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James Peterson or Sutton 1846-1837 / Elizabeth Abbit (Abbott) 1753-1841
John Amberson Thompson  1791-1881 / Ruth E. Peterson 1796-1839
Harmon Bogardus Groesbeck 1787-1838 / Maria Bovee 1786-1873
Nicholas Groesbeck 1819-1884 / Elizabeth Thompson 1820-1883
Josephine Groesbeck 1857-1948, wife of John Henry Smith
Photograph of Maria Bovee
Photographs of Nicholas Groesbeck and Elizabeth Thompson Photographs
Photograph of Josephine Groesbeck
James Peterson or Sutton history, Sutton and Abbott families
Harmon Bogardus Groesbeck History
Nicholas Groesbeck History
Josephine Groesbeck History
Maria Bovee Histories
Elizabeth Thompson History
Maria Bovee 1786-1873
Nicholas Groesbeck 1819-1884 and Elizabeth Thompson 1820-1883
Josephine Groesbeck 1857-1948
 August 1990

The name of James Peterson has always been at the end of the pedigree. Previous research in New Jersey records where he was reportedly from yielded no new information.

On a recent visit to Salt Lake, publications of various genealogies of families of Crawford Co., Pennsylvania were searched.  The following is what was found:

Ezra Peterson (son of James Sutton, alias Peterson, and Elizabeth Abbott)    [from Vol VIII No.2 pg 73]

Ezra Peterson, son of James Sutton (alias Peterson) and Elizabeth (Abbott) Peterson  [from Vol I No.1 pg 44]

From Vol I No.2 pg 84 was a footnote reference to an article by Harry Hollingsworth in "The American Genealogist" entitled "James Peterson, Sr., Alias James Sutton of Crawford County, Pennsylvania."

With this information, a previously searched county history of Salem Co., New Jersey, proved to have a family listing of Abdon Abbit (Abbott) showing a daughter Elizabeth, born in the 1750's who married James Sutton.  Subsequent searches for information on the Sutton family verified this as our Elizabeth Abbott.

Much additional information on the spouses of the children of James Peterson and Elizabeth Abbott was also found in the various county histories and genealogical magazines searched.  This information has been added to the family group sheet.

An additional five page typescript on the "Sutton Families of Southern New Jersey Counties" by Henry (Harry) Hollingsworth (written in 1964) was also found.

I will try to summarize the information, noting the differences.

James Peterson or Sutton was the son of Thomas Coates [Coate, Cotes] Sutton.  He is traditionally believed to have been born near old Red Bank, Gloucester Co., New Jersey, in 1746.  His father and four brothers were Loyalists during the American Revolution, although he and two of his brothers who joined the British forces deserted after several months of service, making them 'men without a country.'  One brother (Jacob) died the day after James' desertion, but no cause is known for his death.  Their father spent a month in prison (probably in his 60s) for his loyalist support.

Thomas Coats Sutton is most likely the son ("American Genealogist" article says grandson) of John Sutton and Parnell(a).  Their son Thomas is named in both of their wills; as under age (21) in John's in 1722, but still living when his mother (then Parnella SEEDS) died in 1743.  John Sutton was a tailor who died in Frankford, Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania. Parnella died in Oxford, Philadelphia Co.

No direct proof of this relationship can be offered, only the following circumstantial evidence:

1.     Supposed birthplace of James Sutton (Peterson) is right across the border from Philadelphia Co.   
2.     Unusual name of daughter of Thomas Coates Sutton, recorded as Penel or Pennel.   
3.     Granddaughter of Thomas Coates Sutton, only child of Joseph Sutton and his wife Margaret Tanver, named Parnell.

By 1784 James Sutton (then using the name Peterson) had settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania, moving later to Greenwood twp, Crawford Co., Pennsylvania.  His obituary says he had 13 children, but only 12 are known by name. [See family group sheet.]

To complicate the story, it appears that James Sutton or Peterson had three nephews, sons of his brother Thomas1, who also settled in Crawford Co., but, at least for a time, used the surname Abbott, which was the maiden name of their mother, Edith Abit, daughter of Benjamin Abit and Hannah Burroughs.  Two of the brothers (James and Abraham) eventually returned to using the name Sutton; Thomas2 however, continued to use the name Abbott.

James Sutton or Peterson also appears to have another brother, John, who settled in Crawford Co., but who always used the surname Sutton.  So Thomas Coates Sutton had two sons and three grandsons living in Crawford Co., Pennsylvania - using the surnames Sutton, Peterson, and Abbott!

Mr. Hollingsworth states in his articles that Abdon2 Abit, father of Elizabeth who married James Sutton or Peterson, was the son of Abdon1 and Martha Abit.  However, Salem County genealogies ["Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey," Vol 20 pgs 74-81] say he might be the son of Joseph Abit.  (Both Abdon1 and Joseph were sons of James Abit of Long Island, Immigrant.)  As far as I can find at this point, there is no proof of either lineage.  Abdon2 is bondsman with Martha after the death of her husband in 1756, but he is not named in her will in 1759.  All the children named in her will have their christenings recorded in Church records of Long Island and Pittsgrove, Salem, NJ.  But an Abdon Abit is not among those recorded.  Again, the unusual name makes his relationship as son or nephew very likely, but no proof of either has been found.

