LUTITIA SHEARER was born February 9, 1822 in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Lutitia was the oldest of her parents' children, except for one older brother, John, who had died at the age of 20 months shortly after Lutitia was born. She was followed by four sisters:

    SARAH SHEARER (1823-1846)
    MARY ANN SHEARER (1825-1893)

and then four brothers:

    DANIEL SHEARER (1832-1842)
    THOMAS JEFFERSON SHEARER (1834-abt.1860)

and finally another sister and brother:

    MARIA JANE SHEARER (1839-1860)
    JAMES ALFRED SHEARER (1842-1898)

making a total of twelve children in the family. At the time her parents joined the LDS Church in 1830, their family consisted of Lutitia (8), Sarah (7), Mary Ann (5), Phebe (3), Harriet (2), and the baby, William (6 months).
According to Lutitia's granddaughter, the father of the family, Joel Shearer was a school teacher.

"He taught school six miles from their home (in Bradford County, Pennsylvania). Grandma (Lutitia) would do up the work each morning, then walk this distance to attend school. Since none of the older children were boys, Lutitia often had to help with the outside work. Her father and his brothers owned a big plantation of logging timber and their own sawmill on their land. It often fell to her to get a load of wood, and many times the hungry wolves would follow the wagon, causing her to drive very rapidly, as she was very frightened. Her father had poor health, so one of his brothers hauled logs for him and piled them to be made into a fence. Lutitia was quite robust, so she was set to work making the fence around the 160 acres that belonged to her father. It wasn't so hard to put up the bottom logs which were not very high, but it was very hard for her to put on the top ones. I don't know whether she told me or not how long it took her to make that fence.

(This actually might have occurred later, when the family lived in Indiana, when Lutitia was a little older).
In 1830, the year the Church was organized, the Shearer family heard of the "strange Mormon religion." When they went to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith, Lutitia's baby brother William was cutting teeth. He was feverish and cross, so Lutitia (who was then 8), could not sit down and listen to the Prophet, as she had to stand or walk with the baby around the outside of the crowd, for it was an outside bowery. She could see the Prophet, but only caught a word now and then. Her parents joined the Church in November of 1830."
Since the children born between 1825 and 1832 were born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, it is supposed that the family was baptized there, and thus belonged to the branch Brigham Young visited while investigating the Church in 1831 or 1832. (Apparently around 1824 or 1825, the Shearers had moved from Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles north to Bradford County, Pennsylvania). They lived there until after 1832, when they moved west to gather with the Saints. The Susquehanna River runs right through Bradford County; this county is along the boundary with the state of New York, and just west of Susquehanna County, where the translation of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the priesthood had taken place in 1829. Joseph Smith lived in Harmony, Pennsylvania from December 1827 to June 1829, about 60 miles east of where the Shearer family lived.

"They loved the Gospel, for it brought joy into their lives. Grandma would tell of how her father would read a chapter from the scriptures every morning, then the family would sing a hymn, as her mother was a very pretty singer. After this they would have their family prayer. They found time for such a wonderful devotion every day.
"Grandmother (Lutitia) was baptized in the Church when she was 16, the same year the mobbing and persecution broke out, 1838. She tells how the mob were all around. They didn't know what night their homes might be burned. They slept with their clothes and shoes on, to be ready to run any moment. Her father was taken prisoner by the mob for one week with other of the Saints. Many experiences of interest she has told of how they had to hide from the mobs for safety. At the time of the burning and mobbing, Joseph Smith counseled the people to hide stashes of food and clothing as much as possible. Many did store them away in various places for emergencies. At one time when they received word to get clean clothing to the men, it fell to Grandma and Sarah Parker to go to the cornfield to get it from the hiding place. Since the mob was around, they disguised themselves by wearing long black capes and pulling black caps over their heads, and took a lantern under their capes. When they got to the cornfield, they had to count the rows of corn so as to know which one to go down. They found the clothes and managed to get them, but right as they emerged from the corn they saw a man with coat collar turned up and cap pulled over his face. The girls drew close together in fear. You can imagine how frightened they were, thinking it was one of the mob. But as the man drew near, he spoke quietly, calling Sarah by name, and they knew then it was one of their men. He told them where to leave the clothes as he passed by, and quickly went on his way, so as to not attract any attention in case the mob was nearby."

Lutitia Shearer was married to Joseph Warthen on March 11, 1841, in Atlas, Pike County, Illinois, when she was nineteen years of age and her husband was 29. Lutitia's husband Joseph Warthen had been born 1 Dec 1811 in Washington, Licking Co., Ohio, the son of Alban (or Albert) S. Warthen (1788-1833), an innkeeper and farmer, who was born in Maryland, and Elizabeth Vance (1793-1884) from Rockingham Co., Virginia.
Their first son was born about a year later in Atlas, Pike County, Illinois.

