Philo Johnson, 9th Ten

JOHN JOSHUA TANNER (1811-1896) was born in Greenwich, Washington County, New York; which is north of Albany, in the Hudson River Valley. He was a descendant of four Mayflower pilgrims: John Cooke, Francis Cooke, Richard Warren, and Miles Standish.

John Joshua Tanner

After hearing the first missionaries who were sent to northern New York in 1832, when he was 20 years of age, John Joshua Tanner accepted the gospel, along with his father John Tanner (1778-1850), his stepmother Elizabeth Beswick Tanner, his older brother Sidney (and Sidney's wife Louisa Conlee) Tanner, also John Joshua's younger brothers Nathan Tanner, Martin Henry Tanner, Albert Miles Tanner, half-brothers Myron Tanner, Seth Benjamin Tanner, Freeman Everton Tanner, and his sister Louisa Maria Tanner (who later became the wife of Apostle Amasa M. Lyman). Two more half-brothers, Joseph Smith Tanner and David Dan Tanner, were born after the family joined the Church. In addition to these 10 siblings of John Joshua's, there were 8 more brothers and sisters who died as young children, and also three more siblings older than John Joshua who never joined the Church. (Although not in polygamy, father John Tanner had 22 children altogether, by three different wives).

When the Tanner family accepted the restored gospel in 1832, they lived in Bolton, Warren County, New York; on the shores of beautiful Lake George in the Adirondack region of northern New York State. Father John Tanner's diseased leg was healed by a miracle, because of his faith, through the administration of the elders, so that he could be baptized. The family moved to Kirtland in 1834, and John Tanner gave large amounts of money to the prophet, which saved the temple lot from being foreclosed; and he assisted in building the Kirtland Temple. John Joshua and Nathan Tanner served in Zion's Camp, where they were commended by the Prophet for their conduct. Later the Tanners moved to Missouri, where they passed through many trials. Sidney and Nathan Tanner participated in the Battle of Crooked River, and John Joshua, Sidney, and their father John Tanner were taken prisoner by the mob. Later they moved to Montrose, Iowa, across the river from Nauvoo, and had six peaceful years before the Saints were driven from Nauvoo. When they came across the plains, Sidney, John Joshua, Nathan, and Maria Tanner Lyman were all married and had young families, and brothers Albert Miles Tanner and Myron Tanner served in the Mormon Battalion. Father John Tanner was 70 years old when he crossed the plains, and still had five young children in his care at this time.

* * *

REBECCA ARCHIBALD SMITH (1816-1854) married John Joshua Tanner in 1835 in Kirtland, Ohio. She was born 17 April 1816, in Bolton, Warren County, New York; the daughter of William Smith (1779-1858) who came from Milford, Connecticut; and Lydia Jane Calkins (1787-1874) from Dutchess County, New York. Rebecca's sister Rachel Winter Smith (1818-1896) married John Joshua's younger brother Nathan Tanner in 1836. Rachel and Rebecca came from a substantial family, and had much to offer a young man just starting out in life. They were descendants of the famous Rev. John Lathrop (1584-1653) through their grandfather James Calkins, Jr. (b. 1741 in Lebanon, Connecticut). James' mother was Abigail Huntington b. abt 1719 in Norwich, Connecticut); daughter of Rebecca Lathrop (1695-1774), whose parents were Rebecca Bliss and Israel Lathrop (1659-1733). Israel's father was Samuel Lathrop (1623-1700), son of Rev. John Lathrop.

John Joshua and Rebecca Smith Tanner were endowed in the Nauvoo Temple 30 Dec 1845 and sealed there on 28 Jan 1846. They were uprooted or forced to move at least seven times during their married life. Eventually there were nine children born to them:

           b. 28 Nov 1836 at Gallatin, Missouri and
	   died 31 Oct 1897 at Lehi, Utah, at the age of 60.
	   Married Luke TITCOMB in 1854.
	   They lived in Lehi, had 14 children.
           b. 28 Mar 1839 at New Liberty, Illinois and
           died 6 Aug 1910 at Payson, Utah, at the age of 71.
	   He married Clarissa Jane MOORE in 1868;
	   they had 14 children and also adopted an orphaned
	   Indian girl and raised her as one of their own.