 Harmon Bogardus Groesbeck and Mary Bovee

[From Our Groesbeck Ancestors in America, by Nicholas G. Morgan, Sr., 1963.]

Harmon Bogardus Groesbeck, named for his grandmother’s people, was born January 29, 1787 and baptized at Schaghticoke, New York, and died August 25, 1828 at or in Rensselaer County. He married Mary (or Marie or Polly) Bovee some time between 1805 and 18910. She was born 22 Sep 1786 at Amsterdam in Montgomery County, New York and died in Salt Lake City, Utah on 29 August 1873. Mary Bovee was the descendant of an early French family who came into New Jersey and New York and settled.
     Harmon Bogardus Groesbeck was quite a young man when he died being only 41 years of age when he passed away in 1828. His wife Mary lived to the age of 87. They were the parents of Sarah, David, Hannah, Maria, Cornelius, Nicholas H., James, and Stephen. [Family group sheet has a Jacob and a James, which are probably the same person.]
     Of these children, Nicholas H. and Cornelius removed to Sangamon County, Illinois and later Nicholas H. moved westward to Utah. Mary Bovee Groesbeck remained in New York for several years before joining her family in the West and settling in Salt Lake City, Utah where she lived the rest of her hlife and died and is buried there in the John Morgan (her son-in-law) lot in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.


[Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah, vol 4 p 256.]

Prominent and successful in business was Nicholas Groesbeck, of Salt Lake City; a native of Rensselaer County, New York, born September 5, 1819, and a resident of Utah from the year 1856 to the day of his death, June 29, 1884. His parents, Harmon and Mary Bovee Groesbeck, were farm folk, energetic and industrious, striving with every faculty to gain a livelihood and educate their children. They lived in Rensselaer County until Nicholas was six years old, when they moved to Chataqua County, and subsequently to Genesee County, where the father died when the son was about nine years of age. He was a very sickly child and was not expected to live from week to week, which fact accounts for the little schooling he received—only about nine months in all—during the winters of three years.

When Nicholas was twenty, he removed with his mother and the family to Springfield, Illinois, arriving there in September, 1839. Up to this time he had been an invalid, but now his health improved, and he was able to do manual labor. A natural trader, possessing excellent judgment, which almost invariably led him to the safe side of a bargain, he dealt in hay, wood, coal, etc., and with cash thus obtained purchased at a discount promissory notes upon which he could realize later. He labored and speculated in Springfield for seventeen years, and accumulated a fortune of fifteen to twenty thousand dollars, which made him a comparatively wealthy man for those times.

He had embraced Mormonism the year before he removed to Illinois, where he continued to reside until he emigrated to Utah. He had a good outfit, consisting of five wagons, six yoke of oxen, a carriage, five horses, and five Durham cows. The wagons were loaded with household goods and merchandise. He had been a married man since March 25, 1841, when he wedded Miss Elizabeth Thompson, who became the mother of his nine children. He emigrated two families in addition to his own. The Groesbecks left Springfield on the 12th of May, Winter Quarters on the 3rd of July, and arrived at Salt Lake City on the 2nd of October. They were in John Banks’ company of fifty wagons, ten of which were in charge of Mr. Groesbeck. Among the incidents of the journey was a stampede on July 24th, in which a boy named Burton was killed. On the 28th they sighted the first buffalo, and the next day came upon thousands of them —“north, south and west, nothing but a heaving mass of buffalo;” on the 30th, one of Mr. Groesbeck’s teamsters, Solomon Call, was accidentally shot and killed.

Early in 1857 Nicholas Groesbeck was sent east as an agent of the Y. X. [Young Express] Company, to transact business in St. Louis, Chicago, New York and other cities, and forward the mails from Independence, Missouri, to Salt Lake City. A. O. Smoot and others were also sent upon similar errands. The mails being refused at Independence— the government having determined to make war upon Utah—Messrs. Groesbeck and Smoot decided to break up the various mail stations founded by the home company and move the outfits westward. Mayor Smoot, with Judson Stoddard and others, undertook this task, carrying the war news to Utah, while Mr. Groesbeck remained on the frontier long enough to load up and bring on a train of merchandise owned by the Church, President Young, himself, and other parties. Among the goods was a thousand pounds of powder, liable with the rest of the merchandise to confiscation by the United States Army, then about starting west. General Johnston refused Mr. Groesbeck a pass, at the same time telling him that as soon as the rumor was verified, that the government supply trains sent on ahead had been burned by the Mormons near Green River, he would make him and his men prisoners and confiscate the teams, wagons, and merchandise. Knowing it to be a fact that the trains and supplies had been burned, Mr. Groesbeck pushed on rapidly until he came to the Platte bridge, where he made a conditional sale of everything excepting his mules, to a man named Mishaw, who owned the trading post at that point, taking his receipt and agreement to deliver merchandise, wagons and all, when called for, upon payment of storage for the same. He then bought riding and pack saddles, and he and his men, mounting the mules, struck into the mountains, leaving the old emigrant road fifty or seventy-five miles to the north, and coming out upon Green river just below the point where the Union Pacific railroad now crosses it. At Fort Bridger he met a detachment of the Utah militia, who were there to watch the movements of the advancing army. He was gladly greeted by them, as it was supposed he had been captured by the government troops. Arriving home, Mr. Groesbeck and his friends were heartily welcomed by President Young and his associates, and their faithful services commended. In May, 1858, he went back to the Platte bridge, where Mr. Mishaw returned to him his merchandise, wagons, etc., all in good condition, and with these he arrived once more in safety at Salt Lake City.

