John Horsecroft Wyatt


Spouse: Julia Ann Leavitt


John Horsecroft Wyatt was born in Hove, Sussex, England, 2 December, 1849, the first child born to John Moses Wyatt and Sarah Caroline Horsecroft. His parents were converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on June 21, 1852. They decided to leave their homeland and gather to Zion, but experienced great opposition from their families who tried to prevent them for leaving by hiding young John. Fortunately he was found in time to sail from Liverpool, England, on February 2, 1853, when John was 4 years old.

The Atlantic crossing was made during the stormy season and required ten weeks. At New Orleans on April 23, 1853. They traveled up the Mississippi River to Keobuk, Iowa where they were organized in an ox team company. They walked most of the way across the plains, and finally arrived in Salt Lake City, after many hardships, on October 5, 1853. http://lds.org/churchhistory/library/pioneerdetails/0,15791,4018-1-13704,00.html

Their second son, Charles was born September 2, 1853, in Green River, Wyoming during the trek but could not endure the hardship of travel and died on 18 December 1853.

Upon arrival in Salt Lake City, John's father was employed by Brigham Young as a gardener for about 6 years. During this period they lived in a log cabin belonging to President Young that was located in the Twentieth Ward. John remembered his first Christmas in Salt Lake City. His father whittled a doll out of wood which John found in his stocking on Christmas morning. President Young played Santa Claus to all the children in the fort. He visited each cabin and when he came to the Wyatt home he took young John upon his knee and gave him cookies and molasses candy. John later remembered how good the treats were.

John was baptized when eight years old by Brother Kessler in City Creek, and recalled having two narrow escapes while living in Salt Lake City. "I came near drowning in the Jordan River. I went down three times when a man rescued me." And another time, as recorded in the history of his sister Sarah Helen and given in her words, "Our home in Salt Lake was a log room plastered with clay. One night a driving rain storm came up. After we had gone to bed the rain washed the mud from between the bricks which caused the walls to give away. They all fell in except the corner where brother John and I were sleeping. Father and mother ran out with my two year old sister Josephine just before the roof came down. They couldn't find us. Father called and John answered, "We are over in the corner." He stood in front of me protecting me with his arms. Father helped us out over the fallen roof to the sidewalk. President Brigham Young heard of our trouble. He came and told father to bring his family to his home. We were soon safely in bed at President Young's home."

In the spring of 1860, when John was 11 years old, Brigham Young called them to go and help settle Cache Valley. The Wyatt family joined a company of Saints just north of Salt Lake City. There were about thirty wagons in the company with Thomas Hall as leader and Jim Williamson as assistant.

This was a hard trip for the Wyatt family. The wagon had to be literally dragged over the hills. One ox gave out and the family cow was hitched in his place, while the small calf followed at her side. The loose cattle were driven by the boys of the company. John assisted in the work, walking all day long.

The company had difficulty in crossing the Weber and Ogden Rivers, as they were in the flood season of the year. These crossings were successfully made however and the party continued on northward to Brigham City along the foot of the mountains. At Brigham City they turned eastward up the canyon where the going become very difficult. Upon reaching Dry Lake the party turned east over the hogback and descended into Cache Valley down the second ravine south of old Bear Gulch, which was very dangerous. It become necessary to fasten a log under the wagon for the men to ride on the upper side to prevent the wagons from tipping over. However, they arrived in Wellsville without mishap.

The Wyatt family had intended on settling in Providence, but there was too much water to cross. The rivers were all at flood stage and water covered a vast portion of the land.

Their first home was a dugout on the Jim Williamson farm on the south side of the hill. They planted a garden and a bear dug it up. Daniel and John Hill came down and shot the bear. In the fall they moved to a dugout in John Brenchley's pasture just south of the present site of the railroad, on the south slope of the side hill. The next summer John helped his father build a little house in the old fort, known as Maughan's Fort. They lived there until Wellsville City was laid out.

John's schooling was at his mother's knee where she taught him his letters from the Book of Mormon so that he learned to read and write. When John was eighteen years old, he was employed for two years by the county to keep the new Sardine Canyon road open, so the mail could come through. Charles Nibley carried the mail at the time. "I built me a little cabin up in the mountains west of Dry Lake. I lived up there alone both winters with my team of oxen, Bummer and Pony, the best yoke of oxen that ever lived. I made one trip a day from there to Wellsville and back again to open the road. In my spare time I studied my letters, sang songs, and learned to calculate. It was there I learned to make shoes."

