John Lambert

Born 31 Jan 1820, Gargrave, West Riding, Yorkshire, England
Died 25 Nov 1893, Kamas, Summit, Utah Territory, United States

John Lambert


Biography of John Lambert

by Della Lambert Snyder

a grandaughter


John Lambert, pioneer of "Rhodes Valley," Utah, was born at Gargrave, England, January 31, 1820. At an early age he was obliged to earn his living, for his daughter relates, that because of his father's death, John was working at the age of seven for his own maintenance.

The Lamberts of Yorkshire, England, were farmers and stock raisers. They were in the habit of going to Scotland each fall and bringing back a herd of black cattle (presumably of the Galloway or Angus breeds), fattening them on oil cake and then driving them to London to the market.

These people trace their ancestry back to one Sir Rudolphus Lambert, an uncle of William the Conqueror, who came to England from Normandy in 1066 a.d.. This man, Rudolphus Lambert, was allotted an estate in Yorkshire.

John Lambert said that the English giant, Daniel Lambert, spoken of in the back of the big dictionary, was a member of the family. This man was so big he weighed 736 pounds. When he died he could not be taken out through the door so grandfather related that a side of the house was removed in order to get the big man out.

John Lambert was a member of the Ninth Quorum of Seventies. He first heard the latter-day gospel preached by Elder Francis Moon in October of the same year.

In 1840 John Lambert emigrated to America with his brother, coming on the sailing vessel North America and spending thirty-two days on the water. Landing at New York they took a steamboat up the Hudson River to Albany where they transferred to a flat horse-drawn boat on the Erie Canal which took them to Buffalo, New York. This boat is said to have traveled so slowly that the passengers had time to explore the countryside where they found an abundance of wild apples, which they relished very much.

From Buffalo John Lambert went with his brother Richard, [sister Elizabeth, and younger brother, Joseph] on the lakes to Chicago. From there they traveled by horse and wagon to a point on Rock Creek where they built a flat boat in which they floated down the Rock River and the Mississippi, arriving at Nauvoo, Illinois sometime in the fall of 1840...

This was a stirring time [1846] in Mormon history. Sam Brannon on the ship Brooklyn, led a well-organized group of people to the west coast. The main body of the Mormons also left for the Great Basin in 1846. Everyone was busy, among the saints, disposing of their property as well as they could and bartering for supplies to take with them on their long journey. John Lambert was also preparing to come to Utah. In 1850 he was a member of the Lorenzo Young Company.

As a member of the Nauvoo Legion, John Lambert was acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and at one time acted as the Prophet's body guard. Lambert lived with the Mormons in Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa for ten years. Being about the same size and build as the Prophet, John Lambert often jumped and wrestled with him. Lambert was fourteen years younger than the prophet, but the association with this great leader was an important period of training.

His daughter, Elena L. Michie, remembers some unique experiences related by her father. Once when members of a mob were waiting outside a meeting house where the Prophet was, a mist seemed to envelop him. Standing by his side was an elderly man with gray hair and beard. When Joseph Smith finished his business and passed out of the room the mist seemed to enclose both him and the stranger and as they went by the man at the door the mobbers failed to recognize the Prophet. Lambert told his children that he believed the personage by Joseph's side to be one of the Three Nephites. To John Lambert, the Prophet was next to Jesus in greatness and in telling the Lambert children of Joseph Smith, their father was always moved to tears. He never spoke in meeting but he closed by bearing his testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. After his [Joseph Smith's] death, the handkerchief worn around his neck and a slightly flattened lead ball said to have been shot into the Prophet's body, came into the possession of grandfather Lambert. He prized these as treasures and kept them carefully wrapped in a tin box called an English caddy.

As a stone mason John Lambert was experienced in a very useful occupation for "building up Zion." He worked on the Salt Lake temple. He also farmed a ten-acre tract of land south of the city. He first lived in the Second Ward in Salt Lake City and built a fence around the first lot in the ward. This lot was located at 7th south and 4th east. At this place the following children were born to the first wife: Mary Adelia, Sarah Amelia, Richard Franklin, Jedediah Grant, and Ann Maria. The Lamberts lived in Salt Lake City almost eleven years. To his second wife, Elena Hansina Larsen, whom he married in 1855, was born during this time: Joseph Heber, Ephraim, and Dan.

It is said that Brigham Young offered the lot to John Lambert where the Salt Lake theater was later built, if he would continue to work on the temple. He did not like the bosses under whom he was expected to work so he was called to go and help build up "Rhodes" Valley. Lambert also had a chance to obtain the land where Gilmer Park now is, but he decided to go to what is now Kamas, Summit County.