At the time of “the move” the Groesbecks went to Springville, where the head of the family established a store, which, after running it successfully for six years, he sold to his eldest son, Nicholas H. Groesbeck, and then turned his attention to the improvement of his property in Salt Lake City. He had purchased in the fall of 1858 the corner upon which the Wasatch block, including the Kenyon hotel, now stands. Everything he turned to prospered. His family residence was in the Seventeenth ward, near the northern terminus of West Temple street.

In 1867-8 he fulfilled a mission to Great Britain, laboring while abroad in the Nottingham conference. His office in the Church was that of a Seventy, to which he had been ordained at Nauvoo, Illinois. He was connected with the Fifty-fourth quorum. Before or after his mission to England he fulfilled one to the Eastern states.

In 1869, the railroad having arrived, and the mines of Utah being reopened, Mr. Groesbeck turned his attention to mining. With his three eldest sons—Nicholas, William, and John—and four other men, he began operations in Little Cottonwood canyon, where they worked with no apparent success until the winter of 1870-71, when they opened up the great Flagstaff mine, which was sold by him in London for half a million dollars. In 1872 he built the Groesbeck block, and in 1873-4 about two-thirds of the Wasatch block, including the main entrance and north wing. The building remained in that condition until 1881, when he built the south wing, thus completing the structure according to the architect’s design. He was largely interested in the development of coal and iron mines in Summit and Iron counties. In the Great Western Iron company he held the office of a director. Everything that tended to build up and beautify Salt Lake City met with his hearty approval, and his pocket book was always open and his money ready for the promotion of the work. His wealth consisted mostly of real estate, mines, mercantile, and bank stock. He was a public-spirited, enterprising citizen, and his life was pure and exemplary. At one time he was a member of the city council.

Mr. Groesbeck’s greatest sorrow came when his wife died, December 28, 1883. He did not long remain to mourn her loss. It was only six months and one day later when he followed her across
the dark waters into the bright beyond. He died at his home, surrounded by his children, passing away in peace, firm in the religious faith which he had espoused when a youth of nineteen.

Treasures of Pioneer History, Vol 6, p 55.
Nicholas Harmon Groesbeck:
When I was eight years old my father [Nicholas Groesbeck] sold his home to a Mr. Phelps and built himself a new house where we lived until May 12, 1856. In the spring of 1855 a Mormon missionary by the name of James Case came to our house, and as father and mother had previously belonged to the Mormon Church, they made him welcome.  From the time of 1844 to 1855, Mother had opposed plural marriage and had investigated nearly every other religion, including spiritualism, but never could find anything to satisfy her. In the meantime she made it a matter of prayer and many times, along with her children, she would go into her room and there ask God to direct her in the right way, for she was sincerely seeking the salvation of herself and her children=s souls. So when Elder James Case came to her home and explained to her the principle of plural marriage in its true sense, she was thoroughly converted to it and in the latter part of May 1855 she and father were rebaptized, having previously been baptized into the Mormon Church. Elder Case taught them the principles of having their children baptized at eight years of age, and as myself and brother William were past eight years, they immediately had us baptized.

In the fall of 1855 my father and Uncle Cornelius Groesbeck were partners in cutting hay on the prairie, Uncle Cornelius doing the cutting and staying there a week at a time, mowing the hay with a scythe and raking it up into wind rows ready to load on the wagon; my father seeing to the selling of the hay in the city so that it could be delivered as soon as I should bring in a load in the evening, for I had to drive the team and wagon out, load up the hay and bring it back. One morning my brother John wanted to go with me for a load of hay and mother let him go, we taking our lunch with us to eat with Uncle Cornelius. When the hay was nearly loaded we sent John to start up the fire so that we could cook our beefsteak.

Just as he got the fire started, he laid the little handful of hay down that he held in his hand to put some kindling on it when suddenly there came a terrific gust of wind, which blew the fire into the dry grass, for it had neither been burned or mowed the year before. Although we worked like Trojans to put it out it was useless. It blew the flames across a stubble field and set fire to large stacks of wheat and oats, which contained about eleven hundred bushels of grain belonging to a man by the name of McGinnes. Both stacks were totally consumed. In about ten days Mr. McGinnes demanded $1100.00 as payment for his grain from father who refused to pay it, telling him that he had nothing to do with the burning of his grain and that it was an accident that had occurred with his brother and his sons, whereupon Mr. McGinnes employed one of the best lawyers in Springfield and entered suit against father, Uncle Cornelius, and myself. Father employed Abraham Lincoln as his lawyer.

The trial came off in October, lasting some two or three days. The jury brought in a verdict clearing father, but rendering judgment against Uncle Cornelius and myself for the amount. Uncle Cornelius not being worth more than the law allowed and myself being a minor, Mr. McGinnes could do nothing to collect the money. At this time father was preparing to emigrate to Utah. He had sold his home, had bought his cattle, horses, wagons and carriages, and was already to start on the morning of the 12th of May on his journey.

In those days there was a law in Illinois that if a person owed another any amount of money, and he was going to leave the state to make his home elsewhere, the man to whom he owed the money could stop him and imprison him if he did not pay it before he left. Mr. McGinnes took advantage of this law, for I was about to leave the country permanently, and as I drove the stock in, gone in the early morning for them, the marshal was standing ready to arrest me, and did so. I was taken to the Court House had a preliminary hearing, where it was agreed that the case should come up on the 15th inst.

