John Lambert

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

John Lambert


Written by Ralph B. Montgomery in 1998

(Note: Ralph B. Montgomery is the grandson of
Mary Elizabeth Lambert, daughter of John Lambert,
and Robert Booth Montgomery.)

The Lamberts of Yorkshire, England, were farmers and stock raisers. They used to go to Scotland each fall and bring back a herd of black cattle (presumably of the Galloway or Angus breeds) fatten them on oil cake and drive them to London to market. These people trace their ancestry back to 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, pioneer of "Rhoades Valley" now Kamas, Utah, was born at Gargrave,Yorkshire, England, 31 Jan 1820, son of Richard Lambert and Patience Vay. He was the third child of a family of five, two older sisters, Elizabeth and Hannah, and two younger brothers, Richard and Joseph.

As a young boy he [John] had to make his own living as his father died when he was 13 years old. He never had a day of schooling and never learned to read or write very well, but he was exceptionally good at figures.

John first heard the gospel preached by Elder Francis Moon in 1837 and was baptized in October of the same year. In 1840, with his brother Richard, he emigrated to America, 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 with his brother Richard, went on the lakes to Chicago. From there they traveled by horse and wagon to a point on Rock River 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.

For ten years John Lambert lived with the Mormons in Illinois, Missouri and Iowa. It was here he met his first wife, Adelia G. Groesbeck, of Dutch descent. She was sitting under a tree reading a book which proved to be the Book of Mormon. Two weeks later, Feb. 6, 1846, they were married at Sugar Creek, Iowa.

John Lambert was a member of the Nauvoo Legion and well acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. Being about the same size and build as the Prophet, they often jumped and wrestled together. He was fourteen years younger than the Prophet, but his association with this great leader was an important period of his training.

His daughter, Elena, remembers some unique experiences related by her father. Once when members of a mob were waiting outside a meeting house where the Prophet was talking, an old white-headed man stood by the Prophet with a halo round them both. He went to the door with the Prophet, the mob stepped back and he went through without being touched. John believed the man by the prophet's side to be one of the three Nephites. To him [John] the Prophet was next to Christ in greatness.

Another time there was a drought in Illinois and the Prophet called the people together to pray for rain. When the meeting began there wasn't a cloud in the sky but by the time it was out a steady rain was falling.

After the Prophet's death, John Lambert, my grandfather, had one of the bullets he was shot with, also the handkerchief he had around his neck at the time of his death. He prized these treasures and kept them carefully wrapped and in a tin box called an "English Caddy." Many people came to his home to see them.

This was a stirring time in Mormon history. Sam Brannon on the ship, "Brooklyn" led a well organized group of people to the west coast. The main body of Mormons also left for the Great Basin. Everyone was busy 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. He with his wife Adelia and two children, Adelaide and John Carlos were members of the Lorenzo Young Company who came to Utah, arriving 11 Sept. 1850. They settled 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 home the following children were born: Mary Adelia, Sarah Amelia, Richard Franklin, Jedediah Grant and Ann Maria. As a stone mason John Lambert was experienced in a very useful occupation in building Zion. He worked on the Salt Lake Temple and farmed a ten-acre tract of land south of the city. It is said that Brigham Young offered him the lot where the Salt Lake Theater was later built if he would continue to work on the Temple, but he did not like the bosses under whom he was expected to work, so he declined and accepted a call to go and help build up "Rhodes Valley" which is now Kamas, Utah. He also had a chance to acquire the land where Gilmer Park now is, but instead he and his family moved to Kamas in the spring of 1861.

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 his daughter that one day his wife, Adelia said, "John, come here and look out the window, there goes your wife." This was Elena Hansina Larsen, a Danish girl, the first to be baptized in Denmark. They were married in Salt Lake City 10 June 1855. Three children were born to them in their Salt Lake City home, Joseph Heber, Ephraim, and Dan. Twelve more children were born to them while in Kamas.

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 some 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 if there was no roof over their heads.

Brigham Young called men to take their families and go to different regions. This is why the John Lambert family moved to "Rhoades Valley" or Kamas as it is now called. John built the first house in Kamas, Summit County, Utah, and a memorial stands on that spot today.

After moving to Kamas, two children, Emma Cordelia and Mercy were born to Adelia, the first wife, and Elena Dorothy, Elizabeth, Sarah Christina, Rebecca Cornelia, Laura Amanda, Benjamin, Parley, Emmeline Agnes, and Alice Adelia were born to Hansine, the second wife.

The food was coarse and offered little variety. John cleared land and planted wheat, but the snow was 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 and this was used to grind the wheat for making mush and a very coarse bread. They also cooked the whole wheat and ate that instead of bread. They had pork, mutton and some beef, but very little sugar. For sweetening they used a sticky red syrup made from table beets. Prices were high compared with the wages the people received at that time.