It was not long after their arrival in Utah that the doctrine of plural marriage began to be practiced more extensively. It is told by descendants that one day his first wife, Adelia, said, "John, if you want a second wife, why not take Sena Larsen?" This girl was about seventeen years of age and had worked in the Lambert home as a hired girl. Her disposition, character and habits were thus well known by the first wife. John, no doubt, thought well of this advice for he persuaded this young woman to marry him.

Wives, being "second in command" to the husband in a Latter-day Saint home, we must pause here for a bit of history of this wife. She was the first girl baptized into the church at Copenhagen, Denmark, at about the age of fourteen [actually 12]. She had come via New Orleans to St. Louis with the Forsgren Company and thence across the plains to Utah with 34 wagons and 130 oxen. They reached Salt Lake City, September 30, 1853.

These young married people lived in Salt Lake City at about the present site of Liberty Park. Here the second wife's first child was born, Joseph Heber. One of his earliest memories is of climbing up on the pole fence near their home to watch the maneuvers of Johnson's Army.

John Lambert experienced the anxiety of the coming of the soldiers and the fear for the safety of his wives and children. The second wife relates in a sketch of her life years later something of the hardships of the "move." The women and children were taken south to Utah valley. As no houses could be built on such short notice she was left in the shelter of an upturned wagon box. Later a family whose house was "up to the square" in the course of construction, invited her to move into their quarters and share them. This she did even though there was no roof over their heads.

Brigham Young called men to take their families and go to different regions. So it was that about 1860 the John Lambert family moved to "Rhodes Valley." This was in Summit County and is now called Kamas. Joseph, who was now about four and a half years old, relates how he helped drive the livestock on foot to that place. That he had been born with "club feet" that had not been braced properly to keep the arches in place, did not excuse him from any hard task. These people with other families spent the winter at Kamas.

Their food was coarse and offered little variety. John Lambert cleared land and planted wheat but the snow became so deep the next winter that they could not get to the mill at Salt Lake City when they ran out of flour. The Lamberts had brought a hand coffee mill with them. This was used by all four families in the valley to grind up the whole wheat. Some of this cracked wheat would be used for their bread and some was boiled and used as a porridge. There were some animals for food, such as sheep and pork. The cattle being a source of power were eaten very seldom. For sweetening in their diet these people had a sticky reddish syrup made from the red garden beets. Sugar was so expensive it was bought in pound lots and kept as a special treat for the sick, or to be used as a medicine.

From an old account book kept by the first wife, Adelia, and dated 1861, we get an idea of how foods were priced. It is quoted in an Improvement Era of April, 1939 as follows: flour, one hundred pounds, six dollars; pork, twenty-five cents a pound; butter, twenty-five cents a pound; cheese, twentyfive cents a pound; four and one half pounds of sat at fifteen cents a pound.

Household utensils and farm animals and implements were high priced when we consider that a man's wages were often as low as one dollar and seldom higher than two dollars and fifty cents. In this same account book we see one yoke of oxen was one hundred dollars; one coat, sixteen dollars, sole leather, eighteen fifty; one pair of flat irons, five dollars; one horn brand, five fifty; one wash tub, five dollars; one tub and bucket, seven dollar; and one boiling pot, three dollars.

John Lambert's children numbered twenty-one. The first wife, Adelia Groesbeck, was the mother of these in the order of their age. The two older children were born before their parents emigrated to Utah in 1850: Martha Adelaide Green, Mary Adelia Gibson, John Carlos, who married Olivia Anderson; Sarah Amelia Pack, Richard Franklin, who married Elva Woolstenhulme; Jedediah Grant, who married Alice Merrick; Ann Maria White; Emma Cordelia Pack, Mercy Harriet Lewis. the second wife, Elena Hansine Larsen, had twelve children. They were as follows: Joseph Heber, who married Alice Michie; Ephraim, who married Agnes Michie; Dan, who married May Young; Elena Dorothy, who married Robert M. Michie; Mary Elizabeth, who married Robert B. Montgomery; Sarah Christina, who died of whooping cough, Rebecca Cornelia, who married Ephraim Merrit; John Benjamin, who married Edith Lemon; Emmeline, who married [Jacob Janes, then] Frank Carpenter; and Parley William, who died of typhoid fever at the age of about sixteen. Then there was a girl, Laura Amanda, who died at about two years of age. The youngest was born dead and was named Alice Adelia.

From Kamas the descendants of John Lambert pioneered in Uintah, Wasatch and Duchesne Counties. In 1932 the descendants numbered 523 souls.

The mother [Patience Vay Lambert Redford] of John Lambert came to Utah and also his young brother [Joseph]. His mother is buried at Wellsville, Utah. The brother died young at Salt Lake City.

John Lambert lived to be 73 years old. Early in life he lost the sight of one of his eyes from the effects of erysipelas. After suffering from a paralytic stroke for several weeks, he died November 25, 1893 at Kamas, Utah.


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