    ALBERT BURGESS WARTHEN (b. 31 March 1842)

Some time after this they moved to Nauvoo. The persecution still went on, and they endured very much. When her first little boy (the biography written by her granddaughter says "girl," but she had no girls until after they left Nauvoo) was two years old, he wandered out into the street one day. Grandma ran after him as quickly as she could, but just then one of the mob came riding up on a horse and stated he would kill the little Mormon. He would have run him down but the horse refused, spreading his front feet over the child just as Grandma snatched him away to safety. The man rode on cursing. "It surely looked like the hand of Providence protected the child."
Lutitia and Joseph Warthen's second child was born in Nauvoo.

    BRIGHAM HEBER WARTHEN (b. 27 May 1845)

It was apparently around this same time, that her 3-year-old, Albert, wandered away one day, following the cows into the woods.

"As soon as his mother missed him, they and the neighbors began to search, and even the Militia was called out. They looked all day but were unable to find any trace of him. They tried to get Grandma to return home, as she was ill at the time (in pioneer accounts, when they say that a woman was "ill" or "sick", it usually means that she was expecting a baby soon or was going into labor, or laid up after the birth of a baby). She sat down on a log to rest for a few moments, for it had been a long and discouraging search, and she feared that the wolves had eaten the child, but she was still pleading earnestly to the Lord to spare her child and protect him. As she sat there, she thought she heard a faint little cry in the distance wailing, "Mother, where are you?" This gave her renewed hope, for she was given an assurance that the Lord would protect her child. They continued their search all night, and at 11 o'clock the next morning they found him where he had crawled beside a big log and was asleep, with his hands full of hazelnuts. She thanked her Heavenly Father for protecting the child. She never lost faith in her Father in Heaven."
"Grandma was living close to the place where the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith took place. She tells what a terrible trying ordeal it was, and also the sad condition the Mormon people were left in until Brigham Young stepped forward telling them he would lead them by God's direction and inspiration. She heard his voice and testified of the power and influence that came upon him. Everyone who heard him said that the power of God was with him and he was transfigured as he spoke, so that for a few moments he spoke just like the Prophet Joseph, looked just like him, and it seemed like Joseph was with them again. This was the testimony that gave them the assurance that Brigham Young was to be their next leader, and they sustained him unanimously over the rival claimants. Often have I heard her tell of the wonderful manifestation of the power of God on this occasion."

After leaving Nauvoo, they stayed in Council Bluffs for four years, where two more children were born:

    MARY ANN OLIVE WARTHEN (b. 23 Mar 1849)

They came on to Salt Lake in 1850. They lived in Salt Lake for a time, where another son was born:


Joseph Warthen had been ordained a Seventy in Nauvoo and endowed in the Nauvoo Endowment House 20 January 1846, but hadn't been sealed to his wife Lutitia. Apparently his faith had faltered somewhat. "Lutitia had been given a blessing saying that she would be a savior of her father's family. Since they had strayed from the Church, it was up to her to do the temple sealings for her relatives. She didn't know how this would come about, since her husband did not ever consent to take her to get her endowments and have her sealed to him, and the children sealed to them.
In 1852 they moved to Provo. Soon after locating in Provo, her husband Joseph began talking of moving his family to the west coast and going to sea. He wanted to take his oldest son, who was then 10 years old, and teach him to be a sailor. This was a great trial to Lutitia. She had come to Zion for the Gospel's sake; she had suffered and endured so much. She could hardly stand the thought of leaving the Saints again. Her husband seemed determined, but "God moves in a mysterious way." Grandma and her children were permitted to stay among the Saints, but she was called to experience a very sad trial, that of losing her husband. He was shot in bed beside her, soon after they had gone to bed, about 11:00 o'clock at night. Perhaps it would be of interest to learn of the circumstances that would lead up to such an act.