"Smith" Tanner remembered as a boy living at Montrose, Iowa across the river from Nauvoo; he remembered the Prophet Joseph coming to their home and of sitting on Joseph's lap while the men talked and planned. He was 12 when the family came to Utah, and he walked and drove an ox team most of the way. He stood guard against Johnston's Army in Echo Canyon at the age of 19. After this he engaged in the freighting business with some of his uncles and brothers between California and Utah, and also across the plains and to the various mining camps in Montana and Nevada, where they made good profits.

In their travels they had many incidents with the Indians. On one trip coming up from California, while in Southern Utah the freighters came to where two tribes had had a battle. The one tribe had taken a few captives; among these was a little girl about 3 years old. The warriors didn't want to be bothered with her so they were going to kill her. Smith interceded and traded his pistol and belt for a fat steer, then traded the Indians the steer for the girl. She had no clothes, so he made her a dress by cutting a hole in a grain sack. He put her head through the hole, then cut a hole for each arm. He used to laughingly say that she was the best-dressed female in the whole freight outfit. He took her to his father's home in South Cottonwood where she lived three years until he was married, then he brought her to Payson and she lived here until she was eighteen years of age. They named her Flora Belle and had her baptized into the Church. She was dressed and sent to school like the rest of the Tanner children. She was willing and adept at keeping the house clean and was a good cook. She married a white man but died at the birth of their first baby.

Smith Tanner served in the Black Hawk Indian War, as a First Lieutenant. After his marriage he settled in Payson, and engaged in livestock raising, especially horses and mules. He would take trips to California and get horses, then drive them to Utah, where there was a good market for them. Also, on two return trips from California he brought back loads of redwood lumber and sided up the big house he built in Payson. This house still stands (1979) on the northeast corner of 4th West and Utah Avenue.

In 1877, after their first five children were born, a plague of diptheria hit Payson, and they lost four little girls. One day soon after this, Smith hitched his team to the wagon and started for West Mountain for a load of cedar wood. He had gone past the last house on the road when all of a sudden the team stopped. He heard a sound as a wind blowing, and there appeared in the air in front of him and above his team a vision. His mother (Rebecca Smith Tanner, who had died when he was 15) was there holding the youngest of the four little girls, and the other three were by her side. They were all smiling and happy. Nothing was said, but they stayed long enough for him to be assured they were all right and there was no cause to mourn. He hurried home as fast as he could and explained this to his wife.

It is said that Smith and Clarissa Tanner's home in Payson was like a free hotel -- always crowds there, besides their own large family, making a home for many homeless and poor and needy. Clarissa was Relief Society President, and at one time a call came to raise silkworms, so they had to turn a room in their home into a wormery. The members of the family were kept busy feeding them, as silkworms ate several times their weight every day, not stopping for night. The mulberry leaves for their food were gathered from the mulberry trees in the hollow where the Payson City Park now is. The business was not a success, so the Relief Society gave it up.

Clarissa often ministered to the sick, and at one time she placed back and saved the nose of one of her sons which had been cut off by the strike of a horse's hoof; another time she saved and made usable three fingers of another son which had been cut off.

Smith Tanner served a mission to Great Britain from 1882-1884, laboring in Lancashire and Liverpool with John Henry Smith, who later became an Apostle and was the father of President George Albert Smith. Smith Tanner was a very quiet man when young. It was said that he would go a whole day and not utter a solitary word. He was therefore surprised when he was called on his mission, and nobody will ever know how much he suffered in every effort he made to address the people in public. Since preaching was not his forte, he became determined to make good in other ways, so he gave generously of his means to emigrate a large number of families to Zion.

When he returned from his mission in 1884, Smith Tanner was made a member of the high council for all of Utah County, in which he served until his death in 1910; also he was ordained a patriarch in 1897 and served in this capacity also until his death. In addition, he was active in civic and business affairs in Payson. He was president of the board of both Payson Savings Bank and Payson Cooperative Store, both of which were in large measure due to his initiative. He served six years in the city council. The accumulation of property and the establishment of big business enterprises came easy to him.

