The Elledge family came from the southern states, and the name is quite uncommon. In colonial times some Elledges moved from Maryland down into Virginia and North Carolina, later spreading westward into Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. They were connected with the family of Daniel Boone: Charity Boone (daughter of Daniel Boone's older brother) was married to Francis Elledge (b. 1750 in Yadkin District, North Carolina) and they went into Kentucky with the Boones. Their children, including Boone Elledge, were born at Boone Station, Kentucky; cousins to our branch of the family.
The earliest-born member of the Elledge family to join the LDS church was Dillingham Horton Elledge (b. 1822 in Tennessee; d. 1895 in Manassa, Colorado). Dillingham's father was James Elledge (1790-1865), who came from Wilkes Co., NC. He settled in Tennessee and later Georgia, dying at Salem Church, Catoosa County, Georgia. Jacob Elledge (b. 1764) was the father of James. Dillingham's mother was Nancy Farmer (1798-1872), from Tennessee.
Dillingham's wife was Elizabeth Nations, and her parents were Virginia Jane Connally (1810-1863) from Georgia, and Israel Nations (1799-1874) from South Carolina. (Israel Nations was the son of John Nations, who was the son of John Nations, who was the son of Christopher Nation of North Carolina -- a patriot or "regulator," who was one of the leaders of the revolt against the colonial government of North Carolina before the Revolutionary War. Christopher Nation was married to Elizabeth Swaim (of Dutch ancestry). Christopher's parents were John Nation and Bethiah Robins; John Nation came from England to New Jersey as an indentured servant boy, later moving to North Carolina after he gained his freedom. (Indenturing oneself as a servant, usually for a period of seven years, was quite a common occurrence in colonial times for young Englishmen who wished to come to America but couldn't afford it on their own. John Nation has been erroneously called a "slave boy" by some. Indentured servants were treated a little better than slaves, and they gained their freedom after seven years, unlike slaves, who were usually in slavery for life).
Dillingham and Elizabeth Nations Elledge had been converted to the LDS Church in the late 1870's in northern Georgia, and with their family of 10 children they moved to the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, together with other converts from the Southern States Mission, who came there by train in organized "companies," under the direction of LDS Church leaders. No stories or biographies have been passed down to us from this family, and it would be interesting to know more of the circumstances surrounding their conversion and coming to Colorado. Most of the members of the first group of converts who came in 1878 were from Rome, Georgia. Nearly the entire town of Rome was converted to the LDS Church. When President John Morgan went there, the townspeople already had Books of Mormon, which they had extensively read and marked. They told him there was a man who had come through town awhile before, who had distributed the books, and he told them there would be a man coming after him who would explain more about these new scriptures. When President Morgan arrived, the townspeople were ready and ripe for conversion, and they believed that an angel or one of the "Three Nephites" had given the books to them.
There was extreme persecution against the "Mormons" in the Southern States during this time period, and an elder named Joseph Standing was killed by a mob in Varnell, Georgia on July 21, 1879. This is the same town where the Elledge family lived. (It was previously called Varnell's Station, and is in Whitfield Co., Georgia. In 1952 President David O. McKay dedicated a monument to Elder Standing at the site of his murder). One of the church membership records of the Elledge family said that they lived at Tiger Creek, Whitfield County, Georgia; the others all said Varnell or Varnell's Station; so they must have lived very near the town, but probably out in the country a few miles. According to Manassa Colorado Ward membership records, Elizabeth Nations Elledge and two of the children in the family were baptized or confirmed by Elder Joseph Standing in 1878 and 1879, not long before he was killed. Other members of the Elledge family were baptized in March and August of 1879, both before and after the elder was killed, so they must have also experienced a lot of persecution in connection with these events.
In doing some research, I found a book called MORMON COLONIZATION OF THE SAN LUIS VALLEY, COLORADO, 1878-1900; which was a BYU Master's Thesis. The author says that John Morgan, president of the Southern States Mission, led groups of converts by train to Colorado to start a new colonization effort for the Church. (John Morgan was also mentioned in the membership records of the Elledge family, as having baptized or confirmed some of them in 1878 and 1879). The first group of converts, who started west in late 1877, consisted of about a dozen families and a number of single men. The idea to start a colony in Texas or New Mexico for the southern Saints desiring to emigrate west was first suggested by Brigham Young in mid-1877; later the San Luis Valley of Colorado was selected as the most promising location. However, Brigham Young passed away just before the first group of converts started west, so the colony did not have as much supervision and support as they might otherwise have had. After arriving in Pueblo they decided it was too late in the year to continue on, so they had to find a location to spend the winter. They pooled all their money and entered a "united order," and built some barracks on an island in the Arkansas River, one mile from the center of the city of Pueblo; many of them found work there also. In the spring they went on to the San Luis Valley, purchased some land from the Mexican owners, and planted crops.
The San Luis Valley is located on the route of the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, so people of Hispanic origin had settled there beginning in the 1840's. The oldest church in Colorado, a Catholic Church, is located in the San Luis Valley, which is actually the upper valley of the Rio Grande River, and therefore both culturally and geographically more a part of New Mexico than of Colorado. The valley measures about 35 miles wide by 70 miles long, and the flat, marshy valley floor, with lots of natural artesian wells, lies at about 7,500 feet in elevation with 14,000 ft. peaks surrounding it, so it has very cold winters and a short growing season. However, the valley settlements did quite well until they were hit hard by the depression. Then many people moved away because the agriculture business never really rebounded after the depression, and it is hard for people to earn a living there. Hay, potatoes, lettuce, sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, and eggs are the main things produced in the valley.
The first white men known to have passed through the valley were the Glenn-Fowler Expedition in 1821, under the leadership of Hugh Glenn from Virginia. This was a trapping/trading expedition which opened up the southwest for the fur trade, trade with the Indians and Mexicans, and also led to the opening of the Santa Fe Trail. The Mormons from the Southern States were the first whites to settle in the San Luis Valley.
Unlike most of the other colonization efforts by the Church, the southern converts did not have much money, supplies, tools, or equipment to start with. In May 1878 they wrote to Church President John Taylor requesting that some families from Utah be sent to assist them, since they were unfamiliar with irrigation practices, the ways of the frontier, and many church procedures; being all recent converts. Several families from Manti, Utah -- mostly Scandinavian converts -- came in the fall of 1878, under leadership of Bishop Hans Jensen, who took charge of the colony after his arrival. The townsite of Manassa was selected in early 1879, and the second group of southern Saints arrived in late March of that year, totaling about 50 converts from Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia. They assembled at Chattanooga, Tennessee for departure by train, and were followed by three more "companies" that year; the Elledges coming in one of these. Most of the southern converts were very poor, and their Mexican neighbors generously helped them get established in the first few years; loaning and renting them equipment and tools, also loaning them a herd of cattle free of charge, for milk, butter, and cheese. Also President John Taylor sent them money for seed grain and farming implements. The colonists remained highly optimistic and enthusiastic about their prospects for the future in the valley.
Opposition to the Church was growing throughout the southern states, and in an article entitled "Mob Law in Georgia" from the Deseret Evening News, a notice from the citizens of Habersham County, Georgia was quoted:

