JAMES H. ELLEDGE was from an LDS convert family who moved to Colorado with other converts from the Southern States Mission around 1879. James met and married Mary Ann Wilson soon after moving to Colorado; they lived there for most of their lives, but in their later years moved to the area of Los Angeles, California. James H. Elledge had been born in Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia, 24 June 1854, the son of Dillingham Horten Elledge (b. 1822 in Tennessee; d. 1895 in Manassa, Colorado) and Elizabeth Nations (b. 1829 in Georgia; d. 1912 in Franklin, Arizona).
James H. Elledge, the fourth child in his parents' family, was 25 years old in when they moved to Colorado, and still single. It appears that he did not join the Church at this time, but he moved west with the rest of the family. (James didn't join the Church until 1911, after his children were mostly grown). He was a grocery store owner in Colorado for many years. His brothers and sisters, who all came to Colorado and were members of the Church except the oldest son, were:

          ZACHARIAH TAYLOR ELLEDGE (1847-1887)
          MARY FRANCES ELLEDGE (b. 1848 in Varnell, Georgia,
              married Ignatius Henry Huffaker in 1867, 
	      d. 1944 in Pueblo and is buried in Manassa, CO)
          GEORGE WASHINGTON ELLEDGE (1852-1887,
              married Sarah Moyers in Manassa)
          JAMES HORTEN ELLEDGE (1854-1942,
              married Mary Ann Wilson)
          ISRAEL WARREN ELLEDGE (1857-1919,
              married to Mrs. Annie B. Smith, a widow)
          ELIZABETH JANE ELLEDGE (b. 1858,
              married Stephen Augustus Smith, 1882 in Manassa, 
	      died in Manassa in 1929)
          JOSEPH CRITTENDEN ELLEDGE (1861-1948,
              married Anna Rebecca Christensen in 1893, 
	      died in Arizona)
          WILLIAM HORTEN ELLEDGE (1864-1865)
          SUSAN IDA ELLEDGE (b. 1866,
              married William Felix Moyers in 1884 in Manassa, 
	      died in 1935 in Franklin, AZ)
          LAURA EUGENE ELLEDGE (b. 1870,
              married James Franklin McGrath in 1904 in Thatcher, AZ;
	      died 1938 in Duncan, AZ)


The Elledges must have been a little more prosperous than many of the other southern converts who came to the San Luis Valley, since they had enough money to purchase a mill and start a store. One of the Elledges' daughters later married a son of stake president Silas S. Smith: Stephen A. Smith, who was a member of the Hole-In-The-Rock expedition. Several other members of this expedition also moved to the Manassa, Colorado area instead of settling in Bluff, Utah. (When the members of the Hole-In-The-Rock expedition were first called on their mission to settle and colonize on the San Juan River, the Church leaders probably intended them to settle further upstream on the San Juan River anyhow, near the area of Farmington, New Mexico and closer to the San Luis Valley, instead of in the remote area of Bluff, but when they arrived in Bluff, they were "too tired to go any further").


MARY ANN WILSON, James Elledge's wife, had been born in Leavenworth, Kansas; the daughter of Franklin Bascom Wilson II (b. 1825 in Kentucky, d. 1913 in Vernal or Myton, Utah) and Lavinia Benson Pickett (b. 1837 in Indiana; d. 1906 in Manassa, Colorado). Franklin was the son of Franklin Bascom Wilson I (1790-1840) and Nancy Washington (1789-??) of Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky. (Published sources show that the several Washington families in this area of northern Kentucky, and also across the state boundary in Cincinnati, Ohio just to the north, were descendants of one of GEORGE WASHINGTON's brothers. No birth record has yet been found for Nancy, so it is not known just which family she fits into). Franklin Bascom Wilson II's wife, Lavinia Benson Pickett, was the daughter of John S. Pickett and Judith Benson, who also lived in Covington, Kenton, Kentucky. Soon after Mary Ann Wilson was born in Kansas 27 September 1857, she moved with her parents Franklin and Lavinia to St. Joseph, Missouri, where it is said that her father was the editor of the newspaper "St. Joseph Chronicle" in the 1860's (according to my grandmother, but I haven't verified this yet).
St. Joseph was the town where the Pony Express was launched from in 1860, so there was a lot of activity going on there at the time. Also, Kansas was caught up in a bloody struggle between pro- and anti-slavery partisans in the years immediately preceding the civil war. Many people who felt strongly (one way or the other), moved into the new state in order to swell the numbers when the slavery issue was due to come up for a vote, and Kansas towns sprang up almost overnight. But then, after several bloody raids by border ruffians, in which many people were killed, families would flee back to the relative safety of Missouri. Historians say that many people moved back and forth several times because of these circumstances, and perhaps the Wilson family was one of those caught up in the controversy over slavery, since records show that they moved back and forth several times from Kansas to Missouri, both before and after the Civil War. The Wilson family again moved back to Kansas in the 1870's, and later moved to southwestern Colorado, around the same time as the Elledge family (1879), with their 7 children (3 others had died young). Their last child, Howard Allen Wilson, was born in Delta, Colorado in 1882.
Our ancestor Mary Ann Wilson, the oldest child in the Wilson family, met and married James Horton Elledge in Grand Junction, Colorado 12 June 1880 (Mary Ann Wilson was later baptized into the LDS Church, in 1911, along with her husband, but her parents and other family members apparently never joined the Church. Her parents lived in Manassa, Colorado for a time, which was almost exclusively an LDS town, but probably only moved there to be near their daughter and her family).
Beulah Mae Elledge, like her mother the oldest in her family, was born in the scenic mining town of Ouray, Colorado, high in the majestic Colorado Rockies, on 30 November 1881. The town of Ouray, called "The Switzerland of America" and "The Gem of the Rockies," was founded in 1875, and was named after Chief Ouray of the Ute Indian tribe. Because of the mining boom (both gold and silver were discovered in the area), the population in Ouray grew very quickly, and both the demand for good and prices rose sky-high because of the difficulty of transporting things to Ouray, the only way being by muletrain over treacherous trails. Apparently James Elledge and his bride Mary Ann moved to Ouray soon after their marriage in 1880, because of the challenge and opportunity it presented for a storekeeper. Even today the drive from Durango through Silverton to Ouray is very scary, on the winding, cliff hugging "Million Dollar Highway," which was quite a challenge to all of the best engineering skills of the time when it was built in 1923. It crosses Red Mountain Pass, which is over 11,000 feet high. Snowslides and rockslides are frequent, and in several places near Ouray there are structures built to protect the highway from these dangers. Ouray lies in a small, steep-sided valley nearly surrounded by cliffs, and it has many hot springs. Deer, mountain lions, bear, bighorn sheep and even mountain goats are often seen in town during the winter. The San Juan Mountain Range of southwestern Colorado, source of the San Juan, Rio Grande, Conejos, Alamosa, Los Pinos, Animas, LaPlata, San Miguel, Dolores, and Uncompaghre Rivers, is one of the youngest and therefore most steep and rugged mountain ranges in the Rockies, containing several peaks over 14,000 feet high, more than any other mountain range of the Rockies. It contains many different kinds of minerals.
After Beulah Mae was born, the family moved to Grand Junction, where twins Dora and Cora Elledge were born in 1883 but died at birth. Later the family moved to back to Manassa, where the rest of the children were born:
Children of James and Mary Ann Elledge:

