Harris Family News

Direct Harris Line | Harris Relatives | Interesting Stories
Direct Kelley Line | Kelley Relatives | Interesting Stories

Alma Harris

Alma Harris

Alma Harris, son of Emer Harris and Parna Chappell, born 6 Jun 1832 in Brownhelm, Loraine, Ohio.  He married on 15 Mar 1854 Sarah EARL, born 2 Jul 1835 in Scarborough, York, Ontario, Canada; died 19 Jun 1927 in Logan, Cache, Utah; buried 21 Jun 1927 in Logan, Cache, Utah, daughter of William Henry EARL and Sarah Ferdon SYPHERS. Alma and Sarah had 10 children. Alma died 10 Aug 1900 in Logan, Cache, Utah; buried 13 Aug 1900 in Logan, Cache, Utah.

The lives of Alma Harris and Sarah Earl ran parallel for many years before they courted and married in Ogden, Weber Co., Utah on March 15, 1854.   In the spring of 1831 Emer Harris and Parna Chappel had moved their family to Kirtland, Ohio to unite with the saints.  In the Fall they moved to Brownhelm, Ohio where Alma was born June 6,
1832 while his father was serving a mission.

     Sarah Earl was born in Scarborough, York, Upper Canada (a few miles east of Toronto) July 2, 1835 to William Earl and Sarah Syphers.

     The Harris family lived briefly in Florence, where Charles was born, and then moved to the “Foy farm about three miles southeast of Kirtland on the Chardon Road land”. (MHH Jour) Martin Harris had a farm on this same road, and Uncle Preserved lived in Mentor, Ohio.

     During the five years Emer and his family had lived in Kirtland, missionaries had converted many people to the church.  Kirtland now counted two thousand members.  Emer had worked on the temple as a carpenter.  This beautiful House of the Lord, built by the sacrifice of the members, including the sisters’ china crushed in its stucco finish, sparkled like the hopes of the saints.  Revelation was being received by the Prophet on many truths.  The First Presidency, the Twelve and the Seventies were functioning.  Alma’s days thus far had been those of any other little child of the time.  The trials of the saints had not really begun when Alma was four.

     In April, 1836, Heber C. Kimball gave a blessing to Parley P. Pratt prior to his leaving on a mission.  He was told of a people in the Toronto area who were ready to receive the gospel.  Elder Pratt went there and met John Taylor, a former Methodist preacher, and baptized him and others in a group that had been studying the Bible together. We do not know whether William Earl and his family were part of this group, but John Taylor was a close friend of the family and a little later he baptized William and Sarah, his wife. 

     In the summer of 1836 Sarah’s family arrived in Kirtland.  Her brother, Jacob, tells of attending school in one of the rooms of the temple.  The good years of the church in Kirtland were about over when the Earl’s moved there.  The financial problems were increasing for the members had little money to carry out their necessary business and the number of saints continued to increase. Many of them came with no means to sustain themselves.  The Kirtland Bank program, which was supposed to help this problem, was a failure.  This was largely because of economic conditions in the country as a whole when land speculation was followed by a serious depression.  Many blamed the Prophet for their troubles and lost their testimonies in the process.  This and other problems caused some to apostatize and begin persecuting those who still followed the Prophet Joseph. 

    The saints in upper Missouri had been living in peace with their neighbor’s and so it was determined to move the Kirtland saints to join them.  Thus begins the first adventure Alma would be old enough to remember.  Most of the saints, including the Earl family, left in the early summer of 1838, but Emer went first to Pennsylvania to get payment for the farm he had left there.  Obtaining the teams and wagons needed, the family started for Missouri on the fifth of September and arrived at “Uncle Ezekiel’s” on October twelfth.  The trip covered a distance of 872 miles.  Their long trek had not brought them to a “destination”, for when they arrived, conditions in Missouri had worsened during the previous few months to such an extent that the mobs (technically referred to as militia) were committing many atrocities and Gov. Boggs was about to issue the extermination order.