In the meantime I was imprisoned in county jail for safe keeping. The hearing came upon the day appointed and I was remanded back to jail to work out the debt, law allowing me $1.50 for every day that I was confined and if I had stayed there it would have taken about five years to liquidate the debt and my board bill, Mr. McGinnes having to pay me while I was there. The fourth day of my confinement they brought Uncle Cornelius to the prison, but on Mr. McGinnes finding out that he would have to keep his family as well, on the third day of confinement he was released, leaving me there alone to work out the bill.

It was here that I first got my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having asked the Father in prayer in my cell in prison to show me how I would be freed from that place. I did this in humble simplicity, having faith that the Lord would hear my prayer, which he did, showing me that through compromise between my father and Mr. McGinnes that I should be liberated shortly. When I told mother this she said father would never compromise, for it was an unjust debt and that I would have to stay until I worked it out. I told her that such would not be the case, that father would compromise for the Lord had shown me in a dream that it would be so.

After I had been there nearly three weeks, father and Abraham Lincoln came on Sunday afternoon and told me that they did expect to make a compromise with Mr. McGinnes for about $300.00, which would liberate me and liquidate the entire indebtedness, thereby setting Uncle Cornelius as well as myself free of all incumbrances of that unfortunate fire. The next morning I was liberated.

The next morning, which was the 3rd of June, 1856, we started on our journey to Utah, father having sent all of his wagons and cattle to the starting place across the plains, which was old Winter Quarters or Florence, about six miles above Omaha on the Missouri River at which place we arrived, having spent a few days with relatives in Schuyler County, Illinois.

A few days after our arrival at Florence, Brother William Wardsworth and a few other Eiders arrived from Utah, who had been sent to organize our company and see that we were started out on our journey across the plains in good order, which they did. On July 3 father’s teams and a few others left Florence and pulled out some three or four miles, at which place we spent the fourth of July and had a very pleasant time.
We continued our journey without interruption until the morning of the 24th of July. Owing to the fact that we had to make a dry camp the night before, digging wells to get water enough for culinary purposes, we could give our stock but very little water. We had only got a fair start when two of our teams became unmanageable and ran away. In one of the wagons there was a little boy about eight or nine years of age, who was the son of a widow, by the name of Burton. He attempted to jump out of the wagon from the front end, but slipped and fell in front of the wheel, both the front and the hind wheel passed over his body killing him instantly.

About three o’clock that afternoon we came to what was then known as Prairie Creek and very unwisely camped on the north side of it. That night a very heavy rain occurred some few miles north of us and the next morning, the creek, which had been only a shallow streamlet, was a raging torrent, the water being some six or eight feet deep. We were, therefore, obliged to stay until evening when it got so low we could ford it. We had only got fairly across when there came another storm and it was well for us that we were on the south side of the creek, for it raised some five or six feet again in the night. The next day we continued our journey camping on the south side of Wood River that night.

On July 27th we saw our first buffalo. Some of the men of company took their guns and went out and killed two or three and brought in some of the meat, which we enjoyed, for it was the first meat we had had for some time. On the morning of the 28th we continued our journey and had traveled about two miles when we came to the foot of some sand hills which were literally covered with buffalo. Two of our horses became frightened and ran into the midst of them. Of course we expected that that would be the last them, but after we had traveled about half a mile, to our surprise and joy we saw the two horses in the middle of the road towards us. We caught them and got some of the company to ride them and help drive the loose herd which was always in the rear the train. On getting to the top of the hills and looking down the valley below, we there saw the sight of our lives, for as far as the eye could see west, north and south it was a heavy mass of galloping buffalo. When we got to the foot of the hill we were obliged to send men ahead of the train shooting blank cartridges to scare them so that we could progress. We had proceeded that way for perhaps an hour or so when there was a line of two coming from the north which broke through our train, and it was great difficulty that we got them turned so that our train could be reunited. We traveled this way until we came to a bend in the River where we stopped and camped for the night, turning our horses and cattle into the bend and guarding the north side, so that they could not get out during the night or the buffalo get in. It was a terrible night for all concerned for we were surrounded by those animals whose bellowing was like the roaring of the ocean. In the morning the captain of the train called a council of the other captains of the company, for we were in five different groups of ten wagons each. They concluded to lay over there that day, get some buffalo meat and jerk and dry it, which they did; but while were there another accident happened in which one of father’s teamsters lost his life by being shot accidentally through the thigh, hitting the large artery that passes through the leg, which caused him to bleed to death. His name was Solomon Hall. We buried him in the evening in a very deep grave to keep the wolves from scratching him up.

The next day we continued our journey, nothing of note happened for about ten days, when we came upon a village of about three thousand Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. They a toll of flour, bacon, sugar, tea, coffee, etc. We gave them all could spare and started on. We had only gone a short distance when they again formed a semi-circle and demanded more provisions. We then called for the principal chief and told him, through a man with us who could talk the Sioux language, that we had given all we could spare and he asked where we were going and we told him Salt Lake City and that we were Mormons. He then told his men to get up and let us pass which they did in a very sullen manner. We turned our teams to the south and went a few rods on the road and formed a corral with our wagons, then made a bargain with the Indians to herd our cattle and horses and bring them in the next morning at sun-up. They demanded some shirts and a few other things for their services, which we gave them when they brought the stock in the next morning as per agreement—not one hoof being missing. We did some trading with them and they let us pass on our way peacefully.