John Lambert was a great friend to the Indians. He believed as Brigham Young said, it is better to feed them than to fight them. Many times they had two large tables full of Indians to feed at one time. The Indians used to come to Kamas in tribes and they always called for "Namba" as they called him. He sometimes gave them a sheep or a beef.

At one time the Indians stole their horses. His son, John, with two others, William Gibson and Oscar Clark, went after them. He told the boys to be very cautious in what they did or said and not to shoot unless they had to. The three young men followed the Indians to what was called Blue Mountains, the other side of Vernal. They were gone two weeks, but got the horses back without serious trouble. On their way home they ran out of food and could find no water. William Gibson killed a rabbit a nd drank its blood, but the other two couldn't do it.

His daughter remembers as a child of moving to Peoa in covered wagons and living in a tent while the men built a fort for protection against the Indians. The old log school house was dirt roofed with logs to sit on for benches. Slabs were used and finally desk seats for two.

His daughter also tells this story. There was an elderly lady by the name of Davis that lived in their community and the young boys were always teasing her, especially these three: Bub Parks, Howard Deluce, and Cal McCormick. One day they killed her cat. Mrs. Davis skinned and cleaned the cat and cooked it with some lovely dumplings and invited the three boys to dinner. They came and after eating told her how good the meat and dumplings were. She then told them and they went outside and lost their dinner, but it didn't seem to bother the other one.

John's brother, Richard, remained in Illinois and became a leader of the Reorganized Church. His mother and young brother, Joseph, came to Utah where Joseph died at an early age, and his mother married again.

John Lambert was a lover of horses and had the biggest, best team of anyone in the country He took such good care of them that his wife sometimes told him she thought he thought more of his horses than he did of his family. He said no he didn't, but his family could take and care for themselves and poor, dumb animals couldn't.

He was always the first one to get out and build bridges and clear the snow off the roads so they could be traveled on and the children could get to school. He was good at caring for sick animals and whenever any of the neighbors' horses got sick they always brought them to him to be doctored.

Early in life he lost the sight of one eye from the effects of erysipelas, this of course, was a great handicap. He was ordained a Seventy on 24 Oct. 1844 by John Eldridge and remained faithful Latter-day Saint until the time of his death.

I have often heard his daughter Elena say that her father always said that when he died he wanted the Prophet Joseph Smith to come and accompany him to the spirit world. His last illness was a stroke and he was paralyzed and unable to talk. His son, Dan, was the only person in the room when his father died and he said he saw the Prophet by the side of his father's bed as he passed away. The family always felt that because their father was unable to talk, his son was permitted to see the Prophet so they would know that their father's wish had been granted.

John Lambert lived to be 73 years old and died from the effects of the stroke, 25 Nov. 1893, at Kamas, Utah and is buried in the cemetery there. He has a large posterity and many of his descendants have pioneered Uintah, Wasatch, and Duchesne counties.

From an account in the "History of Uintah County" p.230, it appears that John Lambert went to Ashley Valley in 1881 to escape the "polyg hunters." The following is an excerpt from that history:

"The organization of the first church in the Ashley Valley took place in January 1878. Thomas Bingham, a Mormon polygamist who had arrived in 1877, was chosen to preside over the little colony of LDS members called by President John Taylor to settle Ashley Valley. In 1878 Bingham reported to church officials that a hundred Mormons had settled in the valley and advised that a church organization should be formed. His request was granted, and the organizational meeting was held near the Green River. The members were placed under the jurisdiction of the Wasatch Stake, with headquarters in Heber City. On 1 June 1879 three districts were formed and presidents selected: Mountain Dell (Dry Fork), Thomas Bingham; Incline (Jensen), Fred G. Williams; and Ashley Center, Jeremiah Hatch. Church meetings were held in homes until schoolhouses or meeting houses were built.

"The arrival of additional Mormons in the Uintah Basin led to the organization on 11 September 1881 of Ashley Center and Mountain Dell into wards; the former district presidents became bishops.[p.230] Included among the new arrivals were a number of polygamists seeking to evade arrest by federal officials for violation of anti-polygamy laws. Federal marshals followed polygamists into the Uintah Basin, and while some including Thomas Bingham, Jr., and Frank Hadlock were arrested and sent to the territorial prison in Salt Lake City; others like John Lambert managed to escape arrest by hiding under an overturned wagon bed, and then spent the winter concealed in the middle of a haystack with a hole cut down from the top."

~Ralph B.Montgomery, May 1998

Back to John Lambert's main page.

| Home | Family | Ancestry | Histories | Old Photos | Headstones | Utah Pioneers | Views of Utah | Views of Wales | Welsh Photo Links | Danish Photo Links |