One winter night the lives of three persons were saved by John Wyatt. They were caught in a blizzard and had lost the road. John heard their cries for help and took them to his cabin where they remained all night. This was a man and his two daughters. The man gave John a double handful of alfalfa seed to pay him in part for his kindness. With this seed John raised his first hay.

As a young man John Wyatt worked with Walter Glenn to learn to be a stone mason. He laid the foundations for a good many homes and built several rock houses including one for his mother and family in the west part of town.

George Parker and John Wyatt built a lime kiln at the mouth of Snow's Canyon. Here they burned lime and hauled it to Ogden to sell. They also built a lime kiln above Mantua about one mile north of town on the east side of the road, The remains of which are still to be seen(destroyed in the road rebuilding 1994-1996). Part of the lime used in building the Logan Temple came from their work.

John Wyatt, Willard Parker, and Tom Jones did freighting to the gold mines in Boise, Idaho. Their outfits each consisted of two and three wagons drawn by six yoke of oxen. On these trips his favorite yoke, Bummer and Pony led his outfit. After this work of freighting he started farming in a bigger way and stayed closer to home. He did considerable work in the canyon getting out logs. "My best place to work was in the canyon. I could cut more logs than any other man who ever took an ax with me. I got the lumber out to build the ZCMI building in Logan," John Wyatt was always able to keep employed, he said many times, "I want to wear out, not rust out."

Before he was married, he bought a small house and lot in the west part of town. He had his eye on the beautiful brown eyed daughter of John and Eleanor Wilson Barnes. Her name was Sarah Jane . John being a practical man, wanted to find out if Sarah Jane was a good housekeeper. One Monday morning, he called at the Barnes home. As his excuse, he wanted to talk to father Barnes. He found his sweetheart washing clothes on a washboard and that convinced him that he had found his true love. Before their marriage, after a hard days work, he would spend his evenings working on their future home and making his first furniture, Sarah Jane would visit with him as he worked.

On November 9, 1874, John Wyatt and Sarah Jane Barnes were married and to this union four children were born. One baby died and on August 3, 1882 Sarah Jane died of typhoid fever, leaving John with three small children. At the time of Sarah Jane's death, John was under contract to build a fence along both sides of the railway between Mendon and Wellsville. This work required him to leave home before dawn and return after dark. At first, his mother took care of the children for him, later he hired a house keeper, Almira Leavitt. Almira didn't want to continue this housekeeping because she had another job, so her 19 year old sister Julia Ann Leavitt became John's housekeeper.

Julia's father was Thomas Roswell Leavitt and her mother was Thomas's second wife Antoinette Davenport. Antoinette had died in childbirth on October 2, 1880 leaving 9 children under the care of the first wife, Ann Eliza Jenkins. On July 5, 1883 Thomas Roswell Leavitt took a third wife, Martha Harriet Dowdle. The federal authorities began to prosecute the polygamists, so Thomas Leavitt went to Alberta Canada, along with Charles Card and helped to settle Cardston. Thomas took his third wife with him, leaving Antoinette's children and Aunt Eliza's family in Wellsville. Thus Julia and the other children were required to take work and fend for themselves.

So, when the 19 year old Julia Leavitt became housekeeper for the handsome young widower, John Wyatt, it is not so strange that a marriage resulted. On November 9, 1882, John Wyatt and Julia Ann Leavitt were married and from this union ten children were born.

Julia's sister, Betsy, who was eight years younger than Julia was invited to live in the Wyatt home where her sister could look after her. Betsy was interested in boys like any teenage girl and caused her family some concern. It was suggested by her sister Julia and her father that she would be better off married to a good man like John Wyatt than running in the streets. By the time Betsy was 19 years old she had ample opportunity to become acquainted with John and his family.

One day John Wyatt took Betsy for a buggy ride and proposed to her. He expressed his love for her and she accepted. Word came through the church that an expedition to Juarez, Mexico was being formed. Anyone wishing to enter into polygamous marriages should join this group under the direction of Brigham Young Jr. Thus, in the spring of 1890, John Wyatt and Betsy Leavitt took the train to Old Mexico, and on June 7, exactly 5 months before the church issued the Manifesto, they were married under the divine ordinance of Polygamy.

Twelve children were born to the union of John Horsecroft Wyatt and Betsy Leavitt Wyatt.

The federal officers made life difficult for the polygamists, forcing them to go into hiding, subjecting them to arrest and intimidation.