We continued our journey until we arrived west of Fort Laramie, where our company split up into five companies, each company going by itself. In the meantime we crossed the Platte River twice, the last time on the 2nd of September.

On the fourth of September we crossed the great alkali beds where we gathered enough crude soda to last us for years and camped that night at the first crossing of the Sweetwater River. About one half mile east of Independence Rock, which, as near as I can remember was about three hundred feet long and about one hundred feet high and about one hundred fifty feet wide, being the shape of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

That day was the warmest we had experienced on the road. The next morning when we awoke there was six inches of snow on the ground and about thirty head of our oxen had been chilled to death. Fortunately there were some Indian traders there who sold us what cattle we wanted at a very reasonable price. That afternoon we moved four miles up the river and camped in some cabins near Devil’s Gate, which is a crevice through solid rock about one hundred and fifty feet high and about thirty or forty feet wide. We traveled along quietly overtaking and being overtaken occasionally by some of the other tens of our company and frequently camping at the same campgrounds, where the young folks, to say nothing of the older people, always had a pleasant visit together.

About the tenth of September we crossed the Great Divide and camped that night at Pacific Springs on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. On the top of the divide we saw water coming from one spring and dividing, one part flowing toward the Atlantic Ocean and the other toward the Pacific. About eight o’clock that evening the first handcart company came up and camped there also. The next morning they passed us and we did not see them anymore.

There was nothing to mar our happiness from that point until we arrived in Salt Lake City on the second day of October, 1856. Snow fell that winter all over Salt Lake and Utah Valley to a depth of two feet on the level.

“Heart Throbs of the West,” Kate B. Carter, Vol 3., p 299     
In 1857 President Young called between two and three hundred families to colonize Dixie in 1861. Elders Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow were appointed to take charge of the mission and such men as Horace Eldredge, Jacob Gates, Henry Harriman, Nicholas Groesbeck, Angus M. And David H. Cannon, James G. Bleak, Anthony Ivins, Nathaniel V. Jones, Henry W. Naisbitt, Claudius V. Spencer, et al., were called and “expected to become permanent citizens of the Sunny South.” [Though as the above history shows, Nicholas Groesbeck returned to Salt Lake City.]

Treasures of Pioneer History, Vol 2, p 397.
The winter of 1861 ushered in a new superior epoch in dramatic affairs. Nicholas Groesbeck purchased the Camp Floyd Theatre, scenery and costumes, at the time the camp was abandoned. It was a frail structure which was taken down and transplanted by teams to Springville, reconstructed with adobe filling. The stage was unusually large, with a fine dancing surface. A splendid orchestra was formed, consisting of James Horton and Henry Walker, violinists; Fred Weight, cello; and Henry Clegg, dulcimer. Here theatricals and balls were held during its life until 1868 when a high wind made a wreck of it. It was here William C. Huntington first introduced and taught fancy dances. At this innovation upon the old Quadrille the older people objected to the “new-fangled” dances and tried to put a ban upon them, but as is usual the old folks were forced to yield to the young people and the fancy dances became the rage.

“Divorce among Mormon Polygamists: Extent and Explanations,” Eugene E. Campbell and Bruce L. Campbell; Pioneer Heritage Library, Family History Suite CD.

On December 15, 1858, George A. Smith called on the church president to make application for a divorce in behalf of Nicholas Groesbeck from his second wife. President Young said that when a man married a wife, he took her for better or worse and had no right to ill use her; a man that would mistreat a woman in order to get her to leave him would find himself alone in the worlds to come. He said he knew of no law to give a man in polygamy a divorce. He had told the brethren that if they would break the law, they should pay for it; but he did not want them to come to him for a divorce as it was not right. He then appealed to George A. Smith for confirmation of his position. Smith said, “President Young it is with you as it was with Moses. There is no law authorizing divorce, but through the hardness of the people you are obligated to permit it.”
Three days later Young said:
     It is not right for the brethren to divorce their wives the way they do. I am determined that if men don’t stop divorcing their wives, I shall stop sealing. Men shall not abuse the gifts of God and the privileges the way they are doing. Nobody can say that I have any interest in the matter,  for I charge nothing for sealings, but I do charge for divorcing. I want the brethren to stop divorcing their wives for it is not right.

Revolutionary War Pension Application.
BOVEE, NICHOLAS--Born about 1759. Date of death and location of grave not ascertained. Served as private in the New York state troops in the war of the Revolution. Was granted a pension in 1831 while residing in Chautauqua County, N. Y., and in the Pension List of 1840 is mentioned as residing with Ebenezer Baldwin in the town of Pomfret. Source; Soldiers of the American Revolution 1925
Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots BOVEE, Nicholas Pomfret Cem Pomfret, Chautauqua Co NY 65 Mrs. Mabel E. Roberts Towns. DAR ID Number: 164142 Born in Jasper, Ill. Wife of O. A. Towns. Descendant of Nicholas Bovee, as follows: 1. Zadok C. Roberts (1832-91) m. 1853 Nancey Ellen White (1836-1910). 2. Nathan E. Roberts (b. 1808) m. 1827 Mary Bovee (1809-83). 3. John Bovee (1788-1868) m. 1805 Phoebe Gardner (d. 1821). 4. Nicholas Bovee m. 1788 Sarah Jane Taylor. Nicholas Bovee served as private in Capt. Aaron Aorson's company, Col. Peter Gansevoort's New York regiment. He was born, 1756, in Mohawk Valley, N. Y.