At one time in his later years, when he was confined to his bed for a time, from an attack of severe inflammatory arthritis, his daughter Emma recorded the following incident: "I was in a chair sitting beside his bed when he started to talk, but I could not understand what he said. James Finlayson came to see him, and thinking my father was dying, tried to arouse him. After Mr. Finlayson left, my father expressed regret at having been disturbed, because he said he was talking to his mother and sister who were dead. He said that two women had come into the room and stood at the foot of his bed. He recognized his sister, Elsie Lant (who had died in 1888), and he asked her who the other lady was with her. She answered, 'Why Smith, this is our Mother (Rebecca Smith Tanner, who had died in 1854).' (He did not recognize her at first because she looked different than he remembered, and he had no picture of her). She had beautiful long hair which hung down her back. His mother said, 'Smith, you haven't been as good a boy as I would have liked for you to have been. You've thought too much of getting this world's goods, and it's of no value here.' She then told him of two men that he had known and that had since died -- one had been poor in earthly treasures but lived a life of doing good to others, and what a rich inheritance he had on the other side; the other man had been rich in worldly goods but poor in deeds that brought rewards in heaven, and was indeed unhappy there. She continued, 'Your time hasn't come yet, so spend the rest of your time preparing yourself for the life hereafter.' Smith asked her where his father (John Joshua Tanner, who had died in 1896) was, and was told that he was on a mission. As his mother and sister left, their arms went up to the picture of his father which hung on the wall of the room."

           b. 1 Oct 1840 at Montrose, Iowa and
           died 26 Jan 1916 at Payson, Utah, at the age of 75.
	   He married Emily RALPHS in 1871, settled in Payson
	   and had 9 children.
	   "Marcus" or "Mark" Tanner, as he was called, also worked
	   in the freighting business between California and Utah,
	   fought in the Black Hawk War, and was the night watchman
	   for Payson.
	   It is said that he had great faith and trust in his
	   Heavenly Father.  In early 1889, after the birth of his
	   eighth child, a premature baby who had to be fed with a
	   medicine dropper, he came in from chores and sat down
	   near where the Relief Society sisters were trying to
	   feed the baby, when he heard a voice say to him,
	   "If you will give that child an injection, she will be
	   spared and you will raise her."
	   Father told the Relief Society sisters, Jane Wightman
	   and Alta Davis, who were present, what the voice had
	   told him, but they said, "It can't be done, she is too
	   little."  Father said, "It can be done; if you won't
	   do it I will get someone who will.  That child is not
	   going back there and say she was neglected here."
	   Jane went and got an ear syringe and did what the voice
	   had said to do, and the baby's life was spared and she
	   lived to be over 90 years old and raised a good family.
           b. 20 Jan 1843 at Montrose, Iowa and
	   died 5 Sep 1908 at Fremont, Utah, at the age of 65.
	   He married Mary Emily GRIGG in 1870; they lived in
	   Payson and Fremont, Utah and had five sons.
	   Their children were all born in Payson.
	   Then in 1883 Edward Orlando and his family were called
	   to go to Wayne County, Utah to help settle that area.
	   They started a farm in Fremont, and worked very hard
	   raising all kinds of crops and livestock.
	   "Edward Orlando was a very religious man.  He never
	   drank coffee, but used a parched wheat drink for a
	   warm drink.  Regardless of what work needed to be done,
	   he went to church on Sunday.  He was a very kind and
	   gentle man, and he loved people ... He was also gentle
	   with all of his animals."
           b. 12 Mar 1845 at Montrose, Iowa and
	   died 22 Nov 1847 at Winter Quarters, Nebraska at age two
           b. 10 Mar 1847 at Winter Quarters, Nebraska and
           died 14 Sep 1914 at Payson, Utah, at age 67.
	   He married Mary Melissa COLVIN in 1869,
	   settled in Payson and had ten children.
	   He was in the Black Hawk War as a Cavalryman in
	   Captain Conner's company.
	   In 1868 he was sent by Church leaders to help bring
	   groups of Saints from the Missouri River across the
	   plains.  In 1885 he was called on a mission to England.
	   Of their home in Payson, John Henry and Mary Melissa
	   Tanner's daughter Anna wrote, "Mother had flowers which
	   came from Uncle David Lant's flower garden.  The
	   Peteetneet Creek ran through their grounds, and the
	   first settlers of Payson had camped by this creek right
	   where our home stood ...
	   Father was a jolly man and always had a good word for
	   everyone.  He was religious and always taught his
	   children to be honest and obedient ... I never remember
	   my father being cross or unsympathetic.  He was always
	   very patient and looked on the bright side of life."
      7. ELSIE TANNER (twin),
           b. 22 Sep 1849 at Kanesville, Iowa and
	   died 6 Aug 1888 at Payson, Utah, at the age of 38;
      8. EDWIN TANNER (twin),
           b. 22 Sep 1849 at Kanesville, Iowa and died at birth;
           b. 4 Jan. 1853 at South Cottonwood, Utah and
	   died at birth.

