I hope I don’t lose my audience here, but I have found some family history that I think is interesting. While we keep saying that we are different from the RLDS, we do have a common history, and maybe for many of us, a joyous future.
My family, the Haws family, is one of the largest families in the Church. I read recently that my great-great-grandfather, Gilberth Haws’ family is the 175th largest in the Church. This is amazing considering the fact that he was not a polygamist, though several of his sons were. Needless to say, the Haws family genealogy has been pretty well worked over by all of my relatives. All of the “low hanging fruit” has been “picked” as they say.
While I was in Africa I tried to get on a tall ladder and see if I could pick any remaining fruit on the farthest branches. Well, I actually climbed so far that I found myself on a totally different tree, one with the same name, but a different tree. It was fun to do family history and temple work for people named Haws, even though my connection to them was somewhat blurred.
We miss Africa, especially the Ghana Temple. We did some very special Temple work while we were there.
While here in Missouri, in my spare time (ha ha), I have also been doing some more family research. This time I have been looking at Debi’s family. Her maiden name is Fowler. Her father and my mother were both born in Hooper. In fact, her grandfather and my grandfather were best friends. Hers spoke at my grandfather’s funeral. Her father moved away and she grew up in another town and went to a different high school, but we share an ancestral “home town”, Hooper, Utah.
Her Fowler ancestors came from England. She has a multitude of aunts, cousins and grandmothers who have also done family genealogy. Her mother also did mountains of work searching out their family. Debi’s great-grandfather, whose name was Samuel Fowler, was born in England in 1823. He came to Utah and Hooper and died there in 1918.
There is a very prominent family here in Kansas City named Fowler. Many of the men have been bankers and businessmen and community leaders. They also came from England, though they came to America much earlier than Debi’s family did. I have done some looking into this family but as yet I have not been able to tie the two together. Still, Fowler is a Kansas City name.
In my dabbling, I came across another man also named Samuel Fowler (not Debi’s ancestor). He was born in New York in 1790 and married a woman named Susanna Hart. They had 6 children. Along with many of the folks from their area, they became associated with Joseph Smith and the Church. Another man from the same area was named Seth Hitchock.
In 1834, missionaries from Kirtland fanned out through the various branches of the Church recruiting men to join Joseph Smith to travel to Missouri as part of a group that would be known as Zions Camp. Seth Hitchock joined. I am still trying to determine if Samuel Fowler joined as well. Samuel's wife, Susanna died about this time leaving him with children, so perhaps he did not go.
Zions camp has a fascinating story that ends near here on the north side of the Missouri River. After avoiding a major disaster that would have ended in a real war—perhaps we all remember that there was a terrible storm at Fishing River that caused the Missouri Militia/Mob to disperse—the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that Zions Camp’s mission was complete.
This was hard on the men, but what made it even harder was a terrible plague that attacked them. It was Cholera. This scared all of them as it struck with such swiftness and fury that literally a man could be standing healthy and strong one moment, and then down and sick, and dying the next. The first man to die was Seth Hitchock. Even Joseph Smith, who stepped forward to “rebuke the devourer” was struck and almost died as well.
This all happened, as I said, near here. There is a monument very close to the Kansas City Temple remembering Zions Camp.
Now Seth’s wife was a widow with 7 children and Samuel Fowler was a widower with 6 children. So, they joined forces and married. Eventually they had 5 more children. Her name was Sarah Ann Rhodes.
In Kirtland, Samuel was a member of the Seventies’ Quorum. His brethren determined to migrate to Zion in a group. This became known as the Kirtland Camp. They traveled the 870 miles in 1838, arriving on October 4, 1838. Remember, Haun’s Mill Massacre occurred on October 30, 1838, so they arrived just as things were really getting difficult.
The Fowler/Hitchock family was driven out and along with the Saints, ending up in Nauvoo. Samuel received his Temple Endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on December 22, 1845. He became a High Priest and was also a missionary.
When the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo, Samuel and his family moved again. Sadly, he died at Council Bluffs (Winter Quarters), Nebraska on June 29, 1848.
Another young man named Seeley Reeves and his young wife were also in this tragic story. He was born in New Jersey, but his family story parallels that of the Fowlers and the Hitchcock’s. His wife, Mary Polly Buesenbark had a baby at Winter Quarters in June of 1846. Mary Polly died the next February, 1847. Then the baby boy died in August. Seeley was now a young widower.
Seeley then married a daughter of Samuel Fowler, whose name was Susan Fowler. They eventually had 9 children. The interesting thing is that instead of going west, as most of Susan’s brothers and sisters, step-brothers and sisters, and half-brothers and sisters did, Seeley and Susan turned east and returned to Missouri. Perhaps to land previously owned and occupied by his family.
North of here is their town of Holt, Missouri. We have been there several times. All of the Reeve children were born there and most of the family died there. While their cousins were in Utah, struggling to get a foot-hold in the desert, they were working their farms and businesses in Missouri, a state that had driven their people, and their fathers and mothers, into the cold and out of the state.
My Haws family joined the Church in Illinois. They were really 10 families, brothers and sisters. Eventually 6 of the ended up in Utah, 4 stayed in Illinois. In my search, I found that the 4 that stayed later joined with Joseph Smith III and the group that was rounding up those who remained. They became part of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This is not a story we have heard a lot about, but it must have occurred many times. I wonder why the Missouri Mobs allowed some of the Mormons to return unmolested. I also wonder how those who remained felt about their family that went west. I have read about my great-grandfather’s mission to try to reclaim his family. They received him as a member of the family, but did not follow him back to the Church.
While some of these people may not our direct ancestors, they are all part of the collective “us” that makes up the Church and the human family. I hope that in the long run we can all come back together and rejoice in being in one fold with one shepherd. I know that many of the descendants of these RLDS people are coming to us and becoming members of our Church. Even a direct descendant of Joseph Smith and his wife was baptized recently. He has quite a story to tell.