Monday, July 27, 2015

{History of Mapleton} Stephen Chadwick Perry

This is from The History of Mapleton, by Ralph K. Harmer and Wendell B. Johnson, on page 162-163.

Mary Boggs and Stephen Chadwick Perry

Stephen Chadwick Perry’s descendants have called him a “Monument to the pioneer spirit.” His life story and abundant posterity assume a biblical aspect. Perhaps he could be likened to a nineteenth-century Abraham. Stephen Chadwick Perry was born at Middlebury, Genesse County, New York, on December 18, 1818. His parents, Asahel Perry and Polly Chadwick, were adherents to traditional New England Protestantism until 1832 when they accepted Mormonism. Stephen, who greatly respected his father’s fundamentalist teachings, also became a member. Completely devoted to their new religion, the Perrys embarked on an uncertain, ambulatory life adventure. Where the church moved, they followed. Subsequently, they moved from New York to Kirtland, Ohio, then to Missouri, and when compelled to flee from the state under threat of extermination by an unscrupulous Ochlocratic government, they settled in Commerce, or Nauvoo, Illinois.

At Nauvoo, Stephen was ordained an elder and took his first wife, Susannah Colista Hidden. They were married June 6, 1840. Tragedy ended Susannah’s life after three short years of marriage. She died in childbirth, and two days later the baby, Stephen Hidden Perry, died. The months that followed were dark, lonely and sorrowful. His grief was consoled only by putting the past to rest and starting life anew. A year passed and Stephen married Anna Marie Hulett, formerly of Portage County, Ohio. They made their home in Nauvoo where their first child, Mahonri Moriancumer Perry was born. The child died prior to 1846 when the Mormons left Illinois.

Stephen mentions during the Nauvoo era that he was a bodyguard of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was an intimate friend, and spoke to him the night before the Carthage Jail assassination. The memory of that infamous murder plot was devastating, especially to one purporting to be a bodyguard. Stephen and Anna Maria endured many hardships incident to mobocracy and severe weather which plagued the hurried and ill-planned exodus from Nauvoo. Anna recalled the “bitter cold” and how the wagons “creaked on the snow as they moved along.”

Spring arrived and the trek across the mud-laden Midwest led them to Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. There they found refuge, good pasturage, and time to recuperate from the past ordeal. While at Mt. Pisgah two children were born: a daughter, Tryphena Roseltha, and a son, Lewis Rosalvo. Stephen was not present when his son was born. He was somewhere in New York State on a proselyting mission for the church. After he returned to Iowa, Stephen, his parents, Anna Maria and the children joined the Bennett company of wagons for the long grueling march across the plains.

After four exhausting months they arrived in Salt Lake valley only to discover that their journey was not over. They were ordered to go south to the Hobble Creek area. They were among the first wagons to arrive there in October, 1850. A fortress of cottonwood logs was built on the northeast section of the townsite and the families were assigned a small, crude cabin in which to live. The Perrys lived in the fortress until the following year when Stephen built a cabin south of the settlement and established a farm. In 1854 Stephen entered the principle of plural marriage. He took an 18 year old woman from Kentucky, Margaret Eleanor Stewart, recently divorced, as his second wife. The second wife had three children during her marriage to Stephen. For unspecified reasons the marriage ended in divorce nine years later.

In 1855 Stephen was called on a mission to southern Utah to help colonize the area. He and other Elders penetrated the blistering deserts as far south as Las Vegas in their efforts to locate habitable settlements. Much to the dismay of the wives back home, he was away for two years. (Not many wives today would allow their husbands to spend two years alone in Las Vegas.)

On his return to Springville, Stephen married a third wife—Mary Boggs, 14 year-old daughter of Francis and Evaline Boggs. She was born April 12, 1843 at Nauvoo, Illinois. Despite the 15 year difference in their ages, they were very compatible during their 31 years of marriage. Mary bore eleven children between 1858 and 1883; Anna Marie Hulett had six children; and Margaret Stewart had three, making 20 children in all.

In 1877, Stephen moved his wife, Mary Boggs and family to Union Bench to settle on acreage exempted under the Homestead Act. The bench was sparsely populated and water was scarce, and Indians were a constant worry. The ground yielded grudgingly to farming efforts. Summed up, it was a lonely, difficult struggle to live in such an isolated, barren place. The Union Bench property was used mostly as a summer home. In the winter the family returned to Springville. This continued until 1888 when Mary decided to move to the bench permanently.

By trade Stephen Perry made chairs. The children remembered playing on the high stacks of unfinished frames and helping their father cure and weave the rawhide netting which made the seat. Many of his chairs are still in existence today. Stephen would sit on his own favorite chair, gather the children around, and tell them of his adventures. He told about his participation in the Black Hawk War, and how he was one of the messengers chosen to negotiate a peace treaty with Chief Walker, whose tribe was encamped in Payson Canyon. He related how he barely escaped death at the hands of a vengeful Indian brave—a tale of savagery that always caught the wide-eyed imagination of the children and enamored their father as a brave, heroic figure.

Stephen filled his third and final mission to the Eastern States. While there he preached among his own relatives but with little success. He spent his last years at home. His soul was tired of the strenuous traveling which he had carried out with such zeal in his youth. He was now content to stay home, follow his trade, and enjoy the younger children. One afternoon while loading supplies at Springville, he slipped and fell from the wagon, injuring himself severely. He never recovered. He was taken to his home in Springville where he died two days later, on November 16, 1888.

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