Certain men in Wellsville were "spotters" for the government. They were to find out where the polygamists were and report them to the federal officers. One spotter was Samuel Hall, however his wife was not in sympathy with his activities. Every time the federal men came, Mrs. Hall had to cook a big supper for them while they planned their strategy. Mrs. Hall would bundle up her little boy whose name was William, and slip him through the bedroom window and tell him to run and warn certain people to spread the news that the federal men were in town. William was the father of Loyal Hall of Logan, Utah.

The polygamist men would hide in hay stacks or go into the hills. John Wyatt had a trap door into the attic of his home and he spent some time hiding there. His wife was a virtual prisoner, remaining upstairs for days, or hiding in the raspberry patch. John sent Betsy to Canada to avoid persecutions. Her brothers built her a cabin near her father's home, but she wanted to be with her husband, and so she soon returned.

Bishop Maughan advised the men to accept a mission call and thus avoid persecution. John Wyatt did accept a call to labor in England, departing on September 2, 1891, 16 months after marrying Betsy.

The following is recorded in John's missionary journal: September 2, 1891. "I left Mendon at 1:20 p.m. after a painful parting with my family and friends. I stayed over night in Ogden with my old friend William M. (Billie) Wilson and enjoyed the night very much."

John arrived in New York on September 10th with 9 other missionaries. On September 12 they departed for England on the steamship "Nevada" of the Quin Line with 115 passengers on board. Although "the day was fine and the sea calm", by 7:00 p.m. John was very sea sick and continued to be so, unable to eat very much until they arrived in Liverpool on the 23rd of September 1891. On the 24th John was appointed to labor with Brother Frank Caselton in Norwich where a number of missionaries maintained a "bachelor hall" in a rented house.

September 27--"We held a meeting . . . that was the first time I bore my testimony in England, we had a time of rejoicing together."

On November 4th John traveled by train to Brighton and was met by his Uncle William Wyatt and Aunt Maria who made him welcome. While in Brighton he had opportunity to visit with his cousins and friends and attended the old parish Church and recorded: "It was a grand sight to me to have been and seen the place where I was born."

While at Brighton, John recorded: "November 11, 1891, Wednesday, this is a fearful bad day. The wind is dreadful, and we received news that two schooners were disabled and were driven to shore. They saved the lives of all on the first one. I went to see the last one; when I got there I saw some of the men on the beach, twenty I guess, take hold of a rope and go out into the sea and rescue a man . . . he was more dead than alive. The ship was sunk, all but the masts, and on one of them I saw two men standing and the waves was a dashing the masts all to pieces. The waves roared over the poor people every few minutes and no one could help them. At dark the masts all went down and the poor people that I saw on them went under."

On December 24th, 1891, John recorded in is diary the following items which revealed much about his character, and his feelings toward his wives: " A little explained, a little endured, a little past over and a quarrel is ended. Better to suffer without cause than to have cause for suffering. It costs more to resent injuries than to bear them. In a hundred ills of contention there is not one of love. To cast oil on the fire will not put it out. There would be no quarreling if we loved our neighbors as ourselves.

"Man's best help mate--Where he will unconsciously ruin himself, woman will save him. She is better in her nature. Today she is stronger in her character, she is purer in her love, warmer in her affections, that she ever was. If ever there was a time in the history of the world when woman could act as man's best help mate, as his safe advisor, as his loyal friend, it is today. The man who lacks faith in her or is unwilling to put his trust in her wisdom is to be pitied. She will be to him what his strongest or most intimate man friends can never be. She is the surest, and safest refuge for a man in times of trouble. From her heart swells forth that love and affection for him of which woman's nature is alone capable. A man will be a hero for the woman he esteems, but a woman will be a martyr for the man she loves."

The following is a letter published in the Logan Journal dated June 18, 1892; "On the British Isles--An interesting letter from a missionary abroad--He takes the Journal and keeps up with the times--"

"Editor Journal: As I am a reader of your paper, I notice that you have seldom any communication from this part of the world. Many of my friends in which I am now working. If they will take half as much interest in reading this account of my missionary travels as I do in reading the Journal, I will feel amply paid for writing it.

"I have been over many long miles, both by rail and by foot and have seen a great many things worthy of mention. When we go on missions we see more in a few months than we ever see in all our lives before. I left my Wellsville home September 2, 1891, and went to labor in the Norwich conference. In the following November, I was in Brighton, Sussex where I was born. There I met many of my relatives who were glad to see me, but they didn't heed my message for they were already saved. While there I saw many grand places. I visited the graves of my grandparents and witnessed a storm which wrecked many vessels at sea.