Josephine Groesbeck Smith was born 13 October, 1857 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck, who came to Utah by wagon train in 1856.
     At four years of age Josephine attended Lucy Spencer’s school located on 3rd South and Main streets. Among the other schools she attended was the school taught by Karl G. Maeser at the twentieth Ward. She also attended the University of Deseret from 1874 to 1876 at which time she left school to prepare for her marriage to John Henry Smith, his second wife, on 4 April, 1877. They were married in the St. George Temple, the first couple to be sealed in a Utah Temple. Eight children were born to them.
     There are many interesting events in Josephine’s early life. She was just a little girl when Johnston’s Army was stationed at Camp Floyd. The sight of the soldiers filled her with fear. When she was seven years of age, her parents moved from their home at 2nd South and Main Streets to the property at 82 West 1st (now 2nd) North where she spent the remainder of her life.
     John Henry Smith was born 18 September, 1848 in Carbunca, Iowa to George A. Smith and Sarah Ann Libby. He was called to the Apostleship on 27 October 1880. In October 1882 he  was called to preside over the European mission. A year later he sent for Josephine to take charge of the mission home in Liverpool. She left Sarah, her first child, with her parents and took Nicholas with her. She had been in England only a few months when her mother died 28 December 1883. Six months later, 29 June 1884, her father passed away. With the death of both parents she felt she had to return to the little daughter she had left behind with her folks. She arrived in Utah 11 August 1883.
     As one of the General Authorities of the Church, John Henry was required to travel to numerous branches of the Church throughout the mountain States, Canada, and Mexico. He was to hold conferences and to carry on the business of the Church in those remote places. In June 1887, he was on a trip through Arizona, New Mexico, and old Mexico. Josephine decided to meet Him in Snowflake, Arizona. He certainly was surprised to see her, but he surprised her too. He left her there. The people took her and her children in with open arms. Aunt Emma Smith, wife of Uncle Jesse N. Smith, moved out of her home so Mother could have a place to live. Everyone was wonderful to her.
     Josephine always felt that the Lord aided her in the trials that came to her. While in Arizona diphtheria broke out in a neighbor’s home. Four children in that home died within nine days. Mother went back and forth giving aid as she could to those in distress. Her family was spared from that dreadful disease. During the Spring of 1888 John Henry decided to move the family to the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. There it would be more convenient for him to visit them. Manassa is about fifty miles from the New Mexico border and was a small Mormon community made up of converts mostly from the Southern States. During the time a great many plural wives found refuge there. Mother enjoyed the companionship and association of these wonderful women. Manassa was the birthplace of her youngest son Glenn and the noted boxer, Jack Dempsey, the “Manassa Mauler.” When Glenn got older and developed an interest in boxing, he came to know Jack Dempsey personally in Salt Lake City.
     Utah became a state of the Union in 1896. Josephine was happy when it was decided she and the children should return home to Salt Lake City.
     The evening of 12 October 1911, John Henry and Josephine spent a very pleasant evening at home reading “Heart Throbs.” He passed away just a half hour after retiring to bed.
     Josephine felt it was so wonderful of Aunt Sarah to share her husband with her and to go through all the heartbreak it took to be willing to do such a noble act. Mother always said they were like sisters, only more so, because they never experienced differences. The two families enjoyed an amiable kindred unity. It was often said that the Smith parents set a lofty example of what this divine principle of polygamy should be. The children were as welcome in Aunt Sarah’s home as in their own. They loved to go there and have the wonderful home-made bread right out of the oven with good butter and honey on it. After the manifesto, John Henry did not desert his second family as some weaker men did, but he cared for them just as devotedly as before. He treated both wives just the same, always bringing gifts when returning from his many trips away from home. Among the gifts there were always souvenir spoons for each wife. When Josephine was eighty-five, she had enough spoons to give one dozen to each of her children. They treasure those spoons with the many other precious things she handed down to her children.
     Josephine fell at home and broke her hip in September 1943. She was homebound from that time until she passed away 1 November 1948. She was laid to rest next to John Henry
4 November 1948. She had 4 granddaughters and 21 grandsons. Incidentally, all of the grandsons were over 6 feet tall, and some of the granddaughters.
     Josephine was a Relief Society block teacher for twenty years. She was secretary to Aunt Clarissa S. Williams in the Ward organization for several years and was a member of the General Primary Board for a short time. Her most rewarding service in the Church was the time she spent in the Salt Lake Temple where she labored for over forty years. She was dearly loved by everyone for her clever sense of humor and her devotion to the Church and its ideals.

Edited from materials written by Arzella and Josephine Smith in January 1951

[LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol 4, p 298.]

