Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seth Utley

Of course, you all know about Seth Utley, that early Tennessee Mormon Pioneer. What, you don't know who he is?

Seth Utley was born in Wake County, North Carolina on October 7, 1789. Following the tradition of his father, who fought in the American Revolution, Seth fought in the War of 1812.

After the war ended, he married Bathseba Woods in Wake County North Carolina in around 1816.

In 1817, he along with two of his brothers, Able and Burwell, emigrated to Reynoldsburg, Stewart County (later Humphreys County), Tennessee. They followed the Uncle Burwell Lashley (their mother’s brother) who settled in Reynoldsburg.

Seth and Bathseba began their family in Tennessee.
1. John Wesley Utley born 2 December 1817
2. Martha J. Utley born abt 1820

He sold his land in Reynoldsburg to John Cobb and moved across the Tennessee River. There he received a land grant on 9 February 1821, which eventually became part of the Third Civil District of Benton County, Tennessee.

Eight more children were born to Seth and Bathseba.
3. Mary Amanda Utley born 7 November 1821.
4. Margaret C. Utley born ca. 1824.
5. Russell Utley born ca. 1825.
6. Nancy Elizabeth Utley born 13 January 1827.
7. Burwell L. Utley born 27 December 1827.
8. Cale Utley born in 1830.
9. Adeline L. Utley born ca. 1831.
10. George W. Utley born ca. 1834

In 1835, Mormon missionaries (probably Patten and Parish) taught and baptized Seth, although the exact date and circumstances are lost to history, Seth became a pillar of the small Mormon community at Eagle Creek in Benton County, Tennessee.

Seth makes another appearance, this time in Wilford Woodruff's journal dated November 15, 1835. During that visit Seth was witness to a "sign in the heavens" recorded by Wilford Woodruff; "three clouds having the appearance of fire and blood." (November 17th 1835).

Another child was born to Seth and Bathseba. Perhaps named after someone they had recently come to admire.
11. Joseph Seth Utley born 16 February 1836.

On 19 June 1836, while Elders Patten and Parish and were staying at the home of Seth Utley, a mob of about 40 gathered around the Utley home. The sheriff produced a warrant for their arrest. The warrant was written on the urging of a local Methodist minister name Matthew Williams on the charge of making false prophesies. Seth Utley and Albert Petty (another local covert) put up the required bond of $2,000.

The details of the trial are subject for another post, but they were eventually released and only had to pay court costs. Afterwards they went back to Seth Utley’s home. When they arrived they heard that a mob had gathered again angry that the missionaries had been released. Mounting their mules, they took a back route to Albert Petty’s home where they went to bed. They had not been asleep long when Elder Patten woke up Elder Parrish, telling him that a heavenly messenger had warned him that the mob was near and that they should leave. When the mob arrived the Elders had already left. But it was morning before they found the mule tracks. By then the Elders were long gone.

Seth and Bathseba last child was perhaps also named after a church leader and witness of the Book of Mormon.
12. Martin Van Utley born 23 March 1840.

Sometime after the birth of Martin, Seth sold his land and moved to Arkansas. Seth appears on legal records in Tennessee in 1844, but he moved to Arkansas in time to be included on the 1850 Census. Most stories about him say he went to be with the other Mormons. The tone and misspellings make it clear they were not written by members of the LDS Church. So, I don't think he really went to be with the saints. Still I don’t know why Arkansas. But it is clear that he indeed went to Arkansas, along with several of his married children. It is possible that Seth joined one of the splinter groups formed after the death of Joseph Smith, though I don’t know of any based in Arkansas. It is more likely he joined some branch of his family I have yet to identify.

Seth died in Prairie County, Arkansas on 15 August 1866. A marker was provided by the Veterans Administration for the War of 1812.

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