"One of them was a sailing ship laden with slate from Switzerland; it was dashed to pieces within gunshot of the shore. It sank from sight, all except the jibboom and the top of two masts which stuck out above the water. The poor sailors could be seen clinging to those but every wave that dashed over them weakened their grasp until finally they gave up and were carried off by the angry sea.

"One of the sailors was carried upon the beach by a huge wave but it took him back before we could reach him. One of my cousins then tied a rope around his body and giving the end to spectators, he plunged in after the poor seaman. He finally reached him and brought him into the land. In three days the sailor was all right again. He proved to be the first mate. All the other bodies were rescued but they were corpses. No one else came out of the wreck alive.

"In December I came to labor in Lowestoft. This is a beautiful city, built upon the shores of the German Ocean and surrounded with many magnificent scenes and grand old places. The revolving light house is there. It is a wonderful work of genius. It stands two hundred feet above the sea level and its bull's eye can be seen for thirty miles at sea.

"In March I went to Norwich. I visited the old Cathedral, a very ancient building. I ascended its tower, three hundred and twenty feet high. The way of getting to the top was not easy but I managed to squeeze through the passages and get up the ladder and out on top. The day was bright and clear and I had a splendid view of the city of one hundred and twenty four thousand inhabitants. While I was up there gazing around, I was reminded of the prairies where there was only one watering place or spring and all the animals from every direction came to it to drink.

"The streets here in English towns are not well laid out like they are at home. They are crooked and appear to have been surveyed by the wandering cows. There is a great mustard factory at this place where four hundred women and three hundred men are kept constantly employed. The fog gets so thick I have to cut my way through it with my walking stick.

"The weather is very uncertain. It seems to be changing every few minutes. Everything is in bloom now and all of the country looks like a beautiful flower garden. A friend of mine invited me to visit his gardens the other day. He has a fine place and it is called Temple Bar Garden. There are ten hot houses in his garden and he has orchards with almost every kind of fruit that grows.

"Pleasure seems to be the order of the day in this country, everywhere you go and every place you look it is pleasures sought after and the scriptures being fulfilled. Before closing I wish to say that of all the grand places I see, there is no place like my mountain home. Yours respectfully, John Wyatt, Jr."

John recorded on July 12, 1892, that he had learned by letter that "my wife Betsy; had been arrested by Deputy Corey as a witness against me . . ." After this Betsy went into hiding, taking her little daughter Betsy (Bessie) and a son Parley who was born after John left for England. She stayed at Joe Parker's in Mt. Sterling. John recorded on July 29th and again on August 9th of having received new of Parley's illness and finally on August 13th "the postman brought me two letters from home with the sad news of my little son Parley's death." He died on July 23rd.

Again on September 15th John recorded, "I found a letter from my family and one from my mother. They bore me the sad news of my poor little Betsy's death. She died August 25th with whooping cough. This is shocking to me. This is two of my darling children laid away since I came on this mission. They tell me my wife Julia has been arrested as a witness against me having two wives they say. I have a sad heart and I am not very well at all either."

On that same day John wrote the following letter full of love for his family and grief over the loss of his children.

"Julia my dear wife and Betsy my dear wife:

"Your letter bearing the awful sad news to me of my darling Betsy's death has reached me and O Dear! I believe my poor heart will break if the Lord does not help me (which I feel sure he will). Oh! Such a lot of trouble for me, and oh! My poor wives, how your poor hearts must ache. And poor dear Betsy, may God help her to bear up under this. The Lord has a purpose in all this I am sure, but it is hard to bear.

"I have felt in my sleep, of late, that something was wrong at home. You ask me to try to bear up. Oh! My dear, it--it is so hard.

"I have not been right well one day since I have been here. I have worked on thinking to be able to get over it all, and at times I have thought I should. I know that the Lord has helped me. Oh, but now I have to tell you that I have not had the privilege of feeling right well at all. But, I have thought that I could suffer anything myself to do the will of my Father in Heaven. But when I hear of the sad trouble at home, oh my poor broken hearted wives! If I could only comfort you for a minute. But, you must ask God to do that, and he will.

"Oh! I am so sorry to hear of your arrest. Don't you know that they cannot make you testify against me? Oh! The scoundrels! If I had that Marshall just a few minutes, I would make him sick sure. Oh say, have you got a receipt for the $135.00? I hope so, and I will make it tough for them. But don't tell this now my dear wives.

