Stephen Kelsey

 

The Paris Post, Thursday, May 31, 1900

 

LIFE OF STEPHEN KELSEY

The Events That Made up the Life of One of Utah’s Noble Band of Pioneers

Stephen Kelsey one of the survivors of the pioneers of Utah, died on Tuesday at his home in Paris, Bear Lake County, Ida. He was nearly 70 years of age being born December 23, 1830 in northeastern Ohio. He was educated in Ohio, but removed to Nauvoo in 1842 and to Winter Quarters in 1846. In 1847 when only 17 years of age, he volunteered to accompany Brigham Young on the pioneer trip. Mr. Kelsey arrived in Salt Lake Valley July 23, 1847 and his first work was to help build a dam across City creek in order to turn the water over the land so that it could be ploughed. The work was accomplished and potatoes were planted, but it was then so late in the season that the tubers only grew to the size of marbles. His next work was to assist in making adobes with which to build a fort to protect themselves from the Indians.

Shortly after Mr. Kelsey arrived in Salt Lake valley he was converted to the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the same season volunteered to return to the States with Brigham Young to assist other emigrants across the plains the following spring. After his return to Utah he engaged in farming, and in 1850 made a trip to the gold mining districts of California, where he was washed out in tow months with a little rocker, about $500 in gold dust. This was at Weavertown. On his way back to Salt Lake City, however, the party with which he traveled was attacked by Indians and for four hours they fought desperately for their lives. They barely escaped and in the encounter lost many of their horses. In the fall of 1850 Mr. Kelsey started with his uncle, Daniel Allen, twelve miles south of Salt Lake City and there he married Lydia Snyder, who has since been to him a faithful companion and helpmeet, sharing with him in all the joys and sorrows, the adversity and prosperity of life. She has been one of the brave pioneer women of Utah and Idaho and has greatly aided her husband in making a home.

In 1864 a company was formed to go to what is now Bear Lake county, Ida, then supposed to be a part of Utah. Apostle Charles C Rich was the president of the company. Bro Kelsey and his wife volunteered to go and others of the company were Hezekiah Dunin and Thomas Sleight, both of whom still live in Paris. They settled at Paris, but most of the company of emigrants is now deceased. They were allotted land and began farming, but it was a very hard country to settle and they endured many hardships and met many difficulties during those first few years. Grasshoppers and frost injured their crops but through it all, Pres Rich’s faith never wavered and he encouraged his noble band of pioneers to persevere in their labors until ultimately their labor were beautifully rewarded and the country was made to blossom as the rose. When the land was surveyed, the settlers entered their farms with the Government.

Stephen Kelsey was the father of twelve children, eleven of whom are living, namely: Electa Abigail, now the wife of Frederick Sleight; Lydia, wife of Samuel Payne; Sylvia, wife of John Skinner; Alice, wife of Samuel Nate; Mary, wife of Edward Johnston; Bess, wife of C Chapman; Viena, Minerva, Zina, Robert and Easton.

Mr. Kelsey was a high priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a faithful laborer among the people in his ward, which received regular visits from him in the capacity of a visiting priest.

It was his delight to relate incidents connected with his trip across the plains with Brigham Young and at the Sunday school jubilee exercises last October took much satisfaction in addressing the children here upon that journey. He related that when Brigham Young was very sick and suffered greatly with loss of appetite that he went to the camp corral one evening and found there a prairie chicken. He picked up a buffalo chip (sic) killed it, then took it to his wagon, cleaned it and fixed it up in a palatable manner for Brigham Young who ate it with relish, it being the only meal he had enjoyed for several days. Mr. Kelsey looked upon this as a peculiar incident as this chicken was the only one seen at the camping place.

The funeral servers over the remains of Brother Kelsey were held in the Tabernacle on Thursday, May 24. There was a very large attendance and lots of flowers. The members of the large family of the deceased were present. The choir furnished beautiful singing and the remarks by Elders James Athay, Thomas Sleight, President Jas H Hart and Wm Budge were consoling and instructive. The cortege to the cemetery was very lengthy, everyone seeming to have a desire to pay a last tribute of respect to the departed pioneer.

 

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