     Threats had been made that every Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants found would be burned and many had been.  Guns were to be surrendered.  Many of the saints had already complied with this demand, but it had done little good towards calming the Missouri mobs. Alma  often told a story about his experience with the militia—mob.  Only two weeks after arriving, his family, was forced to 1eave the state and seek a new home.  Many versions of this experience have appeared, with conflicting detail as to where and how it happened.  The time period is here, for when the saints left Nauvoo Alma was 4, and when they came west he was 18.  Emer, upon hearing of the burning of scriptures determined they were not going to burn his Book of Mormon.  Taking a wooden chest he cut one end off to make the books fit tightly.  One version says he invited others to place their books there also, and this may be so as he was at his sister Haoni’s home in Missouri.  A number of books were placed is the chest and a false bottom formed by adding a lining of Fullers clothe.  The chest was filled with clothing.  Since no version quotes Emer as they are stopped on the trail by the militia, the one that tells of Emer walking in the woods and fields with his gun keeping watch over the family from there and maintaining possession of the weapon to obtain food by hunting is probably accurate.  When the wagons of the family are stopped, Mother Parna was asked if she was a Mormon.   She answered, “Yes, and I thank God for it!”   The leader said, “We will have to search the wagon.”  She answered “Go ahead, you have driven us around so much we have nothing but rags.”  The men searched the wagon and, as they did so, the leader picked up Alma, who had been standing in the snow in his bare feet, and placed him on his horse while the search continued, saying there was no need for him to stand in the snow.  Finding nothing, even after opening the wooden chest and searching it, the family was released by the leader to continue their journey.  The men never noticed that in shortening the chest so the books would fit tightly, the keyhole became off—centered.   Parna was complimented on her bravery and they continued on their journey.  It was over one hundred miles in snow, rain and mud to Quincy, Illinois.  The chest was held by members of the family for many years and is now in possession of the church in Salt Lake.

     Alma was six and a half when the family reached Quincy.  He had already lived on six farms, traveled over 870 miles to Missouri, nearly 150 back to Quincy and would stay there only a short while before moving to Nauvoo.  Was all this a great adventure for young Alma, or did he long to stay put?  Was he busy with little boy doings, or did he notice the concerns of his parents as persecutions increased?  It was probably a little of all of these.  Still too young to understand fully the dedication his parents felt for the truth they had found in the restored gospel, yet seeing their willingness to follow the Prophet it must have seemed right even to one so young.  He had older half-brothers to help watch over him and built in buddies in his brothers Joseph and Charles.  Harriet and Fanny were there too, so he didn’t lack for company no matter how many times they moved.    Music must have been part of the family life also since information from Utah histories later shows most of the Harris boys playing in bands and orchestras.

     Sarah Earl’s father William chose to take his family to Missouri as a member of “Kirtland Camp”.  He was one of the signers of the constitution of this group (DHC Vol. 3 p.93) and the record stated his family consisted of eleven members.  The camp was divided into groups and made a much slower trip to Missouri than Emer because they were pledged to assist one another till they reached their destination and so they stopped several times along the way to earn enough to continue.  They left Kirtland in early July and arrived in Far West October 2, 1838.  This was a difficult journey and many would not have been able to go without the aid of the Camp.  William Earl seemed generally to have sufficient and to spare, and according to his daughter Sarah, who spoke of it In her later years, he did not believe in going without making adequate preparation.   He was a cooper and could generally find work so he was a help to other members in their journey.

     When they arrived and found they could not plan to stay, William was one chosen as a caretaker.  They remained in Far West for three months after the Extermination order.  With several others, he was named to a committee permitted to pass in and through the County during the winter.  An effort was being made to gather the member’s livestock and goods and aid them in the move and most of the members of the church were under strict regulations and orders from the military authorities of the state.  The permit was signed by the Brig. General. (Earl Reunion Rep. 1941) Three months after the Extermination order a mutual assistance pact was formed to assist members to move to Quincy.

     By the Fall of 1840 both Alma’s and Sarah’s families were living in Nauvoo.  Alma was eight and Sarah five.  The Harris family was In the Nauvoo Second Ward when the town was divided into four wards on March 1, 1841.  Later the William Earl family was in the Fifth Ward, but some records are incomplete and they were not found in the early lists.

     The state of Illinois was deeply in debt and needed new settlers so the Saints were somewhat welcome. One woman said they were such a sorry looking group and the original citizens of the area felt so much pity for them because of what they had been through that they gave them what aid, they could.

     Young Alma grew from a child to a near man during the events in Nauvoo and was about fifteen when they left for Kanesvillle.  The city of Nauvoo grew from a small swampy area to a city of over 1200 homes and buildings in just two years.  Another temple was started and the number of wards grew each year.  The Prophet Joseph was teaching new truths to the saints and in many ways it was an exciting time.  The Nauvoo Legion, with Joseph Smith at the head, was a state chartered militia and the city, too, had been granted a charter.  Some wanted the favor of the “Mormons” because they were a growing force in the state due to their number.  Some were frightened of this same power and began to work against them.  The members did what they could to keep peace and continued building the city.  Schools were established and even a University.  Alma and Sarah must have attended school there as both were literate and this would be the longest time they spent in one place until after they were married.

