Thursday, June 02, 2005

David Lewis - Pioneer Forefather

David Lewis, and his first wife Duritha Trail.
Photo taken about 1850.

As part of our Memorial Day weekend trip, we stopped in Parowan to visit the grave of David Lewis. He was one of Dawn Anns ancestors, and an early member of the Church. He, and his brothers had settled at Haun's Mill, Missouri. On October 30, 1838, anti-Mormon mobs (In The guise of the Missouri Militia) descended on the small Mormon villiage. Just two days before, the mob/militia had demanded that the residents of Hauns Mill disarm themselves - which they mostly did. (You can read David's own account of the Haun's Mill Massacre here. This is a sworn deposition he wrote to petition for redress to the State of Missouri for damages he suffered at Haun's Mill.)

Now the armed mob/militia came with a force of 300 men and surrounded the men and boys of the community in a blacksmth's shop. They then began firing upon the men and boys - taking great delight in killing and wounding the men, and even took delight in killing the little boys.

David and 2 of his brothers were present in that blacksmith's shop. David's older brother, Benjamin was criticlly wounded, and died later that night.

Another older brother, Tarleton Lewis was shot multiple times. One wound was in his shoulder, with the bullet being lodged near his spinal column. He would survive Hauns Mill, and later come West with the Mormon Pioneers. Later, Tarleton would be called as the first Bishop of Salt Lake City.

At the time of the Haun's Mill Massacre, David Lewis had been sick for some time -- possibly with Cholera. He had just regained enough strength to walkwhen the mob descended upon their villiage. David, found himself along with his these two brothers in the blacksmith's shop. They all realized that they had to get out of the blacksmith's shop if they were going to have any chance to survive. Tarletonand Benjamin took off on the run. David, because of his recent illness could not run, but only walk. He left the blacksmith's shop and headed for a fence, the other side of which was a forested area that would provide some cover.

As David made his wayto the fence, numerous shots were fired at him. David had been blessed with a comforing spirit by the Holy Ghost that he would not die of a bullet wound. So in faith, he made his way accross the open area toward the fence. He heard several shots go whizzing past his head, but he kept on going. The commanders of the militia were cussing out their men because they couldn't seem to hit him. Later, an examination of his clothing would reveal numerous bullet holes, but there were no wounds to his flesh.

David made it over the fence, and hid in the woods. Eventually, he was taken prisoner by the militia. The next morning, he asked the militia if he could go check on his family, and that afterword, he would return and surrender himself to them again. Atfirst the militiamen scoffed and mocked him at the idea that he would ever return. hDavid gave his word of honor yhe wouldin fact return.

They let him go, not really expecting him to return. However David did just as he said he would. He found that Benjamin had died that night of his wounds, and that Tarleton had been seriously injured. He checked his wife, and is own familh, and then returned to the camp of the militia.

For a short period of time, David fetched wood, hauled water, and cooked meals for the militia men. After that he asked if he could return permanently to his family. By then, the hearts of the militiamen were softened toward David. They gave him a permission slip to move about the area, signed by the commander of the militia, which would prove to be a blessing to David and his family.

Later on David, like his brother Tarleton, would come west with the Mormon Pioneers. He was instrumental in the settlement of communities in Southern Utah. He also was a missionary to the Indians and helped with developing diplomatic relations with the Indians in the Southern Utah area.

You Can Read more accounts of David Lewis' life after arriving in Utah below:

The Early Settlement of Utah's Dixie
The Southern Indian Mission
A Mystery In The Desert

David Lewis' Headstone at Parowan Cemetery

Click on Photo for Larger Image

David passed away in Parowan, Utah, possibly of a stroke of some kind. It was an honor to visit his grave, and to remember him and the sacrifices he and his family made for the Gospel's sake.


Anonymous said...

I, too, am a decendent of David Lewis. Ever since I read his journal, I have been most interested in learning about his life, visiting his grave, his property in Nauvoo, and even standing guard at the construction of the Nauvoo temple as he did so many years ago. May I ask where you got a copy of his photo? I assume for the book that was compiled for the Lewis family? I'd love a high-resolution scan if you have one.Please email me at Thank you!

Momma Banna said...

I am a decendant of Tarleton Lewis, possibly the only LDS member of his descendants. Thank you for this informative blog!

The Grandmother Here said...

Momma Banna, you are not alone. My daughter-in-law says she's descended from Tarleton Lewis too and she has lots of family in the LDS Church.

Billie said...

David is my 3rd great grandpa. I lost a copy of his journal in the Joplin F-5 tornado that just hit a couple weeks ago. does anyone havea a copy? I have a large copy of this photo and a copy of he and Duritha's endowment register in storage unit in Arizona. I would be happy to make/send copies of it to anyone wanting a large, framable copy. If anyone can share his journal, or would like a copy of the photo larger, my email is I'm glad to be connected to some Lewis cousins. Billie

Wendy McDaniel said...

I am also a decedent of David Lewis; through his father Siney Lewis, then his son also named Siney, and he and his wife Helena Hoeft gave birth to my grandmother, Nellie Rae Lewis, who married James Fera McDaniel (my Grandpa who passed away 2005.) She passed away Jan. 2010. I am in awe reading about David's life, and I hope to also visit his grave. It was awesome to learn where he is buried; I thought maybe he was buried at the Salt Lake City cemetery. There is a headstone that bears the name "David Lewis" but has no other information. Thank you for the pictures, and the information. I have 7 brothers and sisters (3 brothers 4 sisters) and they will all enjoy this new found information. THANK YOU!!!

Wendy McDaniel said...

P.S As far as I know all of my grandma's side related to David are all LDS, including myself, and my entire extended family.

jdowning5 said...

My name is Julie Downing and I too am A descendant of David Lewis through Siney Sr, Siney Jr. and Berta Elizabeth Lewis. Berta was my grandmother who became inactive when she married my grandfather who was not a member, but she made sure her 3 children, one of them being my dad Edward Darwin DuRee, went to church. My dad and his brother William remained active throughout their lives. William passed away about 2 years ago and my father is still living strong in the gospel. My father visited Nauvoo back when the temple was dedicated and was able to be on the land that David owned . I would some day like to visit as well. I did take my family to visit his grave in Parowan and it was amazing. I do have a copy of his journal but it is currently in storage as we are in the middle of a move. Feel free to email me Thanks for your blog!

Anonymous said...

I know it's been awhile since anyone posted any comments but just in case you read this, I'm also a descendent of David Lewis and Duritha Trail through Preston King Lewis (his son)and Sarah Coleman. There is a Neriah Lewis and Descendants book published by K. Howard Lewis. Also, there are other books published about David when he served a mission for the church in Parawan, UT as an Indian interpreter. He is on a monument in Southern Utah. His history is fascinating.