John Edward Metcalf, Sr. History

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By Buelah Nielson Christensen, January 1958

[these kinds of clarifications added by Vauna Marie Green, 1995]


John Edward Metcalf Sr. came to Utah with Claudius Spencer’s Company in 1853.

 John Edward Metcalf was born July 13, 1812 in Hull, Yorkshire, England. [He was the eldest of two sons and one daughter born to Thomas and Jane Gill Metcalf.  The daughter, a baby named Ann, died in infancy during March of 1824, and his mother died weeks later.  John Edward was eleven years old at the time of his mother’s death.  His father later remarried a widow by the name of Ann Brown Davis.]

 John Edward Metcalf married Mary Waslin December 23, 1832. [They married in the Chapel at Sculcoates, which is a suburb or subdivision in Hull.  The Sculcoates parish church is a special place for the Metcalf family---they weren’t normally members of that parish but his parents had married there, as did his grandmother and great grandparents.  John Edward was twenty years old at the time of his marriage; Mary Waslin was twenty-two.]

 Grandfather was a wonderful carpenter and traveled to many parts of Europe doing carpenter work before he came to America.  In 1843 he had taken his family to Belfast, Ireland to do some carpentering.  While there my grandfather Anthony was born to them.

 Grandfather and grandmother joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in [October] 1849 and his house was always open to the missionary Elders.  [Indeed, after his emigration he served a mission himself, back in Hull where he had opened his own doors to the missionaries.  There is no account of the Metcalf family’s conversion, but a look at some historical data can help paint the picture of their lives at the time of their conversion.  The Metcalf family were members of the Church of England, but don’t appear to have been particularly active.  This can be seen from the fact that their children were christened, but they tended to neglect to do it until several years after their births.  The next hint of the family’s disillusionment with the Church of England might be in 1840 when John Edward’s brother George Thomas marries his second wife after his first wife’s death.   The marriage is performed, not by the clergy of the church of England, but in an Independent chapel in Hull.  Brother George Thomas didn’t live long enough to learn about the “Mormons”: both he and his 2nd wife died in 1842, leaving an orphaned four-year-old son (George Thomas, Jr., who eventually traveled with his uncle to Utah.)  I have thought that perhaps the Melcalfs were first introduced to the church during the time they lived in London as they seem to have been baptized shortly after their return to Hull.  That is conjecture.  Shortly after the Metcalfs joined the church, John Edward’s aunt Elizabeth Gill Simpson was also baptized (in 1852).  She never emigrated and died in Hull in 1874.]

 He emigrated to Utah with his family in 1853, crossing the ocean in the ship Ellen Maria.  They crossed the plains in Claudius Spencer’s Company and arrived in Salt Lake City in the latter part of September.

 The family lived in the Fourth Ward in Salt Lake City until 1856, when they moved to Springville, where they resided until Grandfather was called to go to the southern part of Utah---St. George---in the Fall of 1862.  While living in Springville he did carpenter work on the old White Meeting house.

 In the fall of 1862 he took part of his family and went to St. George.  Later he was released by President George A. Smith to go to Fayette to build and operate a grist mill.

 The following is from the early History of Fayette:

 “The Metcalfs camped about three-fourths of a mile east of the other settlers, at the sight where they decided to build the mill.  Grandfather had brought all his provision in an extra wagon; he also brought a pick, a shovel, an axe, a steel bar, two augers, a hammer, a chisel; also faith, ambition and perseverance.  They soon hauled rock from the nearby hills and built their dugout and mill house.  The burrs they chiseled and fashioned from some granite boulders they found in the Cedar Ridge east of the ‘Painted rocks,’ about twelve miles north of Warm Creek.  They used wagon tires to held the section of the burrs together.

 “The ditch from the spring to the mill had been dug by hand with pick and shovel, and had been tested.  The water ran through it.  The wooden water wheel had been assembled and set in place, and aside from leaking a lot. It worked.  The burrs had been moved into place and everything was ready for the test.

 “Grandma Metcalf had helped her husband and the boys, but now the water was turned into the flume to pour over the wheel, she stepped back a few steps and stood with uncovered head and arms folded.  The water wheel was soon in motion, but nothing happened with the burrs.  Grandpa hurried into the cellar and adjusted the rawhide belt that transferred the power from the water wheel shaft to the burr shaft.  Then slowly, the burr commenced to turn just a little, and was soon scraping its face against its mate stone burr.

 “One of the children called out, ‘Maw it’s turning, it works, Maw, the mill works!’ Grandma turned and walked slowly toward the dugout, and with head bowed she said something, and what she said, only God, the angels, and she knew.”

 In 1864 Grandfather was called to be Branch President of the Fayette Branch of the church.  He filled a mission to England from 1877 to 1879.  Grandfather was a healthy, active man, filling many responsible positions in the Church. [Says granddaughter Louisa, “He was an awfully religious man.  He really believed the gospel.  Do always as good as your great grandpa . . . then you’d be good boys.]

 In the summer of 1882 he met with a severe accident while driving a buggy to Gunnison.  Going down a hillside the buggy tipped over throwing Grandfather,  Grandmother, and a granddaughter who was with them to the ground.  Grandpa received a serious injury to his head, causing him to lose his eyesight.  To be blind after such an active life was a severe handicap and something that was very hard to live with.  Five years later, February 4, 1997, he died of diabetes at the home of his daughter Jane Ann Bown, in Fayette.  His wife had died three years earlier.

 Grandfather had twelve children.  At the time of his death he had fifty grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.

 He lived and died a faithful Saint and his funeral was held February 8, 1887 and was largely attended by his relatives and friends from Fayette and Gunnison.


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