davis County.
They crossed the river and went six miles north and settled somewhere in the valley a place called Spring Hill. This was no doubt in the fall of 1836 or in the spring of 1837. In June the Prophet Joseph Smith organized a Stake of Zion at Adam-Ondi-Ahman. In May of that year is the time he talked to grandfather and blessed him. At that time grandfather had his place in good condition and a house built on the land. It must of been a year or two between the time of leaving Illinois and the time of which we have just spoken.
We, Blanche and I, traveled the same route, as we reached the town of Galliton we went to the court house and tried to find where our people had settled but were unsuccessful, All the records had been destroyed that told anything about the Latter-Day-Saints, as we were told by the attendant in the court house. The editor had written a brief chapter on the Mormons in his paper in 1936. At that time they had celebrated the Centennial of Davis County. It was a flimsy effort to justify the Mormons. The editor remarked, "you ought to be glad for us sending the Mormons away, as Utah is a more desirable place to live in than Missouri." I told him that we had no hatred in our hearts, in fact we love all men. He had been in Utah. And was loud in praise for our homeland.
We drove to a school house about three miles from Adam-Ondi-Ahman, where we left the main highway, wound around several fields and soon came to an old deserted house, on top of a hill where the remands of an alter. We were told it was the alter spoken of by the prophet. From this elevation we could see to the west, to the north and to the east. The river came down from the north. Made an abrupt turn to the east for about five miles then turns south again. There on the north slope was the home of Lyman White, where the Prophet came to organize a Stake of Zion, 21 June 1838- Somewhere under our eyes was the place where great events had taken place, as spoken of in the D and C. Here uncle Solomon was born 22 Oct 1838 only six miles away. Aunt Nancy married James Whitaker 16 Jan 1878, in 0ct. of the same year, Malanda was born. Here tragedy was also suffered beginning with a election held in Aug. In that same the persecution of the Saints was again commenced with fury that defies description, as told in the story just recounted. Here 4 Jan 1838 Noah and Elizabeth were buried. Their deaths were caused by exposure resulting from the mobbing in the dead of winter while they were sick with measles. Here grandfather was in delicate health before uncle Solomon's birth, was driven out of his home and the home was burned. After the home was burned by the mob grandfather put a curse on the land, that it would be of no good to anyone except his righteous posterity. Here however was a sacred place, hallowed by the presents of Adam, our first father. Here a great council was held as recounted by the prophet Daniel. Another council is to be held again when Adam comes to bless his people. Here grandfather and his posterity will some day gather, then the scene will be greatly changed. The land will be made glorious and beautiful.
The hardships of the winter, 1838-39 will never all be told. The Prophet Joseph records in his history, that the sight was one that could not be erased from his mind for Oct 18 the mob made an attack on the settlers, burning their homes and driving them out in the cold rain which continued to fall for several days. The one thing that increased the suffering was that several of the sisters in delicate health were forced to face the storm and bear their sorrows. It will be recalled that uncle Solomon was born at that time and place. After the surrender of Far West Apr 1839, they continued their journey over the same road that they had hopefully traveled two years before on their way to Zion. Now with weary hearts they were leaving here. Near Farr West, James the eldest son, rode away never to be heard of again. But through it all they had abiding faith. Not long after this we find them at Columbus, Illinois.
It was Jan 1840 that Lucind was born. James Whitaker was born at Aunt Nancy's May 7, grandfathers brother, William, must have. Been living. In the church history of 1839 there was an account of those who signed a pledge to give their property and strength to help the poor leave the city and state before the date of extermination, his name was on the list. The family no doubt, lived in Adams county for about four years then moved to Hancock county, as Martha Jane was born at Nauvoo, 4 Mar 1843. Leander Whitaker was born there 15 Jan 1844. The family still lived there when the Prophet was murdered, for the records show that Temple work was done at Nauvoo after the death of the Prophet. My father William Woodland spoke of the days that followed the martyrdom. He was present when the claim of Sidney Rigdon was made. The mantel of Joseph fell on Brigham Young.
Aunt Nancy's son, William born 6 Dec 1846, near Council Bluff, Iowa also a daughter, Elizabeth, born 25 May 1849 at the same place. Uncle Daniel Brown Woodland born 30 Jul 1847 at Pottawamie County, Iowa. Uncle Thomas Woodland and Margaret Whitaker were married at Kaneville, Pottawattamie County, 8 Feb 1849. Their son Thomas was born at the same place, 19 May 1850. From these dates we can get a fair idea of where about of the family during these troubled days from 1339-1850.
It will be remembered that John Wakley, aunt Polly and William Woodland came out to Utah in 1848, built two houses in Salt Lake City, one for the Wakley's and one for grandfather, at that time grandfather was about 75 years old. They reached Salt Lake City in the autumn 1850. They came in company No. 6. Joseph Young was caption of 100 and Gordon Snow was caption of 50 under Joseph Young. John Woodland's family was in Gordon Snow's company. This company arrived in Salt Lake City 1 Oct 1850. They remained there until 1853, then moved to Willard, Utah, where they spent their last days.
Grandfather died 8 Nov 1869. Grandmother died 7 Jan 1881. In her last days, as she grew old, she seemed to live over those troubled days in Missouri. At times fancied that the mob was at her door. When the fear was gone, that beautiful face would brighten and she thanked God for deliverance. So at last the end came where on fear of clouds darkened the path where she awaits the crown of a saint, a queen to reign forever.
Grandfather longed to realize the blessing pronounced on his head by Joseph the prophet in 1838, that he should live until the Savior came to reign upon the Earth if he so desired. This blessing he hung to until he reached the ripe age of 94. He was carried away in a trance into the spirit world, while his body, old and worn rested on a couch, the family and friends gathered around to mourn his death, he saw the beauties of heaven and the crown that awaited him. After several hours his spirit returned to his body, his desires then changed. He bore his testimony to the truth of the gospel and the divinity of Joseph Smith. Not long after this his spirit was released and went to join those he had lived, worked and suffered with while on earth.
His life was one continuous round of endeavors, his testimony ever fresh and positive and his dying admonition, a prayer for his posterity.
Both grandfather and grandmother were laid to rest in the old cemetery at Willard, Utah.
Stephen Woodland ...............….…….1563
William Woodland .................……….1585
John Woodland ..................…………1629
John Woodland ..................…………1651
William Woodland .....................…….1673
William Woodland ...............…...……1701
Frances Woodland ...............….….....1723
John Woodland .....................….……1751
John Woodland ..........……...….……27 Mar. 1776
Thomas Steepleford Woodland.…......28 Oct 1825
Joseph Teancum Woodland ...…..…...8 Feb 1858
Joseph Morrison Woodland...….….…4 Aug 1883
Arthur Joseph Woodland.....…….…..25 Apr 1908