Monday, May 17, 2010

John Ellison Maxfield (1801-1875)

John Ellison Maxfield was born at Youton, Yorkshire, England, in the Parish of Alne, March 21, 1801. He was the sixth of eleven children born to John Maxfield and Hannah Appleton. His middle name, Ellison, was a namesake of one of his uncles.
About 1818 John, together with his parents and several siblings, set sail from Hull, Yorkshire, England, bound for Australia. The ship in which they were sailing wrecked at sea. A passing freighter rescued the passengers and brought them to Canada. The Maxfields settled in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
John Ellison married Sarah Elizabeth Baker on March 26, 1827. They were the parents of eleven children, including my great, great grandfather, Richard Dunwell Maxfield. Sarah was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada in May 10, 1811, to Jesse Baker and Sarah Shureman.
John and Sarah had ten children born to them in Canada. Their names are Robert Quorton, Richard Dunwell, Elijah Hiett, Jesse, James Appleton, William Wellener, John Ellis, Sarah Elizaeth, Joseph Smith and Quincy Benjamin.
About the year 1844, two Mormon Elders from Nova Scotia came to PEI where they baptized fifteen people. John Ellison and probably other members of the families attended a meeting at which these two Elders spoke. The tradition is that upon his return home, John called his family around him and said "I have just heard what I have been looking for all my life," and expressed a desire to join the church and go to Salt Lake Valley. They were baptized, along with some members of Richard's and Williams' families.
John and Elizabeth owned a sawmill, engaged in ship building, owned a six hundred acre farm, and also raised thoroughbred horses.
The families had planned to build a ship in which to sail to Chicago (Fort Deerborn at that time), but instead chartered a ship and left Prince Edward Island in June, 1850. John and Elizabeth left their large farm unsold with instructions to their attorney to sell it and forward them the money. They never heard from their attorney again. The rest of the property was disposed of with the exception of a horse. The morning they were to sail, the horse was brought around to the front of the Inn and John asked for a bid. He got the highest bid from a minister who bought it.
They arrived in Chicago by sailing up the St. Lawrence River as far as they could go, then up one of the smaller rivers to the Great Lakes. They then sailed across Lake Michigan to Chicago. They would have had to travel overland from Chicago to Council Bluffs, being ferried across the Mississippi River on their way. The family reached Council Bluffs on July 9, 1850 and must have decided to cross the Missouri River and go over to Winter Quarters that same day. Jesse, their fifteen year old son, was drowned in the river as they were being ferried across. He had been sent to get something for his baby brother who was sick; he slipped off a plank into the swift running water and was never seen again.
Jesse's year-old baby brother, Benjamin, died a few days later on July 15. Sarah was heartsick.
The family arrived in Winter Quarters three weeks after the last company of Saints had left for the valley and were advised to stay there until spring. In the meantime, they prepared for the rest of their journey by purchasing food, oxen, cows, wagons and horses.
One month after their arrival in Council Bluffs they were saddened by the death of their uncle and brother, William Maxfield, who left a widow and five small children.
According to family tradition, John and Elizabeth brought with them a can of gold pieces; this they used in outfitting their family for the journey and were able to assist some of the less fortunate Saints. Sarah had brought with her exquisite laces, dimities, etc. that she had purchased in Canada to be made into baby clothing and other items when they reached their destination.
John and Sara left council Bluffs with their eight children and a nephew, John Ellis Maxfield, a 15 year old son of Richard Maxfield and Eliza J. Parrot, on May 1, 1851.
Sara Ann Picket, widow of William, and her five children remained in Council Bluffs, as did Richard and Eliza and the rest of their family. There was sickness in the family at the time and Richard and his thirteen year old son died in October of that year.
John Ellison and his family and nephew were part of the Abraham Day Company.
On the Journey to Salt Lake at Hams Fork near Sweetwater, Wyoming, on September 1, 1851, Elizabeth gave birth to her eleventh child whom she christened Henry Adheimer Maxfield.
The Maxfield's home in the Salt Lake Valley was near the Jordon River in what was then known as "Cottonwood" and was located on 150 acres.
John and Sara were sealed in the Temple, November 1855 by President Brigham Young. Although he lived some miles from it, John labored on the Temple until the time of his death. John was reserved in disposition and independent by nature, preferring to give assistance rather than to receive it. His grandson, Hiett, recalled that "Grandfather" was a kindly, dignified "English Gentleman". He died February 1, 1875. Elizabeth lived until March 3, 1894.


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