Ira Ames

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Question: What part did Ira Ames play in the dedication of the Kirtland Temple?

Answer: Ira Ames was born in Bennington County, Vermont 22 September 1804, one of five children born to Ithamer Ames and Hannah Clark. When he was six years old his father was building a barn and fell to the ground. He died three days later. Ira’s mother was two months pregnant with her fifth child. Ithamer’s brother, Samuel, who had no children of his own, took Ira, his sister, Lydia, and his younger brother, Clark, to care for.

When eighteen years of age, Ira began an apprenticeship in the leather tanning trade. Ira was brought up in the strictest order of the Methodist Church. Jared Carter married Ira’s sister, Lydia. Through Jared, Ira became acquainted with his future wife, Charity Carter in 1824. On 4 December 1826, Ira married Charity Carter.

In 1827, he bought a farm and tannery in Mooers, New York for $350. In June 1832 Ira was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Jared Carter in the Champlain River. As Ira, dripping, walked back to the house, “a bright light burst on my mind. Many passages of Scripture came most plain and clear to my mind; I understood the work of these last days. I was full of intelligence and light and had a full evidence of the truth [of the Church].”

In May 1833 Ira sold his farm and tannery, and with his family, and other families including the Carters, traveled to Kirtland, Ohio. The Kirtland Temple was already started. Here, Ira first met the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. Also, Ira’s first acquaintance of Brigham Young was in Kirtland. “He came frequently to my house to sing of which we were both very fond.” Here Ira also received his patriarchal blessing under the hands of Joseph Smith Sr.

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From 1835 through 1836, Ira worked on the temple, slept rolled in a blanket on the Prophet’s floor at night to guard against the depredations of the mob, kept the temple books in order, was assigned to receive tithing and donations, and was chorister at the Kirtland temple dedication. Just before Ira left Kirtland, he was ordained a high priest.

In April of 1838, Ira and his family started for Missouri. His whole outfit for his journey to Missouri was one wagon, three horses, $30 in money, and $30 in dry goods. In Missouri the mobs took everything Ira had except two horses. When Ira arrived in Quincy, Illinois, he went to work tanning for $1.00 a day. On June 22, 1839, Ira’s wife, Charity, died. Ira grieved greatly, and was left with five small children to raise. On August 10, 1839, Ira married Sarah Johnson at 0rrin Porter Rockwell's house. Sarah helped Ira care for his children after his wife died.

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In 1840 the family moved to Nauvoo, and in 1842 Ira was called on a mission to the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas. Ira then returned and settled on a farm outside Nauvoo. “The morning after his (Prophet Joseph’s) death on the 28th of June 1844, while at breakfast a messenger arrived who told us Joseph and Hyrum had been shot in Carthage Jail and that their bodies would be brought into Nauvoo on that day. My wife and I took our infant, Samuel, near two years old and went to Nauvoo. We stayed in Nauvoo until the funeral was over. And had the agonizing satisfaction of seeing their dead bodies in their Coffins. My feelings I will not attempt to describe. Language cannot paint it.”

In 1846 Ira moved his family to Council Bluffs. “We remained at the bluffs farming and raising stock, being greatly blessed and prospered until the year 1851.” In the summer of 1851, Ira and his family traveled with the Easton Kelsey Company to the Salt Lake Valley. “We arrived in the Valley on the 22nd or 23rd day of September and my heart was poured out in thankfulness to God that I was once more with his true Servants, in the chambers of the Lord, in the tops of the Mountains. I felt heavenly. I felt I was at home again.”

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When Ira arrived in Salt Lake City, he purchased two city lots. He spent the winter getting out lumber from Brigham Canyon in the West Mountains to prepare for building in the spring. Ira built a four-room house and then started work in the tanning business. Ira moved from Salt Lake around 1859 to the Cache Valley. Ira died in Wellsville on January 16, 1869 and is buried in the Wellsville Cemetery.

Sources: Life of Ira Ames, From the collection of Marilyn Jackson, Escalante, Utah, FamilySearch.org; Journal and Record of the Life of Ira Ames, FamilySearch.org.