JOHN DAVID LAFAYETTE PEARCE
John David Lafayette Pearce was born at Itawamba Co., Mississippi, 5 April 1837. He received his schooling in Mississippi and migrated from Mississippi to Payson, Utah in 1852, arriving in October. He and Martha Elmina Pace were married by J.B. Fairbanks, at Payson, Utah, 2 April 1857.
John was endowed at Salt Lake Endowment House about Nov. 1863 and received his patriarchal blessing from Charles D. Evans, 1 Aug 1899.
He was a soldier and farmer and was a colonel in the cavalry.
He was 6' tall, weighed 175, chest size 40, had brown eyes and brown hair, and had good health for most of his life. He died of tuberculosis at Washington, Washington, Utah, 7 Feb 1909.
(A brief sketch of the life of J.D.L. Pearce written by his daughter Nancy P. Barron)
In writing this little sketch of Father's life, I will only be able to touch upon a few of the high spots; as so much of his work was done while the state was new, and so very few of his earlier experiences have been recorded that a great deal will have to be from memory of the things I have heard him tell verbally.
John David Lafayette Pearce was born at Attawamba Co., Mississippi, on April 5, 1837. His parents were Harrison and Henrietta Cromeans Pearce.
Harrison and Henrietta joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a rather forceful manner. Having heard that there was a new religion being taught some forty miles away, his father and two or more friends, walked that distance to hear the new preaching. While the menfolks were taking this journey, two Mormon missionaries came into the neighborhood preaching the gospel. The wives of the absent men were converted and baptized before their husbands returned, and the men were converted and baptized during their absence.
They immediately joined the main body of the Church at Winter Quarters where they worked and got together teams, wagons, etc., to make the long journey across the plains to be able to gather with the Saints in the Valleys of the Mountains.
The family consisted of father, mother, and seven children. One daughter died of cholera and was buried on the plains while enroute to the mountains. The father, a schoolmaster, carpenter and wheelwright, never a robust man, was ill a very great deal, leaving the greater part of the hard work of pioneering a new country to John, he being the oldest child.
The family arrived at Payson in 1852. They were very active in assisting to build up that new town. John married Martha E. Pace on April 2, 1857.
In October of the same year, he, with many others, was called to go to Echo Canyon to intercept the U.S. Army that was advancing under Gen. Johnson, which was declared to be on the way to exterminate or drive away the Mormons. He spent all that cold winter with his companions, and they were very poorly equipped and lacked warm clothes and bedding and food, etc. which were necessary in that cold climate of Echo Canyon.
Both he and his wife belonged to the Tate Drom Club of Payson for several seasons and were among those who first founded that association.
He was called to the Dixie Mission in 1861, and in the spring of 1862 moved to St. George. Only those who participated in that hard mission at that time can quite comprehend just what that mission meant.
He was commissioned to be Colonel of Calvary on Feb.22, 1867 and was active in settling the many difficult troubles with the Indians in that section of the country. He was on General W. B. Pace's staff in the San Pete Co. in the summer of 1867 from April until September and assisted in the settling of the Black Hawk War.
He was later called as Bishop of the Lamanites and taught them the Book of Mormon and their relationship to it.
He was a U.S. Indian Interpreter for some time.
(A story about J.D.L. Pearce written by his daughter, Ruth P. Roylance under the direction of Martha Elimina Pearce.)
In the spring of 1866, Brother Erastus Snow called a council of his officers to arrange for calling in the people from the outside settlements as the Navaho Indians had been very troublesome.
Brother Snow said, "Brother John, if you will select a man to take command, you may stop at home and put in your crops, as you have had such a strenuous winter."
Brother Branche was chosen. He selected Uncle Tom Pearce, Jesse Crosby, El Roy Barner, and some 9 or 10 others--the best boys in the country. They were to start from the Public Square. Father went down to see them off.
Brother Snow, of course, was there also to see that all was right. He did not seem satisfied and said to father, "Brother John, this is going to be a very critical trip to move those people out of Long Valley, and I had much rather you would go. And I want you to bring the women and children whether the men come or not.
Father said in answer, "All right, but I have no horse."
Brother Branche got off his horse, turned it over to father, who simply wrote a note to mother saying, "I will have to go. You do the best you can and God Bless you," and was gone.
He had no trouble, however, in getting the men to leave as they were glad to help and to have company to help them out. There were about 20 wagons and several horses and cattle. They had a very serious trip. One small boy was run over by a wagon and killed, and they had to stop and bury him. One babe was born, also.
They traveled at night to avoid the Indians. In coming down a long, lone canyon, Father stationed Uncle Tom and a part of the men behind the company, himself and the rest in advance. Always on the alert, his keen ear heard the chirp of a bird. Father suspicioned Indians. He shouted for the Indian to come out and told him to call to his friends and tell them to go away or he would kill him without further talk. One other Indian came out. They seized them and bound them and marched diem in front of the company until morning when they were on good roads in open country. They then bound the Indians over to keep the peace and turned them loose. They found later that they were two of the worst Indians in the country at that time.
Upon receiving report of the trip, Brother Snow said he was pretty well acquainted with the history of Indian warfare, but that move out of Long Valley was the best planned and showed the best generalship of any he had heard of.