    BEULAH MAE (b. 1881)
    DORA and CORA (b. 1883)
    WILLIAM HARVEY (b. 1887)
    ESTELLA LOVINIA (b. 1890)
    DILLINGHAM FRANKLIN (b. 1892)
    JAMES WARREN (b. 1895)
    ARTHUR LEONARD (b. 1898)

(Another record says they were all born in Ouray except the last two, who were born in Manassa).
During this period quite a number of prominent polygamous families from Utah came to the San Luis Valley to find a temporary place of refuge to hide out from the U.S. marshalls; included among them were apostles John Henry Smith, Francis M. Lyman, and Heber J. Grant; John Morgan of the First Council of Seventy (former president of the Southern States Mission, and founder of a business college in Salt Lake City), and B.H. (Brigham Henry) Roberts, soon to be appointed to the First Council of Seventy, who became a well-known Church author and one of the foremost theologians of the Church.

"There were undoubtedly others, but because names were frequently altered and written records avoided in order to escape detection by federal marshalls, their identities are uncertain. Even among the Saints, it was not uncommon to be unaware of the true identity of a newly arrived neighbor, and there was a general understanding that questions along this line were best left unasked."


Inharmonious relations between local Church members continued to cause problems: in Feb. 1892, economic controversies surrounded the resignation of Stake President Silas S. Smith, and in 1896 the entire Bishopric of the Manassa Ward resigned their positions, stating in a letter to Wilford Woodruff that they were unable to work harmoniously with the new Stake Presidency. But the situation was improved after Apostle John W. Taylor visited the valley in August 1897; his characteristic friendliness and sense of humor made him a great favorite among members of the Church everywhere. At this time he was also serving as President of the newly organized Colorado Mission of the Church, and on his way through the San Luis Valley he stopped at the homes of many of the Saints to introduce himself and to get acquainted with them, and invited everyone to come along on a fishing expedition up Conejos Canyon.

"A personal invitation to spend a day or two with Apostle Taylor was something few Saints could resist, and they followed him into the canyon in such numbers that it appeared a mass migration was underway. The fishing was reported to have been excellent, and several evenings were spent around the campfire singing, telling stories, and the like. A genuine spirit of comradeship was established through the good humor and amiability of Apostle Taylor, and in the good time that everyone was having, many troubles were forgotten and many personal antagonisms ended."

It was observed also that "at the evening sessions around the campfire, a considerable bit of gospel doctrine was dispensed, and by what seemed "coincidence," prominent Church brethren just happened to be traveling through and stopped off at the camp a day or so for the fishing. If pressed, the brethren offered a few faith-promoting remarks at the campfire." Apostle John W. Taylor's visit did much to restore morale, faith, and harmony in the valley, and he left "trailing a legend of prophecy and inspiration behind him."
The "reformation" associated with his visit had a lingering effect, and after this the degree of unity and brotherhood among the Saints was generally at a higher level than had been true of earlier years, and the trend of an increasing number of excommunications during the years immediately preceding his visit was greatly reversed. The "naturally warm-hearted, generous feeling of the southern people" was conducive to the "warm, delightful cordiality, a nearness of brother to brother, and a Gospel spirit of love and co-operation" which pervaded the whole community, as one article said.
In 1912 James and Mary Ann moved to the Gila River Valley in eastern Arizona, where several of their relatives were already located. (See the story written by their youngest son, Arthur Leonard Elledge, who was a teenager at the time.) They lived there for several years, during the time of the First World War, and after. In their later years they moved to California. Mary Ann Wilson Elledge died Jan. 2, 1940 in Los Angeles, at age 82. James Horton Elledge died Feb. 14, 1942 in Los Angeles, at age 87.



Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra Shuler Bray