     It was in Nauvoo that they first met and it may have been at school.  Their ages were not right for romance, however, since they were still quite young when Nauvoo was left behind.  Their life during these years surely was like many others of the frontier era, but wherever the saints went they brought a concern for good living conditions and opportunities for education, music and whatever else could be done to improve their life.  This was one of the problems in some areas as the first settlers liked their places the way they were and resented the member’s feelings about horse racing or drinking or the way they spent their Sundays.

     Alma and Sarah had the opportunity to hear the Prophet Joseph and others speak on the truths of the gospel. Sarah’s history records watching the Prophet play ball, lead the Legion In Its drills and speak to the saints.  She was ill at the time of the martyrdom and was told by her mother of the events of the funeral. Alma’s sister “Fanny” died in December of 1841.  Nauvoo was not a very healthful place during those first years due to the swampy conditions that had prevailed for so long.  However, we do not know what she died of. 

     Like many others, Emer worked on the temple whenever he could.  The Prophet felt urgency for it to be completed, but the saints were struggling with so many things, having been wiped out in their moves, that progress was slow.  It was not finished when Joseph and Hyrum were killed.  During the controversy over who should lead the church, some wanted it held in trust for the son of Joseph.  Emer and his family had known the Smith family for many years as neighbors in Palmyra, but the Spirit guided them in knowing that the keys were with the Twelve and they stayed with the church.  William Earl and his family too, stood firm. 

     Emer continued his work on the temple.  The baptismal font had been completed in late 1841 and many baptisms for the dead had been done.  Sarah’s parents were baptized for some of their family.  When the temple was completed many saints had an opportunity to receive their endowments.  Emer and Parna received their endowments January 30, 1846 and William and Sarah S. on the same day, although not in the same company.  The ordinances were only given for two months and the temple had been guarded continually since the death of the Prophet Joseph.  Many sought to destroy it.  Nauvoo conditions were such that the members knew that it was time to leave.  Hundreds thronged to the temple day and night until Brigham Young said it was no longer safe to continue and they must prepare to leave.

     The exodus began again. Many had a hard time selling their property to gather what they needed in the way of wagons, teams and supplies to move on.  The citizens in the area saw little need to pay them for what they would soon have to abandon.  Whether the Earls and Harrises “sold out” or “pulled out” we don’t know.  The Earl family stopped along the way for the various members to work as they made their way to Council Bluffs.  Sarah indicated that they traveled to the Salt Lake Valley in relative ease because of careful preparation.  They were well outfitted and had food left to carry them into their first season in the valley.  The Earls traveled in the Tenth Company under David Evans and arrived 10 the Salt Lake area September 15, 1850. (W. Woodruff Jour. #298,141)  Two of Sarah’s brothers went with the Mormon Battalion to California and then to Utah.

Alma’s family came to Utah in sections.  He came west with his half—brother, Martin Henderson Harris, and his mother Parna.  Traveling in the Sixth Company which began with 42 wagons, they were soon divided into two groups and, assigned to Captain Herman Persons “ten” in Joseph Young’s group.  They arrived September 23rd 1850 ahead of their original group which arrived October first.  Little was recorded by Martin H. in his journal about the crossing.  He recorded that some took ill with cholera and a few died.  They encountered rain and mud to slow their progress.  Alma was eighteen.  We may picture him driving the wagons and doing a man’s work on the trail and in the camp for he is no longer a boy being moved, from place to place.  He has made his choice and cast his lot with the saints.  As they neared Wyoming, Martin wrote: “For the last few days been in sight of hundreds of buffalo at a time.  Hunters killed some.”   After a few days spent in Salt Lake they traveled to Ogden going first to Brown’s Fort on September 27 and on to Ogden Fort on September 30. Preparations were started for the oncoming winter by cutting several ton of hay and the winter wood.  They built a log house and then put their cattle into “the herd”.

The 1850 census, taken later that fall records:
                                                             Martin H. Harris               31           Farmer
                                                             Parna                                 59
(came west with Ezekiel K.)            Joseph                             20
                                                             Alma                                  18
Father Emer and the others came in 1852.  He and Dennison settled In the Provo area.