"In the neighborhood lived a man by the name of Hicks, who was going to move his family to California. There was one in his family who did not want to go. She was keeping company with a young man who was a Mormon. She desired to remain with him, even though her father would not consent. Mr. Warthen was a kind, generous hearted man who owned several teams and carriages, or operated a livery stable of sorts. All who knew him felt free in asking a favor of him, so the young man came, asking to borrow a horse and buggy, telling Joseph that he had no money, but needed to go south to Nephi, to visit some relatives. Joseph Warthen, favoring all men alike, would have gladly done the same and more for anybody, as he never refused a favor to any man. Questioning the young man no further, he loaned him the team and carriage, and the young man and his sweetheart eloped that night.
Warthen knew nothing of the family row, but the father of the girl, upon discovering the next day that Joseph Warthen's carriage disappeared the same time as his daughter, was convinced that Joseph had helped the young man in his plan to elope. Mr. Hicks came to Joseph Warthen's home, and hot words were exchanged, but Joseph invited him inside, saying they shouldn't quarrel, but that he would help find the girl. From the time the man entered the house until after he left, Joseph's wife Lutitia had cold chills and a horrid feeling pass over her, "even to the extent that the hand of the destroyer seemed present." She saw that the man looked around and took note of the position and situation of everything in the room before leaving, and he turned to Grandpa and said, "I will have revenge for what you have done."
"It was a very small house, and all of the family, the parents and five children, slept in one room. The children were Albert (10), Brigham (6), Harriet (4), Mary Ann (3), and William (6 months). At night they would spread quilts on the floor for the children to sleep on, close to their own bed, and the baby William Joseph slept between them. Every evening, before going to bed, they threw a log on the fire, as this gave them both light and warmth. About eleven someone came to the window and called Mr. Warthen. He raised on his elbow answering, "Hello, come in, my friends," just as a shot was fired through the window. He fell back in bed by the side of his wife and child.
The doctor lived about twelve miles away. Grandma tried to get the hired man to go for help, but he was so frightened and overcome that she had to go herself for the doctor. Joseph Warthen lived three days after he was shot, but he died 28 April 1852.
Evidence that Hicks was there was found, and he was arrested and tried in Salt Lake City. The day after the murder, he had been caught by a posse north of the point of the mountain, and his horse was very tired and sweaty. However, his brother swore that Hicks had been at his house in Salt Lake on the night of the murder, and had been hurrying to return to Provo when he was caught, so Hicks was given his liberty.
"Grandma sold her home and property, and her husband's business on State Street in Provo, which was a butcher shop. She married again and became the second wife of David Avery Curtis, August 28, 1852. They lived in Springville and were in very humble circumstances when she went into his family, so Grandma divided all her comforts with them, being left a well-to-do widow. She was kind-hearted with her means and of a very peaceful disposition. With the money from the businesses she had sold, they bought a farm and built a four room log cabin, which was considered a large house at that time. Lutitia had another daughter,

    MARIA JANE CURTIS, 23 September 1853.

Grandfather Curtis married again to a third wife, after which he was called on a mission to England.
"It was the spring of 1855 that he left on his mission. Grandma was left with six children, three boys and three girls, the oldest being twelve years old. This was the year that the grasshoppers were so bad. She went with her children to help fight the hoppers off the wheat. She helped them water and take care of the crops. Sometimes she could hire help, sometimes she couldn't, because everyone was so busy with their own farm. That year she sold everything about the house, such as articles used at the shop, etc., in order to buy corn and bread for her dear ones. Often did she say that the Lord was very kind to her, for during these perilous times, during the grasshopper period, her family had bread once a day, also plenty of milk, butter, and cheese.
"On July 28th she put on a pair of boots, and although she was ill (expecting a baby any time) she watered all night, because she could get no help so it was up to her. The next day her second Curtis child was born, a little girl who she named

    PHOEBE ELIZABETH, born 29 July 1855.

When Grandma was again strong enough to resume her daily tasks, she took her children and went in the field to glean wheat. There was such a large family of wives and children that Grandma had to keep! She often sat at the spinning all day from early until late. Three years later, after her husband had returned from his mission, she gave birth to a boy who was named after his father,

    DAVID AVERY CURTIS, Jr., born 29 July 1858.

Her health broke down because of all her hard work, and for two years she lay on her back very ill (apparently this was not just a physical but a nervous breakdown also); but by the hand of Providence her life was spared to raise her children.
"She had great faith in her Redeemer and was a faithful Latter-day Saint. She had great faith in paying an honest tithing, right to the cent. She also paid donations to help build each of the temples in Utah, also took great pleasure in going to her meetings and assisting in all good causes, and taught her children to do the same."

Remember Lutitia had been told in her blessing that she would be a savior of her father's family? When she married David Avery Curtis, they were sealed 28 August 1852, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake (unfortunately, they later separated -- she felt that Mr. Curtis had married her only because she was a well-to-do widow, and that he later basically abandoned her and her children when she became ill). However, the Lord healed her and she was blessed to do the temple work for her parents; also her brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. She outlived them all, although she was the oldest of her parents' children. Lutitia Shearer Warthen Curtis had 8 children, 50 grandchildren, 220 great-grandchildren, and over 500 great great grandchildren at the time this was written. These are her own words taken from a short sketch of her life, found in a box with other valuable papers:

"I have passed through many mobbings and persecutions and trials of many kinds, but the Lord has sustained me and guided me through the rough places. I have been sick, nigh unto death three times, but by my faith and prayers and the power of the Lord and Priesthood, my life was spared to raise my family and do the work of my father's household."

She passed away September 19, 1903, age 81, at the home of her daughter Mary Ann Olive Warthen Davis Shuler, at Payson, Utah County, Utah. She is buried in the Springville Cemetery, near her first husband, Joseph Warthen, and their son William Joseph Warthen (1851-1880). The first husband of their daughter Mary Ann, William W. Davis (1834-1869) is also buried there.

"If we could partly understand the great trials our fathers and mothers were called to pass through, it would help us to appreciate the wonderful opportunities we have at present. It is through their strength and bravery under the hand of God that we are surrounded by the comforts of this life."

Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra S. Bray