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.
Posted by David B.