     Three and a half years after arriving in Ogden, Alma and Sarah were married.  They made their home In Ogden until 1861.  William Emer and Alma Albirto were born to them there, and then Lafayette was born May 2, 1858 in Farmington, followed by Eleonor and Jesse in Ogden.  Lafayette was born during the move “south” to empty the cities before Johnson’s army could reach them.  The army had been camped In Echo canyon and some rather drastic measures were planned since no one seemed to know what their purpose was. The settlements were to be burned rather than occupied and certain men were to station themselves on the sides of the passes to roll rocks down in order to halt them if necessary.  Alma was assigned to this duty.  Sarah’s brother Jacob Tompkins Earl lived in Farmington.  She may have been there when her child was born.  Only two or three months were spent away from their homes by the settlers as the army passed through the valley and set up camp in the western valley, away from any settlement of saints.

     Alma spent eleven years in Ogden and during this time he aided in building the forts and stockades that protected the settlers from attack.  Some Indians in the area were still quite hostile.   It was also said he aided in building homes. Alma and Sarah had at least four children while living in Ogden.  While living there, Alma was ordained a Seventy on February 17, 1859.  A search of early Ogden ward records contains no word of the family, but many of these were not preserved.  Joseph Harris lived where downtown Ogden’s main business district is located now, between 23rd and 24th on the East side of the street.   Martin H. settled north of Ogden near what was called Four Mile Creek and the town of Harrisville, Utah was named for him in honor of the many contributions he made to build the area.  He was responsible for opening the first school in his own home.

     Sarah Earl’s parents, who first settled in Ogden, had moved to Logan and in 1861 Alma and Sarah joined them according to an interview of Sarah conducted by Joel Ricks.   Elleonor (according to census spelling which is often wrong) was eight months old when the 1860 census was taken and died in Ogden at the age of seventeen months.

     Upon arriving in Logan the family spent the first winter with the William Earl’s.   Alma and Sarah’s first home in Logan was located on the corner of first west and first north. While living there Delmon, Letty, Charles and Frank were born and Delmon died.  Zelley was born in Benson and died at 10 months.  Cache Valley, and Logan in particular, had not been settled long when Alma moved there. The valley had been opened in 1859 and those who settled were advised by the authorities to secure farming claims, but to obtain a home site in the settled areas for protection.  “Uncle Birt”, Alma’s son, wrote an article for the Improvement Era several years before his death which describes his young pioneer days. “We endured many hardships in Utah, living in one—room log houses with
dirt roofs, with no furniture, no stoves.  Cooking was done over a fire place.   We slept on straw beds using Indian robes for bedding.  We went bareheaded and barefooted and were indoors from five to six months during the winter at which time we could do no work except feed the hogs and cattle and chop wood for the fireplace.  We kept a few sheep and made our own clothes. I spun yarn on an old-fashioned spinning wheel to make cloth for our family.  A weaver could weave about two or three yards a day on an old-fashioned loom.  Shoes were put together with wooden pegs.  We raised sugar cane and ran it through wood rollers, catching the juice and boiling it down to make molasses.  We cut wheat with a cradle, threshed it with a club, and blew the chaff out by the wind, then ground the wheat in a coffee mill, later we had a tannery, carding mill, flour mill, blacksmith shop, and shoemaker. On Christmas we would have doughnuts, and molasses candy in our stockings and our toys consisted of a clumsy sled and a bow and arrow.  Our only amusement was an occasional dance, where we took wheat for a ticket. If you had the toothache the only remedy was to pull it out….”   “When Brigham Young came to Logan to hold a conference we had no building large enough so we built a bowery of willows and sat on benches with no backs, the children sitting on the ground.” (Alma Albirto Harris,  A Glimpse of Pioneer Life)

     For nearly ten years Alma and Sarah had made their home in Logan, then Brigham Young came to a conference there and suggested that the area later known as Benson Ward should be settled.   Alma, Israel Clark, William Ricks, David Reese and Joseph Thatcher of Logan and George Thomas and Charles Reese of Hyde Park spent the winter preparing houses for their families and moved in the spring of 1871.  Two years later four other families joined them. The area did not grow very much at first because the only water available was from the sloughs.  In 1883 the Logan Third ward Canal was completed to Benson. (History of a Valley, Joel Ricks)


Cache Valley Utah

Alma Bishop of the Benson Ward, Cache Valley Stake, during 1877. Settled along with 19 other families along banks of the Bear River, scattered over a large district of country. Deseret news 14 Nov 1877.