Apparently John Joshua Tanner had been called to enter plural marriage during the Nauvoo period; both of his wives were endowed with him in the Nauvoo temple on 30 Dec 1845. His second wife's name was Nancy Ferguson, but virtually nothing is known about her. John Joshua later married three more plural wives after coming to the Salt Lake Valley.

According to the book JOHN JOSHUA TANNER FAMILY, "Along with his father John Tanner and brother Sidney, John Joshua Tanner had been appointed as one of the compassionate bishops whose duty it was to help those in need (after they left Nauvoo). This appointment seems not to have had anything to do with the presidency of a ward, but Brigham had said that if a man was willing to give all he had for the Lord to use as He wished, he was worthy to be a bishop. John Joshua Tanner was such a man." After they reached Winter Quarters, John Joshua Tanner was asked to stay there for five years and assist others of the Saints on their way west. The Tanner family opened up a farm of 1200 acres and planted wheat and raised cattle, oxen, and horses to supply immigrants on their way west. They were also put in charge of all of the Church cattle and oxen for three years (beginning at the time the Saints first reached Winter Quarters in 1846, the Tanners herded all the stock for the whole "camp of Israel," at the herd grounds north of Winter Quarters, known as "the Rushes").

Three of the Tanner children were born while the Tanners lived at the Missouri River. They were at Winter Quarters (now Florence, Nebraska) from August 1846 until June of 1848. Here John Henry Tanner was born, and Cynthia Maria Tanner (age two) died. After Brigham Young and most of the Saints departed from Winter Quarters in June and July 1848, the camp was abandoned, and those who remained at the river moved to Kanesville (now Council Bluffs, Iowa) on the east side. This included John Joshua and Rebecca, who continued their compassionate work among the "green" arrivals for three additional years. John J. with "Rebeckah" and Lydia Jane are listed as members in Pottawattamie County, Iowa Church Records. Elsie Tanner and her twin brother Edwin were born while the family lived here at Kanesville, on 22 Sep 1849; but Edwin died at birth.

In 1851, when the Church was phasing out the Iowa camps, the Tanner family came on across the plains in a covered wagon with Isaac Allred's Fifty. According to the Journal History of the Church, the Isaac Allred Fifty left Kanesville on about June 10, 1851, was turned back due to Indian trouble, and left again on June 29.

They arrived in Great Salt Lake City on October 2, 1851. At that time the family consisted of John Joshua, his wife Rebecca, and six children:

    LYDIA JANE (nearly 15),
    JOHN HENRY (4), and
    ELSIE (2)

They settled at South Cottonwood (now Murray), Salt Lake County, where some of John Joshua's brothers already had farms established. John Joshua and Rebecca continued to reside there for the rest of their lives.

When Elsie was only four and a half, she had the sad experience of losing her mother, Rebecca. Not much has been found which would tell us more about Rebecca or her personality. Apparently she was quite self-effacing, and during her life she worked tirelessly for her family's happiness and comfort, and this occupied all of her time. A letter written by her mother to Rebecca's sister Rachel (Nathan Tanner's wife), pleading with her to get Rebecca to please write something home, indicates she had neglected to keep in as close contact as she should with her parents (who had stayed in Kirtland). One granddaughter related that she had understood that Rebecca would never have her picture taken. Apparently Elsie Tanner was a lot like her mother, because unfortunately we have no picture of her either.

