Conrad Kleinman

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Question: What position did Conrad Kleinman have in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?

Answer: Conrad Kleinman, son of Konrad Kleinman, and Ottilia Wissing, was born April 19, 1815, in Berkwieler, Landau, a province in Bavaria near the French border and at one time was a French possession. Landau is no longer in Bavaria, now being in the Rheinland, Palatinate in Germany. While Conrad and his sister, Anna Marie, were still quite young, their father died, in the year of 1822. Soon their mother married a man by the name of John Henry Naegle, and to this union, John Conrad Naegle was born.

In 1831, when Conrad was 16 years of age, John brought Ottilia and the three children to America, settling in Rush County, Indiana. It was there that the missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found the little family. Conrad at once began an earnest study of the Gospel and readily joined the Church. His family was opposed to him joining the Church, but he was baptized August 26, 1844 by Domincus Carter.

As Conrad and his half-brother John worked together on the farm, Conrad taught the Gospel to John. They decided to journey to Nauvoo, hoping to see the Prophet Joseph Smith, but they were unable to see him, arriving in Nauvoo just after the martyrdom. However, the saints were determined to finish the construction of the Temple, and Conrad and John joined them in the building activities during the daytime, and the guarding of the property at night, which was necessary because of the mob activities and violence that was heaped upon the saints at that time.

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Conrad purchased a lot in Nauvoo and built a small log cabin, and it was to this that he brought his young wife, Elizabeth Malholm, a girl of German descent, but born in Pennsylvania. This young couple had been married on April 2, 1839. A daughter was born to them, but died at birth. Elizabeth had no other children. There is record that Conrad was a member of the 18th Quorum of Seventies in Nauvoo. Conrad and Elizabeth were endowed in the Nauvoo Temple on February 7, 1846.

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Conrad was among the first of the saints to cross over the Mississippi, and early in the year in 1846, he settled in Winter Quarters, where he built another temporary home. His half-brother, John, was called to join the Mormon Battalion. In 1847, at age 32, Conrad was enlisted in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company as a Scout, with Heber C. Kimball's group, to make the trek to the Rocky Mountains. The main group of the Company entered the Great Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

Conrad was one of the active colonizers in the building and expanding of Salt Lake City, and remained there until there were ten wards organized, he being counselor to Bishop Pettigrew of the Tenth Ward. He built a home and, with his wife, beautified the grounds and had shade and fruit trees growing. Then they were called to settle the small town of Lehi, south of Salt Lake. As they established their home in Lehi, they again put in trees and plants. Not long after moving to Lehi, Conrad was called to serve a mission to New York City.

Conrad and Anna Benz Kleinman

Conrad and Anna Benz Kleinman

Elizabeth, having had no other children, felt that Conrad should take another wife, or wives, following the practice of polygamy, that he might be blessed with a posterity, so with her consent and approval, he married two young emigrant girls from Switzerland. These marriages were solemnized in President Young's office, on February 8th, 1857. Anna Benz was sealed to Conrad by Heber C. Kimball and Mary Ann Germer by Daniel H. Wells.

Anna Benz was born in the little village of Wininger, near Zurich, Switzerland. She was one of four children of Heinrich Benz and his wife, Elizabeth Lang. Anna was the second child in the family and was born the 1st of June 1836. When the family heard the message of the Gospel, they were soon converted. Anna was baptized in April of 1854. Anna was then 18 years of age and her sister, Regula, was 15. Early the following year, they set sail for America, arriving in Utah in the year 1855. Mary Ann Germer was born December 10, 1839 in Hamburg, Germany. She was the third child of Johann Germer and Maria Faasch. Her parents had joined the Church in Germany in 1851 and emigrated to America. Elizabeth was like a mother to the new young wives of Conrad, and supervised much of their household activities. Anna gave birth to ten children, and Mary Ann had three children.

Conrad Kleinman's half-brother, John, came to settle in Lehi. The two families were happy to be together, John having married Anna's sister Regula as one of his seven wives. The settlement of Lehi had become a thriving location and the Kleinmans and Naegles were sad to leave it when the call came in 1861 for the two families to move and pioneer the rugged country of St. George. Mary Ann refused to go, having endured enough of the hardships of colonization, but she did let two of her children go with their father, and the rest of the family. Regula and her children went, thus she and Anna were able to continue with their close relationship as sisters.

The Kleinman and Naegle families settled in Toquerville, a small settlement near St. George, and again planted their orchards, vineyards, and gardens. After living in Toquerville a number of years, Conrad, having listened to favorable reports of life in Arizona, decided to travel to Arizona and have a look. He liked what he found, and decided to move the family down to the Mesa area.

It was decided to leave son David with Elizabeth to take care of the farm until they could be sent for. It took the group eight weeks of traveling to reach Mesa Arizona. In 1882 Maricopa Stake was created, and in 1884 the Alma Ward was created, with Conrad Kleinman serving as counselor to Bishop Oscar M. Stewart, and later as counselor to Bishop Alexander Hunsaker. Anna was called to serve as Relief Society President. David and Elizabeth had made the move down along with some other relatives, but Elizabeth didn't stay too long. She passed away shortly after moving back to Utah in Toquerville.

There were a few tragic happenings in the Kleinman family; the oldest son, Henry was killed when he was 33, by a runaway horse and buggy. Andrew, at the age of 16, was kicked in the face by a horse and was totally blinded from that. The youngest son, Orson was blinded in one eye from a gun explosion at the age of 14.

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As time passed, and the boys married and had their own families, Conrad and Anna went back to St. George and obtained a comfortable home close to the Temple and there they spent their last days. Anna's sister Regula lived with them at that time, and the three of them were ordinance workers at the Temple. As Conrad was returning from the Temple one day, he fell and broke his hip, an accident from which he never recovered. He passed away on November 12, 1906 and was buried in Toquerville. Anna passed away on December 8, 1908 and is buried in the family plot in Mesa.

Source: Excerpts from “Biography of Conrad Kleinman and Anna Benz, Utah Piooneers.” The histories of Conrad and Anna as written by their son, Orson, have been rewritten and edited, by Janell Nichols, great grand-daughter of Conrad.