Cache Valley is a broad arid agricultural valley in northern Utah and southern Idaho largely drained and irrigated by the Bear River. Alma settled along the banks of the Bear River Northwest of Logan. See: Google Maps





     For a few years this area attended church with those of Hyde Park.  When the actual Benson Ward was established on June l, 1877, Alma was called to be the first Bishop.  The ward was small, only nineteen families settled along the Bear River.  Five months after its organization Alma gave a report at the Second Quarterly Conference of the Cache Valley Stake indicating that they were meeting in the hones of the saints for services. Many historical and interesting events occurred during Alma’s service as bishop in Benson Ward.  The Logan, Salt Lake and St. George temples were under construction, the Logan Temple being dedicated in 1884.   Alma and Sarah had traveled to Salt Lake to be endowed and sealed In the Endowment House November 24, 1874 rather that wait for the temple to be completed.  Polygamy was causing many problems and many were being brought to trial by civil authorities.  Special funds were asked for to help them defend their cases.  Alma received a letter from the church asking all church leaders to assist in obtaining these funds.  The temple project required donations of goods, labor, and money for several years. Continued attention to tithing was urged as the church had no other cash flow. Fund-raising for Alma must have been somewhat of a challenge.

     Indian troubles were lessening under Brigham young’s direction to feed them and befriend them.   Sarah and Alma raised an Indian girl called Namanasawats. They purchased her from the tribe because she had no one to care for her.  She was called Ann and lived with then until her death at about nineteen from T.B.  Frank spoke of her as though she lived with the family when he was young, but the dates Sarah gave when she had the temple work done for her indicate she died in 1865, prior to Frank’s birth. Her baptism and endowment were done on September 9, 1890 and September 10, 1890 with Sarah listing herself as “stepmother”.   She has not been sealed to the family as we have no proof of legal steps being taken to adopt her.  Apostle Ezra T. Benson got two Indian children at the same time.  The girl “Nellie” did her own temple work and died at age 40.  The boy ran away when Elder Benson died, saying he was not going to be bossed around by a lot of women!   Neither of these seems to have been sealed so far as the most recent Benson family history shows.

     A few papers from Alma’s time as bishop, as well as deeds, notes and business records were preserved by Charles M. Harris and are now owned by Alma Frank Harris, son of “young Frank”, who kindly made them available to enliven this history.  A small leather covered notebook was carried for several years, the cover being worn completely out.  Ranch records, cures for man and animal, inventive doodling, notes of this and that found their way into it.  The washing machine patent papers and related letters were preserved as well as the probate record of Alma’s estate. Several interesting letters in regard to the Logan temple and political problems of the time give us insight into their lives. The 1880’s were a period of intense difficulty for the saints both from the “gentiles living in the area and those sent in to enforce federal laws.  Those who were living in polygamy were denied the right to vote or hold office. From the tone of the series of letters concerning President Merrill of the temple one can see how difficult things were in Utah nearly forty years after the saints came west to be free of persecution.

     Two puzzles present themselves concerning Alma’s church service at this point n his life.  Records of mission calls show him called in 1874 to the Northern States, but we have no record of his going.  He was made bishop in 1877 and a listing of the Benson Ward in church records reads “…outgrowth of Hyde Park, first settled in 1871 organized as a ward 14 June 1877 with Alma Harris, Bishop.  Succeeded in 1890 by Henry Wm. Ballard.”   It is said Alma served for nearly twenty years.  Mission records again list him as being called to in Northern States in the spring of 1890 and returning in the Fall of 1893.  However, the collection of his papers contains a medical release in Nov. of 1890.  In this time period, Bishops were sometimes called on missions and others acted in their place until they returned.  Perhaps they counted the time before Benson became an actual ward and he was the overseer, Speculation proves nothing, but it is hoped more research will.   Until then we are left with some conflicting information.

     Alma was a musician and was sought after to play for dancing and other entertainments.  Several of his children had this talent also and played for the special events in the valley such as the graduations at the college and the Programs at the Thatcher Opera House.   When Cache Valley was made a military district Alma had been made the leader of the band.  Charles and Frank were known for their violin and cello talents, but according to Charles they also played in the fireman’s  band with Frank playing a trombone and Charles the coronet.