John Joshua Tanner remarried soon after Rebecca's death, to Mary Ann Neyman (Nickerson), widow of Levi Stillman Nickerson, who had four young children. In 1857, John Joshua also married two young plural wives, Mahaleth Jane Chase (who was 16 at the time) and Nancy Augusta Ferguson (age 14 at the time), who became the mothers of thirteen more of John Joshua's children. (During this time, all in the Church who were of marriagable age had been counseled to enter into marriage as soon as possible with the most suitable partner they could find, apparently to counteract the problem of many persons remaining single too long and getting into trouble, or else marrying out of the Church since there had been a great influx of people traveling through the territory to California.

It seems that many of the Saints, in their zeal, carried the leaders' counsel too far. As a consequence, many unsuitable marriages were made, and many girls who were only 13 or 14 were married to much older men in plural marriage. The husbands were counseled to "wait upon the desires of their wives," and to court them -- even though they were already sealed they had to win their wives' love. Many of these marriages were not consummated until many years later, when the girls became old enough to decide that they loved the man and desired him for a husband. Many other of these marriages were later dissolved, if the girl decided she did not desire the man for a husband after all).

Children of John Joshua and Jane Chase Tanner:

           b. 14 Dec. 1859 (never married);
           b. 8 Feb. 1866 (never married);
      12.MAHALETH ABIAH TANNER ("Aunt Haley")
           b. 30 Mar. 1867 and died 15 Feb 1933 at the age of 65.
           Married Thomas BEARD.
	   They had 10 children, and lived in Coalville
	   where her husband had opened the first coal mine.
	   He also served a mission to England, and was later
	   called by church leaders to beautify the area of
	   Coalville by growing flowers and vegetables; he became
	   an expert landscape gardener and beautified many homes
	   and gardens and the Summit County Stake House.

Children of John Joshua and Nancy Augusta Ferguson Tanner (this Nancy Ferguson was much younger than, and was apparently the niece of, the other Nancy Ferguson, whom John Joshua had been sealed to in the Nauvoo Temple in 1846):

