Stephen and Lydia Jane Snyder Kelsey

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Question: After living in Brigham City, Utah, for eleven years, where were Stephen and Lydia Kelsey asked to move to help settle a new area?

Answer: Stephen Kelsey, Jr. was born December 29, 1830, at Montville, Ohio, the only son and the second child of Stephen Kelsey and Rachel Allen. His mother joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near this time, and from then on they were associated with the Church, and continued to move west with it.

In 1842, they first moved to Adams County, Illinois, near Nauvoo, and later moved to Nauvoo. They remained there until the 1846 expulsion of the Mormons from Nauvoo. During this year, they made their way to Cutler’s Park, Nebraska. Stephen Kelsey, Sr., the father, had never joined the church and the task of going out into this untamed territory did not appeal to him, so at the Des Moines River in Iowa, he left the company and his family and went back to Ohio.

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In the spring of 1847, Stephen Kelsey, Jr., volunteered to be a member of Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. He was only seventeen years of age and not a member of the Church at that time. He made it to the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. He was baptized on August 9, 1847 by Tarleton Lewis. He returned to Winter Quarters that fall. He found on his return, that his mother and one sister had passed away.

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In 1849, Stephen made a trip to California in search of gold. He secured a small amount on this trip and returned to Utah that fall. On March 13, 1851, Stephen married Lydia Jane Snyder, daughter of John Snyder and Jane Noble in Salt Lake City. Lydia was born on February 25, 1833 in Camden, Addington, Ontario, Canada. They made their first home at Union, a little village just south of Salt Lake City. They remained here until 1852, at which time they moved to Brigham City, where they made their home until the spring of 1864.

By this time the Kelsey family was well established in Brigham City. They had a nice home, as homes were then, a farm and some meadow land, cattle, horses, and a small band of sheep. In April 1864, however, they were called, along with others, to make settlements in the Bear Lake country. The Kelsey family disposed of their land holdings, etc., loaded their goods and chattles in covered wagons, with horses and oxen to pull them, and took off for the new country. They went by way of Cache Valley, up through Logan Canyon and on to the vicinity of Paris, Bear Lake, Idaho Territory.

The Kelseys acquired a lot and built their log house. The barn and other out-buildings were directly west of the house, about two hundred yards away. They homesteaded 160 acres of meadow land in the Paris-Dingle bottoms. They built a house and other buildings here and made this their home for three years. This was a requirement under the U.S. Homestead law. In addition, near this time, they squatted on one hundred acres of farm land northwest of Paris.

Stephen Kelsey and Lydia Snyder had a family of two boys and ten girls: Electa, Stephen, Lydia, Sylvia, Alice, Rachel, Mary, Vina, Betsy Ann, Minerva, Rozina, and Easton John. Rachel, the sixth child, and a baby when the came to Bear Lake, died in the winter of 1865 and was buried on the home lot at Paris. The eleven remaining children all grew up, married and reared families.

Over his own signature, Pioneer Stephen Kelsey wrote to The Tribune in 1897 from his home in Paris, Idaho, as follows:

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“I was born December 29, 1830, in Montville, Geauga county, Ohio, and in the year 1842 left said state and settled in Illinois. In 1846 I moved from Nauvoo, Ill., to Winter Quarters. In the Spring of 1847, although at that time not a member of the church, I volunteered to join the band of pioneers in their proposed march to the Rocky mountains under the leadership of Brigham Young.

First Encampment Marker

First Encampment Marker

“I left Winter Quarters about the 14th of April, and camped on the Elkhorn river. The band of pioneers were thoroughly organized into companies, I being one of Captain Markham’s fifty. I was also one of the advance company and reached Salt Lake valley on the 22nd of July 1847. After my arrival, I labored in the canyon, made adobes, etc. and worked with George A. Smith in building the first house in Salt Lake City.

“In the fall of 1847 I returned to Winter Quarters, and upon that trip endured many hardships which were more severe than the pioneer trip going west. I returned again to Salt Lake in the year 1848, where we lived until 1852. We then moved to Brigham City where we lived for eleven years, until the year 1864. I was then called to settle in the Bear Lake Valley, Idaho Territory, and located in Paris that year.”

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Stephen died on May 22, 1900 in Paris, Bear Lake, Idaho. Lydia died on October 9, 1905 in Paris. They are both buried in the Paris Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “Stephen Kelsey and Lydia Snyder,” by Seth C. Kelsey, FamilySearch. org; FindAGrave.com