     It is hard to put a label on Alma.  In the 1860 census of Weber County, he listed himself as a “laborer’, but in later years he is a farmer, dairyman, inventor, musician and businessman.  He manufactured and sold some of his inventions, in particular the washer and table.   At the time of his death at age 68, he was about to become an active partner in the Harris Music Company.  He had gone to Rexburg to talk to Frank about it and see the family there.  In his letter home he spoke of “Ross” and the children.  She was the widow of his son Lafayette.  He also
mentioned having noticed the heat while there and seemed not to have felt too well.  The letter was written August 4, 1900.  He returned home and died unexpectedly August tenth.   Alma and Sarah had moved to Logan a few years previously and were living in a lovely home at 63 West 3rd South.  They shared a love of flowers and Alma had planted many around the home. (The home was divided into apartments at one time and had become somewhat run-down, but it has been restored by its present owners and is very attractive.)  Sarah was left the home lot of 80 square rods, household furniture, 77 acres of land and one milk cow according to the probate of the estate. Value was placed at $1427.50.

     When Alma was born June 6, 1832 his parents were both members of the church and his father Emer was serving a mission.  In speaking at Alma funeral Apostle Moses Thatcher said of him he “....was born an heir to God’s Holy Priesthood, the robes of which he never dishonored”.  A few years after Alma’s death Frank and his wife Rose moved just west of Sarah and Jesse and his wife Sarah had a home on the east.  Their children were raised where “Grammy” could watch their play and enjoy their company.


Sarah Earl was born July 2, 1835 to William and Sarah Syphers Earl in Toronto Canada. Her grandfather, Henry Earl, was among a group of Loyalists who had left America in 1783 and founded an area called New Brunswick in Canada. Sarah’s parents had moved in 1825 from St. John, New Brunswick to Toronto in Upper Canada. Around 1836 the family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Kirtland, Ohio.

In the spring of 1838, Sarah with her family joined the Kirtland Camp, a company of 515 souls who were leaving Kirtland because of persecution. Under the leadership of the First Council of the Seventy, the company of 105 families made the journey of 900 miles.  It was a perilous trip, and poverty was the lot of the group. They occasionally stopped along the route to work so that they might gather more supplies and continue onward. (The Journal of this company is in “History of the Church, Period I. vol. ii, chs. IX & X)

Upon arriving among the saints in upper Missouri, they settled at “Adam-on-di-Ahman, on October 4, 1833.

They were given a most cordial welcome at Far West before moving to “Di-Ahman,” and the description of that reception by the Prophet exhibits the spirit in which the gathering of the people was being carried out: “The Kirtland camp arrived in Far West from Kirtland. I went in company with Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Isaac Morley and George W. Robinson, and met them some miles out, and escorted them into the city, where they encamped on the public square directly south, and close by the excavation for the Lord’s house. Here friends greeted friends in the name of the Lord. Isaac Morley, patriarch at Far West, furnished a beef for the camp. President Rigdon provided a supper for the sick and the brethren provided for them like men of God, for they were hungry, having eaten but little for several days, and having traveled eleven miles this day; eight hundred and sixty miles from Kirtland, the way the camp traveled.”

Of the camp’s arrival at “Di-Ahman” the Prophet in his journal said: “This is a day long to be remembered by that part of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, called ‘The Camp’, or “Kirtland Camp No. 1’, for they arrived at their destination and began to pitch their tents about sunset, when one of the brethren living in the place proclaimed with a loud voice: ‘Brethren, your long and tedious journey is now ended; you are now on the public square of Adam-on-di-Ahman. This is the place where Adam blessed his posterity, when they rose up and called him Michael, the Prince, the Archangel, and he being full of the Holy Ghost predicted what should befall his posterity to the latest generation.’

Within a month the whole county was in turmoil. Persecution by the “old settlers” and mobsters and militias, under state order, created a wave of violence and lawlessness against the Mormons. On October 27 Governor Boggs issued an order to the state militia that the Mormons must be exterminated or be driven from the state. On the 31st of the same month, Joseph Smith and many other church leaders were arrested and eventually left as prisoners in Liberty Jail.