Josephine Groesbeck Smith, a member of the general board of the Primary Association from 1902 to 1905, was born Oct., 13, 1857, in Salt Lake City, Utah, a daughter of Nicholas Groesbeck and Elizabeth Thompson. She was baptized in 1865 by Thomas Carlyle. She attended Karl G. Maeser’s school, John Morgan’s Business College, and other schools and studied at the Deseret University for three years. In 1876-1877 she was secretary of the Y.L.M.I.A. in the 17th Ward, Salt Lake City, and secretary of the Relief Society of the same ward during the presidency of Clarissa S. Williams. In 1883-1884 she filled a mission to Europe with her husband, and for thirty-four years has labored as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple and part of that time has served as a teacher in the Relief Society of the 17th Ward and as a member of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. On April 4, 1877, she was married to John Henry Smith and became the mother of the following children: Sarah A., Nicholas G., Joseph H., Elizabeth, Lucy (dead), Glenn G., Arzella, and Josephine.

October 13, 1948, by Gordon B. Hinckley [newspaper article, Church News or Deseret News.]

Salt of the Earth

Veteran Temple Worker Holds —
     Record of Many Years of Service for Her Church

     BEDFAST IN THE HOME which stands on property which her father purchased 86 years ago, Josephine Groesbeck Smith today celebrates her ninety-first birthday. She is feeble, and old; and tired. The sands of life are running out. She has earned her rest after a life of service consecrated to the cause of the Lord.
     She is the widow of John Henry Smith, counselor to President Joseph F. Smith, and for more than thirty years a member of the Council of the Twelve, and father of President George Albert Smith. One of her sons, Nicholas G. Smith, served as an assistant to the Council of the Twelve, and another, Glen [sic] G. Smith, today presides over the Texas-Louisiana Mission.
     Until five years ago, when she fell and broke her leg, Josephine G. Smith constantly kept busy at some good work. For forty years she served as an ordained worker in the Salt Lake Temple. Thousands remember her for her kindness and understanding helpfulness. She herself did vicarious work for uncounted numbers of people, many of whom doubtless will be waiting “over there” to express appreciation.
     TEMPLE WORK was one of her major interests. She has the honor of having been the first woman married in a Utah temple. On April 4, 1877, two days before the St. George Temple was dedicated, she and John Henry Smith were married in that sacred building.
     As a polygamous wife, she experienced the hard days of the “underground,” when U.S. marshals sought her in order that they might prosecute her husband. On more than one occasion she hurried out the back door when a buggy stopped before the front gate. Taking a baby with her, she would stay away for a week or more at a time.
     On one occasion, have [sic] been warned that the marshals were after her, she gathered her three children about her, and made her way to Snowflake, Arizona. There she escaped the marshals, but she was plagued by another fear. A virulent epidemic of whooping cough spread through the community. Then followed an outbreak of diphtheria. Four children died within nine days at a neighbor’s home. The medicines of the time were of no avail. There was no preventive inoculation. The dread disease marched from house to house, bringing fever and death. In all of this, Sister Smith nursed the sick, and prayed for her own children’s safety. She never forgot the mercies of the Lord, in her behalf, and throughout her days she has sought to return her gratitude through helpfulness to others.
     From Arizona she moved to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. There, largely alone, she reared her children. One of the tragedies of those days occurred when the family cow, the source of milk, broke her leg and had to be shot.
     WHEN STATEHOOD CAME to Utah, and old misunderstandings and persecutions largely ceased, she returned to Salt Lake City. Here she engaged in Relief Society work. Few women were ever better qualified by experience to understand trouble and sorrow. She knew, as few have known, how to administer with a kindly hand to the needs of those in distress.
     Even during the last war when her sight was dimmed by cataracts, and her body was enfeebled by age, she spent her time knitting and making pillow materials for the Red Cross.
     Few are left of her generation. Most of the things which to her are familiar, are only facts in history books for the rest of us. She was born as Johnston’s Army was making its boastful march across the plains. She remembers the soldiers of that army on the streets of Salt Lake City. She recalls the Indians who lurked about the homes begging for food. The wide paved highways where thousands of automobiles and trucks roll every day were dusty, weed-grown-wagon roads when she was a child. A visit to her uncle in Springville, Utah, required a day and a half in a hard-riding wagon.
     SHE WAS QUITE a girl when the railroad came to Utah, and was past middle age when the first airplane visited the city. She has witnessed the history of the world since the beginning of the Civil War to the dropping of the atom bomb. She has seen the fruits of man’s greed and evil, and has been made to suffer insult and drivings because of bigotry and intolerance. But through it all she has treasured and practiced the old virtues of forebearance, kindness, industry.
     Many people have lived to be 91. But few have filled so many years with experiences so rich, and few can look back with such satisfaction at having made the most of what life had to offer.


With her son Nicholas, his wife Elizabeth, and family crossed the plains in 1856, Marie (Polly) being seventy-one years old.

She had been a widow for forty-five years. Maria was the mother of nine children, three girls and six boys. The youngest being four years old when her husband died. After her arrival in the Great Salt Lake Valley there is very little written about her.
There was not a marker at Maria’s grave site in the Salt Lake City Cemetary. In 1992 the Groesbeck Organization had a marker placed in her honor.

History submitted to the DAR by Marjorie M. Wagstaff, Salt Lake City, Utah.
[Name spelled Marie in this short history.]