"To the Mormons of the County of White and everywhere else: You are hereby notified not to make any more tracks on this side of the river (Chattahoochee), for you are not fit to pollute the air with your false doctrine. We just give you this not of warning to keep from hurting you; but if you or anybody else comes over in Habersham, telling your big Mormon lies any more, you will be dealt with almost unmercifully; that is, you will not get back with all the skin on your backs. You had better rake up your subjects and leave the State. A word to the wise is enough."


The anti-Mormon sentiment throughout the South was perhaps stronger than elsewhere in the U.S.; however, a nationwide wave of popular feeling against the Mormons swept over the country during the years 1879-1884 because of agitation stirred up by the press. Several laws were passed against polygamy during these years, so most of the converts to the Church came west to escape the persecution. The Church history manual says that

"John Morgan, remembering a dream he had even before he joined the Church, was led to a small community in Georgia where he taught the gospel and baptized almost everyone who lived there. ... As the Church continued to grow in the South, opposition increased rapidly. On 21 July 1879, Elders Joseph Standing and Rudger Clawson were planning to leave for a conference of the Church in Rome, Georgia. While traveling in the area of Varnell's Station, they were surrounded by a dozen armed ruffians who threatened them and led them into a forest. While three of the men rode off to search for a more secluded area, the elders were verbally abused. When the three returned, Elder Standing, who had somehow gotten a gun, suddenly stood, aimed it at them, and yelled, "surrender!" Quickly a man seated next to him fired at the young elder, hitting him in the face. Faced with a dozen rifles, Elder Clawson folded his arms and calmly awaited death. The rifles were lowered, and he was allowed to go for help for his companion. Returning with others (perhaps the Elledges among them, since they were some of the members who lived nearby), Elder Clawson found his companion dead, having been shot several times in the head and neck at point-blank range. Elder Standing's body, attended by Elder Clawson, was taken to Salt Lake City where he was reverently honored by the Saints as yet another martyr to the divine cause they shared. At the time of the murder, Joseph Standing had served sixteen months of a second mission to the southern states and was expecting his release at any time ... because of his kind, mild, and wise manner, President John Morgan had assigned him to the hostile district of Georgia ... News of Joseph Standing's murder in Georgia greatly affected the Church in Utah, and nearly ten thousand people attended his funeral in the Salt Lake Tabernacle ... President John Morgan and Elder Clawson later returned to Georgia to testify against the murderers, who were nevertheless acquitted ... Five years later, on 10 August 1884, the Cane Creek Massacre took place in Lewis County, Tennessee, wherein two missionaries -- John H. Gibbs and William S. Berry -- and two members of the Condor family at whose home they were holding a Sabbath meeting, were killed by a mob; also the leader of the mob was killed. As in the case of Elder Standing, the murderers were tried and acquitted. In 1888 yet another missionary was killed by a mob in Mississippi.


Organized "companies" of converts from the southern states mission, emigrating by train, continued to come to Colorado to gather to Zion throughout the 1880's and into the 1890's; others came on to Utah or settled elsewhere. (The Bray and Berry families from Chickasaw County, Mississippi were some of our other ancestors, who were converted to the LDS Church in 1888 and came west. They started off with a company of Southern converts who were bound for the San Luis Valley in Colorado, but they transferred to another train in Denver, and came to Provo, Utah instead.)
Reference to "D.H. Elledge" (Dillingham Horton Elledge, my 3rd great-grandfather) occurs a couple of times in the thesis about the San Luis Valley: first, that he purchased a flour mill for the colony at Manassa, in partnership with Silas S. Smith, a cousin of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who came from Utah to the San Luis Valley in 1880, after being appointed president of the newly created San Juan mission (Silas S. Smith led the expedition down through Hole-In-The-Rock in 1879, with Platte DeAlton Lyman, son of Amasa M. Lyman and Eliza Maria Partridge, as assistant captain).
The second reference to D.H. Elledge in the BYU thesis states that he was one of the Stake High Council, called in early June 1883 when the stake was first organized, under direction of Joseph F. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and Brigham Young, Jr. The number of Saints in the valley had grown to over 800 by this time, and Manassa, Ephraim, and Richfield were each established as wards, and the settlement of Los Cerritos was made an independent branch.



Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra Shuler Bray