On November 2 a Missouri brigade was dispatched to “Di-Ahman” with instruction to disarm the Mormon and affect its surrender. Five hundred men arrived, formed a hollow square and ordered, “Within one hour every man is to be within the square with all his arms and ammunition”. Sarah’s brother Jacob, who was 15 at this time, wrote about the incident: “We were all obliged to give up our arms. I would not have given my gun, but would have hidden it, but for Mother’s advice to give it up”

The Earl family, along with the others, was eventually forced out of their settlement. Brig. Gen. R. Wilson, who was placed in charge of “keeping order’, issued a permit which read: “I permit the following persons, as a committee on the part of the Mormons, to pass and repass in and through the County of Daviess during the winter, to wit: William Huntington,...William Earl,...Henry Humphrey - upon all lawful business.”

Brigham Young and other leaders began to organize ways and means of effecting the Mormon’s removal from Missouri. Ways had to be provided for moving the poor and destitute. On January 29, 1839, William Earl was one of many who signed a mutual assistance pact to assist in removing the members, including his own, from Far West and vicinity to Quincy, Illinois. Land and many personal possessions had to he sold.

From Quincy, the Earl family went to Springfield where they resided for a time. Upon leaving Springfield, the family was among the first to arrive in Commerce, an area bought by the Church for gathering the Saints together. (Commerce was changed to Nauvoo on April 1, 1340.)

Sarah lived in Nauvoo and was a witness to its tremendous growth and development under the inspired leadership of Joseph Smith. She described him as a remarkably handsome man who was strong and agile. When he was dressed in full uniform and mounted on his black horse commanding the Nauvoo Legion, Sarah stated ‘he was of a most noble and princely bearing”. He had a magnetic personality and the Saints loved him.

Sarah was baptized in 1843 in Nauvoo. She remembered a meeting once held in a little grove of trees near the temple where the Prophet spoke. He said the Saints would find a home in the far West. He said, “This people will be gathered together in a place of refuge and safety in the Rocky Mountains -- even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings”.

At the time of the Prophet’s death, little Sarah Earl was ill, so her impression of that tragic period is second hand. Her mother came home from the funeral service and told her that the dead Prophet and Patriarch looked as innocent and peaceful as a child asleep.

The Earl family was among the first to leave Nauvoo. They did not go immediately to Winter Quarters, but stopped at various places along the way to work. When they reached Winter Quarters, the sons of the family built a house of sod. Sarah’s father, an excellent cooper, went down into Missouri to pursue his trade and earn enough money to bring his family on the western pilgrimage. While he was gone, the call came for the battalion to march to Mexico. Brigham Young requested that two of the Earl boys, Jacob and Jesse, go. Sarah’s mother was reluctant about allowing Jesse to leave her because he was only sixteen years old and was a sickly, delicate boy. Brigham Young said, “Sister Earl, I promise you that if you will let your boy Jesse go with the battalion, he will be restored to you safely, a strong, robust man” This promise was entirely fulfilled. The terrible hardships and struggles which he went through caused this weak lad to develop into an unusually vigorous man.

After the boys left with the battalion, the Earl family joined their father in Missouri where they all found employment.  The prospered here so well that when they departed with a company westward from Council bluffs, Iowa in June 1850, they were well equipped. They had several wagons, a number of horses, four ox teams, and four milk cows. Sarah’s father made a little churn into which they put cream from the night’s milk and the strippings from the morning’s milking. The churn was set in one of the wagons and the jolting movement as they traveled, churned the cream into butter. In the evening Sarah’s mother put a nice, fresh pat of butter before the Family for their supper. The entire Company would stop on Saturdays to bake bread, dry buffalo meat, and wash. Sundays they would rest and hold religious services. After arriving in the Salt lake Valley, Utah September 11, 1850, they had enough flour, hams and bacon to last them for over a year. 

With the Earl family, traveled a California bound emigrant who as a wonderful violinist. Sarah would never forget the sweet strains he drew form his violin in the wilderness. She would always remember the thunder and roar of the buffalo hoofs as they galloped in mad stamped over the hills with the Indians in pursuit.  This young girl, so susceptible to the harmonies and dissonances of wilderness sound, grew to be the mother of musicians and music loving people.

The Earl family, members of an ox train company under the charge of Captain David Evans, arrived safely in the Salt Lake Valley in September 1850. (David Evans is Ann Kelley Harris’ great, great, great grandfather)

The Earl family located on the old Goodyear Claim (Ogden), and in 1851, when Weber Stake was organized, Sarah’s father became a member of the High Council.

In 1843, Sarah married Alma Harris, who had arrived in Utah in a company before her. Sarah and Alma settled in Ogden where five of their children were born; William Emer – 1854, Alma Alberto – 1856, Lafayette – 1857, Eleanor – 1859 and Jesse – 1861. They then moved to Logan, being some of the first settlers in the area. Here four more children were born: Lettie – 1865, Charles Martin – 1866, Frank – 1868 and Zelly – 1873.