Birth date:      22 Sep 1786, Schenectedy, New York
Death:          27 Apr 1872, Salt Lake City, Utah
Parents:     Nicholas Bovie and Hannah Baptist
Pioneer:     2 Oct 1856, John Banks Co., Wagon Train
Spouse:     Harmon Bogardus Groesbeck
Married:     1807, New York
His death:     25 Aug 1828, Buskirk, Rensselaer, New York

CHILDREN:     Harmon,      1808
          Sarah          31 Aug 1809
          David          1810/1811
          Hannah     1812
          Maria          1814/1815
          Cornelius     1 Mar 1817
          Nicholas     5 Sep 1819
          Jacob          1821
          James          1822/1824
          Stephen     13 Apr 1827

History prepared by Bruce Blanchard, February 2010.
Maria “Polly” Bovee was born Sept 22, 1786 in Schenectady, New York. She was the oldest of eleven children born to Nicholas Bovee and Hannah Baptiste.  Her brother, Matthias died in Nauvoo Sept 15, 1846, at the age of fifty.  This was right at the time the mob drove the remaining Mormons out of Nauvoo.  

Maria married Harmon Bogardus Groesbeck about 1807 in the state of New York.  They became the parents of nine children.  Her son Nicholas joined the church and she came to Utah with him in 1856 in the John Banks Wagon Train, at the age of seventy.  Her husband, Harmon, had died August 25, 1828 in Buskirk, Rensselaer County, New York so Maria had been a widow for almost twenty-eight years at that time.

She passed away on April 29, 1873 at the age of 86, having been a widow for forty-four years and was buried in the SLC Cemetery in John Morgan’s lot.


Elizabeth was born Aug. 16, 1820 to John A Thompson and Ruth (Peterson) Sutton in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Little is known about her childhood, but as an adult she possessed a lovely, gracious personality and was blessed with a character that made its influence for good felt wherever she was.
Elizabeth married Nicholas Groesbeck, March 25, 1841, in Springfield, Illinois. They were the parents of ten children. Their first child was stillborn.
The Groesbeck family had planned to leave in early May, 1856. However, they were delayed due to an accidental fire started by one of their young sons, Nicholas Harmon. It was June when they left Illinois for Missouri.
Having crossed the Plains by wagon, they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, October 2, 1856, then camped at “Union Square” which is now the site of West High School.
They acquired many rental properties, houses, apartments and commercial buildings. A family, destitute because of illness and unemployment, rented a cottage from the Groesbecks. A puzzled friend asked the husband where he got the money to pay the rent. The man replied, “We receive the rent money from Mrs. Groesbeck. She comes around with the rent money a day or two before her husband comes around to collect it.”
Elizabeth paid the immigration expenses of an English convert who then worked as a maid in the Groesbeck home. Her influence of doing good was felt by many throughout the Valley. She desired no recognition for all the good she did.
Elizabeth’s mother-in-law, Maria “Polly” Bovee Groesbeck, who was born in Schenectady, New York, 22 Sep. 1786, crossed the plains with her son Nicholas, Elizabeth and their family in 1856. Maria was seventy-one years old so this was quite an accomplishment. She was the mother of nine children and had been a widow for forty-five years.
Elizabeth died in Salt Lake City on December 28, and age 83. Her husband died June 29, 1884. They are both buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Jas. T. Jakeman, Daughters of Utah Pioneers and their Mothers, p. 219.
Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck was the daughter of John Anderson [or Amberson] Thompson and Ruth Peterson. She was born near Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. She was married at Springfield, Ill., March 25th, 1841, to Nicholas Groesbeck. She lived in Springfield for sixteen years and emigrated with her family to Salt Lake City in 1856, arriving at this place the first of October, of the same year. She was first president of the Primary Association of the Seventeenth Ward, also a member of the Relief Society. She was noted for her great generosity which was not confined to her immediate neighbors, but extended out into the country and even across the seas, being instrumental in emigrating a number of Saints to this country, one of whom became her daughter-in-law. She was a devoted wife, ever ready to serve mankind and her God. She was the mother of eight boys and two girls.

Heart Throbs of the West, vol 8, p 44, Arzella Smith

Nicholas Groesbeck and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck were pioneer of October 1, 1856, coming from Springfield, Illinois. Elizabeth Groesbeck’s clothes were distinctive. One dress was designed and made by Miss Mary Hansen. She was a very lovely lady and an exceptional dressmaker. Grandmother Groesbeck had made it a habit to go to Emigration Square to meet the pioneer trains as they came into the valley. This is where she met Mary, who apparently made many of the dresses for grandmother.

This particular dress was made for the wedding of Priscilla Paul Jennings and William W. Riter, which took place in the early 1880s. Grandmother and her eldest daughter, Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan, assisted Mary Hansen in its completion. The material is mainly heavy black satin over a foundation of heavy black lining. It is a two-piece costume, with a caught-up bustle effect at the back of the short train skirt. The skirt is decked with two draped flounces of satin trimmed black velvet, and edged with jet bead and chenille fringe. The velvet was purchased by Grandfather Groesbeck while in England. He paid $25.00 a yard for it. The back of the skirt is draped and caught into the side seams to give a tucked draped picture across the back. There is a short train which is lined with black lining laid into wide box pleats to hold the velvet train away from the feet and the floor.

The jacket is made with a shirred V-shape vest which extends to the waistline. It is edged with wide black lace. Open reverse of the jacket below the waistline are trimmed with a facing of black velvet. It is also edged with black lace around the bottom of the jacket. As grandmother always wore a watch and chain, there was a small velvet pocket placed at the left front side on the waistline for this purpose.