"Don't you think it would be the best thing for you to do, to give me away and then you could live in peace together unmolested? I would rather go to the pen than have you both or either of you in such trouble, my dears. If I was in the pen and knew that you were both free and happy, I should feel better than I do this way. What do you think? I am in earnest and would rather die in the pen than every give up one of you, or forsake one parcel of the blessings that God has given me to any men or government. So, I hope you will not doubt me for if it need be, I can sware it, and I believe God will help me to be faithful. I have no fears for you both.

"Remember, I am writing this to you both and if the Lord see's fit to take our sweet little ones to himself we shall try to live worthy of them; and then oh what a joy our meeting we shall have with them.

"Now I hope you will not pay them scamps any more cash. My dears, I am out of money nearly, please sent me a little.

"I have got my mother's loving letter, but I can't answer it now. Give my love to her and father and all. Let her read this, and tell her to write and not wait for me.

"Now my dear wives, please accept of the love of your broken hearted husband. I pray to God the Eternal Father to heal up your aching hearts and mine. Give my love to the children that are left to me. This is the prayer of my aching heart. John Wyatt"

On September 17 John recorded that he received a letter from President Wrackham advising him to write to President Brigham Young Jr. (Mission President) "and tell him that my health was so poorly, and that I had sickness at home, and I had now lost two of my children and ask him what to do." John replied to President Wrakham "that if he wished to he could, as I did not like to do so ..."

On September 22nd John recorded that "in the morning I received a letter from President B. Young Jr. giving me the privilege to go home, if I felt like it, on account of my losing two of my children, but as he gave me no encouragement or council to go, I could not feel to do so as yet ..."

Julia was arrested as indicated above and was required to appear in court in Ogden. "She went by wagon with her brother Al Levitt. On the way through the canyon they had an accident. One of the shafts fell down and it tipped them out on the ground. Julia had on a black dress which was all torn and she was sure shook up. When they took her into the court room the judge wanted to know what had happened. She stood and told them, "I had to come down here in court from Cache Valley and stand up here and tell you where my husband is and it's none of your business where he is. Look at this dress, and I've not got any pins to pin it together." Her bare leg was showing. "I pretty near got killed now who would get to blame for that? It would have been you." So he fined her $135.00 and sent her home." (Told by Annie Leishman)


(Taken from "I Remember" by Sidney Leavitt Wyatt)

Early in the year of 1852 a young man was returning home after a long day's work. He was walking along the beautiful beach in Hove, adjacent to the resort town of Brighton, England. In the dusk of the evening he approached a small group of people surrounding two men who were preaching the gospel of Christ. He joined the crowd and listened with fascination and wonder. At the close of the open air meeting he hurried home to his bride and young son. As soon as he met his wife, he said in effect: "Sarah, I have heard the true gospel preached for the first time in my life. Tomorrow the Mormon missionaries are holding another meeting in the same place. You and I must go together and hear them." After the next meeting they approached the Elders and requested baptism.

The young man was John Moses Wyatt age twenty three; his wife Sarah Caroline was also twenty three and their son, John Horsecroft, who was to become my father, was four years of age. My grandparents were baptized June 23, 1852. They immigrated to Utah late in the fall of 1853. When grandfather was preparing to leave England, his family , who did not join the church, took my father and hid him so that his parents could not take him to the land of the Mormons. Lucky for me he was found and joined his parents.

A second son, Charles was born in Green River, Wyoming on September 2, 1853.

Father's children always revered him. Although he was very stern his standards and ideals were high. In our home children were to be seen and not heard. At the dinner table the children did very little talking. Father presided from the head of the table, to his right sat his sons in descending order of their ages. Mother sat to his left with the daughters arranged as the sons were. Father was a large man, "strong as an ox" and next to the gospel he held good hard work to be the most important thing in life. Laziness was never tolerated. I received two whipping from father - I'm sure I deserved many more - one was when I came home late to do the chores one Sunday; the other was when I tore a shingle from the new granary, which I needed to make a dart.

One thing we children had ingrained into our very being was that America was a "land choice above all other lands", and we owed our being here to the gospel. The constitution and the laws of the land were next to the scriptures in importance. This love of country as grown with me through the years especially when I have been in foreign lands.


Copyright Shirl R. Weight 11/23/06 09:15:09 PM

Copyright 1996 - 2018 Shirl R Weight Monday, 12 November 2018 07:48:37 AM