JOSHUA MECHAM (son of Samuel Meacham II and Phebe Main), was born April 12, 1773 at Canaan, New Hampshire. He married Permelia Chapman, who was the daughter of Samuel Chapman and Hannah Fox. Their children were all born in Canaan, Grafton County, New Hampshire.
There were nine children:
1. JOSHUA MECHAM Jr. (1795-1841), md. LUCINA HARMON; 2. SAMUEL CHAPMAN MECHAM (1798-1882), md. 1-ELIZABETH BALL and 2-MARY E. COLLINGS; 3. PERMELIA MECHAM (1800-1868), md. GARDNER ELDRIDGE; 4. EDWARD MECHAM (1802-1895), md. IRENE CURRIER; 5. LEONIDAS MOSES WORTHEN MECHAM (1804-1878), md. ELVIRA DERBY; 6. ELIZABETH MECHAM (1807-1887), md. FRANCIS KIDDER; **7. EPHRAIM MECHAM (1808-1891), md. POLLY DERBY; 8. CALEB MECHAM (1810-1852), md. MARY CURRIER; 9. LEWIS MECHAM (1812-1895), md. LYDIA WELLS.
Later the family moved from New Hampshire to New York and then on south to Mercer, Erie County, Pennsylvania. The year they arrived at Mercer is unknown, but believed to be around 1827. During the spring of 1836, Joshua came in contact with "Mormon" missionaries and was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (at age 63). He and his wife Permelia, along with some of their sons (Edward, Ephraim, and Lewis) and the sons' wives and families were baptized and moved to gather with the Saints in Missouri, later settling in Iowa. Here another son, Moses Mecham, had previously settled in 1836. He was converted to the Church in 1839 in Iowa -- his conversion story follows).
Joshua Mecham's younger brothers (Elam Mecham and Joseph Mecham) and some of their families also joined the Church, as mentioned previously. Presumably they were all converted around the same time (1836 or 1837) in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
Three of Joshua and Permelia Chapman Mecham's sons (Joshua Mecham Jr., Samuel Chapman Mecham, and Caleb Mecham) and their daughters (Permelia Mecham Eldridge and Elizabeth Mecham Kidder) never joined the Church, and remained in the East.Quoting from Polly Derby Mecham:
"Joshua Mecham had nine children, all of whom reached their maturity. The mother being justly praised for her care over them...
The story of (Joshua Mecham's son) Moses Mecham's conversion has been preserved and written down, as follows:
"In the spring of 1836 he with his family moved to Kendrick, Iowa. The glowing reports of the western frontiers and of that wonderful Oregon country was the urge that started them westward. In Iowa, Moses engaged in the mercantile business, being very successful and prosperous. Sometime during the year 1838 he learned for the first time that his father Joshua and other members of his father's family had joined the Mormon Church. This worried him as he had witnessed seeing small companies of Mormons who had been driven from their homes (in Missouri) by a mob of bloodthirsty men; he realized fully just how unpopular they were. He started to investigate why the Mormons were persecuted because of their religious belief and what there was in their message that had interested other members of his family to join them. After studying earnestly for some time, he just couldn't get a testimony that it was true. So, one night he and his wife prayed to the Lord asking Him to bless them with a testimony as to the truthfulness of the gospel message given to them.
It seems that none of the Mechams kept diaries or journals; like many people on the frontier in those days, they may have not have had much opportunity to attend school, and felt their literary skills to be inadequate. In the Diary of Hosea Stout, on Aug. 28 and Sept. 3, 1845 in Nauvoo he mentions that "Brother Lewis Mecham came here this morning and I wrote and finished his biographical history." Apparently Brother Stout wrote and arranged Lewis Mecham's story for him since he couldn't write very well himself.
Brother Stout also mentioned on 25 Aug 1845, "went on patrol guard with Parker, (Shadrach) Roundy, (Joseph) Warthan, (James) Pace, two of the Mechams and Langley; was out nearly all night." Apparently a few of the Mechams were in the police or guard patrol of Nauvoo at this time. However, since most of the Mechams lived on the Iowa side of the river, they weren't as closely involved with events in Nauvoo. At a conference of the Church held in Zarahemla, Iowa on Aug. 7-10, 1841 (from Times & Seasons Vol. 2:22:547:11), it is mentioned that "Bishop (Don Carlos) Smith (the Prophet Joseph Smith's younger brother) represented the branch at the Mecham settlement, consisting of about 65 members generally in good standing." There was a total of 750 members in all of Iowa at that time.
Joshua Mecham, along with others of his family, acted as bodyguard to the prophet Joseph Smith at various times. His two sons Moses and Lewis were called on missions, going to two different tribes of Indians. They were well received, feeling their mission was a success. The patriarchal blessing of Joshua Mecham, given Apr. 19, 1845 in Nauvoo by patriarch John Smith, reads in part, "The Lord is well pleased with thee because of thine obedience to His gospel in thine old age. Because thou art willing to forsake all for the sake of the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant; the Lord will grant unto thee all things which you desire, even the Holy Priesthood in fulness...thy wisdom shall reach unto the Heavens and thine understanding to the ends of the earth; thou shall have power to do mighty miracles, even all that comes into thine heart, and to the increase of thy posterity there shall be no end."
Joshua Mecham died October 8, 1846, at Bonaparte, Van Buren County, Iowa at the age of 73 (this is on the Mormon trail, just west of Lee County, Iowa). His wife Permelia later came on to Utah, traveling with friends and arriving in the fall of 1850. Her son Edward with his family arrived in Utah in 1851. Permelia then lived with Edward and later with other sons as they came to Utah. Her sons Ephraim and Lewis came in 1852, and her son Moses, (Leonidas Moses Worthen Mecham) came west in 1853.
Permelia Chapman Mecham died May 19, 1866 at Heber City, Utah at the age of 89. We have tried to locate her grave but have been unsuccessful. If she was buried in the Heber City Cemetery, the burial record and marker must have been lost.
In her patriarchal blessing, given April 19, 1845 in Nauvoo, Permelia had been told "Heavenly Father (will) bless you with health and strength of body and preserve unto thee all thy sensitive powers and the faculties of thy mind and enable you to endure in patience unto the end and thou shalt inherit eternal lives...to stand at the head of thy progeny to all eternity...Thy posterity shall increase as the sands upon the sea shore or as the stars of heaven for multitudes. Thou shalt live until thou art satisfied with life and every favor which your heart desires, depart in peace, and many shall mourn thee. This is thy blessing which shall not fail."