Alma was called to be the first bishop of Benson Ward (just outside of Logan and he remained in this position for twenty years.

Sarah was a radiant woman. She was sweet and gracious, and intensely interested in life, showing enthusiasm over common place chores such as baking bread. Here love for music was a beautiful part of here life. She had a deep and abiding affection for Alma, a choice love that lasted through the years.

Alma passed away on August 10, 1900 and Sarah joined him twenty-years later on June 19, 1927.

Children of Alma HARRIS and Sarah EARL were as follows:

William Emer HARRIS, born 3 Dec 1854 in Ogden, Weber, Utah; died 27 Oct 1904 in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho; buried 30 Oct 1904 in Hyde Park, Cache, Utah.  He married on 4 Nov 1877 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Katherine Sarah PERKES, born 12 May 1861 in Belleville, St. Clair, Illinois; died 7 Sep 1957 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah; buried 10 Sep 1957 in Hyde Park, Cache, Utah, daughter of James PERKES and Mary Ann GIBSON.

Alma Albirto HARRIS, born 25 Feb 1856 in Ogden, Weber, Utah; died 29 May 1939 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; buried 1 Jun 1939 in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California.  He married on 16 Jan 1890 in Logan, Cache, Utah Rosella Juliet CARLSTON, born 17 Jan 1866/68 in Fairview, Sanpete, Utah; died 4 Mar 1951 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; buried 8 Mar 1951 in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, daughter of Hans Thoresen CARLSTON (Carlsen) and Grethe Magdalene HAARBYE.

Lafayette HARRIS, born 2 May 1857 in Farmington, Davis, Utah; died 17 Mar 1897 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah; buried 20 Mar 1897 in Logan, Cache, Utah.  He married on 24 Dec 1879 in Logan, Cache, Utah Roselinda Louisa CLARK, born 15 Mar 1863 in Logan, Cache, Utah; died 1 May 1938 in Logan, Cache, Utah; buried 4 May 1938 in Logan, Cache, Utah, daughter of Israel Justice CLARK and Louisa EYNON.

EleanorHARRIS, born 3 Nov 1859 in Ogden, Weber, Utah; died 1 Apr 1861.

Jesse HARRIS, born 16 Jan 1861 in Ogden, Weber, Utah; died 8 May 1926 in Logan, Cache, Utah; buried 12 May 1926 in Logan, Cache, Utah.  He married on 13 Jul 1904 in Logan, Cache, Utah Sarah Elizabeth HOLLIDAY, born 6 Jun 1883 in Pleasant Valley, Emery, Utah; died 9 Dec 1923 in Logan, Cache, Utah; buried 12 Dec 1923 in Logan, Cache, Utah, daughter of George HOLLIDAY and Isabella Grace WALLACE.

Delmon HARRIS, born 1 Jun 1863 in Logan, Cache, Utah; died 28 Mar 1865.

Letty HARRIS, born 2 Nov 1865 in Logan, Cache, Utah; died 30 Jul 1937.

Charles Martin HARRIS, born 29 Nov 1866 in Logan, Cache, Utah; died 7 Oct 1963.  He married on 8 Nov 1894 in Logan, Cache, Utah Olive Adeline DURFEE, born 24 Dec 1870 in Wellsville, Cache, Utah; died Oct 1941, daughter of Nephi DURFEE and Amanda THOMAS.

Frank HARRIS, born 2 Aug 1868 in Logan, Cache, Utah; died 7 Feb 1961 in Logan, Cache, Utah; buried 10 Feb 1961 in Logan, Cache, Utah.  He married (1) on 2 Apr 1890 Nellie JONES; (2) on 22 Jun 1904 in Logan, Cache, Utah Rose Jane HUGHES, born 16 Dec 1879 in Mendon, Cache, Utah; died 3 Dec 1961 in Logan, Cache, Utah; buried 7 Dec 1961 in Logan, Cache, Utah, daughter of Henry HUGHES and Rebecca BASSETT.

Zelley HARRIS, born 16 Nov 1873 in Benson, Cache, Utah; died 24 Sep 1874.

For more information on Alma and the Harris Family see: http://www.belnapfamily.org/nathanharrisfamily/histories.htm




©2005 Randy Harris