           b. 13 Dec. 1860 and died 21 Feb 1935
           at Grant, Idaho, at the age of 74.
    	   Married William Henry PINNOCK, had 8 children.
           William Henry PINNOCK, brother of Henry Hugh Pinnock,
	   came to Salt Lake from England with his family when
	   he was 6 years old.  His father was superintendent of
	   the Temple Block for 14 years during construction of
	   the Salt Lake Temple.  William was trained as a stone
	   mason and worked on the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
	   Soon after their marriage they took up a homestead in
	   Idaho, two miles west of Rigby.  Later they moved to
	   Eagle Rock (later called Idaho Falls), where he worked
	   as a stone mason, also as a miner and clerk in a store.
	   They took up another homestead in Grant, Idaho in 1890,
	   where William died in 1910, and ALMIRA continued to
	   live there until her death.
           b. 19 Jan 1863 and died 21 Dec 1937 in Escondido,
	   California, at the age of 74.
           Married Emily Ella HALL, had 7 children.
	   Soon after their marriage they moved to Idaho in
	   a covered wagon together with his sister Almira and
	   her husband William H. Pinnock, and also took up a
	   homestead near Rigby.  Isaac also raised sheep, and
	   was in the real estate business and active in civic
	   affairs.  They moved to California around 1918, and
	   had a ranch in Valley Center, about 15 miles from
	   Escondido, where they lived until their deaths.  He
	   was foreman of the San Diego County Road Department.
           b. 8 Dec. 1864 and died 29 Apr 1937
	   in Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the age of 72.
    	   Married Harriet Mary SULLIVAN, had 4 children.
	   He had a farm near Rigby, Idaho and raised bees.
	   His wife died early in their marriage, and his
	   sister, Almira Tanner Pinnock, helped raise his
	   children. He spent much time alone taking care of
	   his bees and farm.
           b. 21 Oct. 1866 and died 28 Apr 1930
	   in Fullerton, California, at the age of 63.
    	   Married Daniel Hammer Adams, had 9 children.
	   Rebecca and Daniel met when she came to Idaho to
	   visit her older brother and sister who were
	   homesteading there.  They took up a homestead near
	   Rigby also, where all of their children were born.
	   They moved to California around 1920 and lived there
	   until their deaths.
           b. 22 Feb. 1869 and died 27 Jan 1870
	   at South Cottonwood, Utah
           b. 22 Nov. 1872 and died 25 Feb 1958
	   at San Leandro, California at the age of 85.
    	   Married Madie Helena KNUDSEN, had 9 children.
	   As a boy he helped his older brothers and his father
	   haul wheat to the Knudsen Flour Mill at the foot of
	   Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Here he met the miller's
	   daughter Madie, when she was 6 and he was 10.
	   He said that some day he would marry her.
	   They married when he was 22 and she was 19, and made
	   their home in South Cottonwood.
	   He had a ten acre ranch with a few cows and was a
	   farmer.  He also worked several years at the Murray
	   Smelter; later he raised chickens and sold eggs and
	   milk.  In 1944 he and his wife retired to California
	   and lived there until their deaths.
           b. 17 July 1876 and died 25 June 1941
	   at Murray, Utah, at the age of 64.
    	   Married Charles Henry RINGROSE, had 5 children.
	   They lived in South Cottonwood and Murray.
	   Charles worked at the Murray Smelter until he retired,
	   and was on the Murray City Volunteer Fire Department.
	   Ina helped the sick, and helped in the delivery of
	   many babies; her daughter wrote that "Mamma worked
	   under every doctor that came to Murray ...
	   the mothers-to-be would tell her, 'I won't worry
	   about it if I know you will be with me.'
	   She had grown up riding horses and taking her place
	   with the boys riding herd on the horses and cattle ...
	   she never did any housework until she was full grown
	   and they fenced the place in.  Everyone that had a
	   sick horse or cow would bring them to her father to
	   take care of them, and she helped him all the time.
	   She would do everything he told her to do, and how
	   happy they both were when the horse or cow was okay
	   again.  This stayed with her all her life -- she was
	   always helping people who were sick.  She was also a
	   lover of horses and dogs -- a family trait."
	   Both she and her husband were well-known in the
	   community and loved by all who knew them.
           b. 3 July 1878 and died 2 Feb 1936
	   in Salt Lake City at the age of 57.
    	   Married Rose Ann ATKINSON, had 4 children.
	   They built a home in South Cottonwood, where they
	   lived until their deaths.  They had about five acres
	   of land on what became Tanner Lane (at present-day
	   1810 E. 6400 S. -- now a development called
	   "Cottonwood Cove at Tanner Lane"), where Clarence
	   farmed and raised chickens and other animals.
	   He also worked at the Murray Smelter, and owned a
	   fish hatchery.
           b. 2 May 1882 and died 22 Feb 1937
	   at Neenoch, California at the age of 54.
    	   Married Bertram Luther GOOKINS, had 5 children.
	   They lived in Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and
	   Neenoch, California.
	   Bertram had a grocery store and also worked for
	   the U.S. Government, delivering mail.
           b. 8 June 1887 and died 14 Aug 1887.

John Joshua Tanner died on 9 Sep 1896 at South Cottonwood, at the age of 84, and is buried in the Murray (previously called South Cottonwood) Cemetery on Vine Street. It is uncertain where his wife Rebecca is buried, since the South Cottonwood Cemetery was not started until the 1870's, and she died in 1854. The Salt Lake Cemetery has no record of her being buried there in the Tanner family plot, where father John Tanner and Nathan and his wife Rachel Winter Smith Tanner (Rebecca's sister) and many of their family are buried. Perhaps she was also buried there and the record of the burial was lost, or perhaps she was buried at the Fort Union Cemetery, which was started in the 1850's. (About fifty burials there are unaccounted for.)

Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

Top of Page

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra Shuler Bray