Tarlton Lewis

Question: What challenging experiences did Tarlton Lewis and his family have after they joined the Church in 1836?

Answer: Tarlton Lewis was born on May 18, 1805 in Pendleton District, South Carolina. He was the fourth of twelve children of Neriah Lewis and Mary Moss. When Tarlton was four years of age, the family moved to Kentucky, where Tarlton lived the next 24 years.

Tarlton married Malinda Gimlin on March 27, 1828 in Kentucky. After her marriage, family tradition says she never saw any of her family again, as they disapproved of the marriage.

Tarlton and Malinda had a large family of eight children, who were born in various locations as the family moved around the country. In October 1833, Tarlton took his wife Malinda and their two children and moved to Macoupin County, Illinois. Some of his brothers and sisters were already located there. His brother, Benjamin, had been converted to Mormonism and was able to convert both Tarlton and Malinda. Benjamin baptized them as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on July 25, 1836.

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Tarlton moved to Caldwell County, Missouri in 1837. He settled about 1/2 mile from Haun's Mill. His brother, David, was at Haun's Mill and had 80 acres. On October 28, 1839, a group of ten families, led by Joseph Young, arrived in Haun's Mill. They were on their way to Far West and stopped to rest their teams. Tarlton's brother, Benjamin, had brought his family with this group. At Haun's Mill, there were 23 families, but only seven wagons, so they couldn't leave immediately. On October 30, about 4 o'clock a group of 240 regulators and Missouri volunteers rode into the settlement. The raiders had blackened and painted their faces. They began firing without any warning. Tarlton took a bullet in his shoulder but managed to get away. David had ten bullet holes in his clothing, but was not wounded. Benjamin was killed, leaving his widow and six children.

The spring after the massacre, (1839) Tarlton was recovered enough to move his family to Quincy, Illinois. They didn't stay there long and in October of that year moved to Commerce, (Nauvoo) Illinois. At one time, the family, were in the Nauvoo 2nd Ward. In May 1839 Tarlton was ordained as a Seventy. In October 1839, Tarlton was ordained a High Priest by Joseph Smith. Tarlton was one of the men considered as body guards of the Prophet. The winter of 1841-42, Tarlton spent in the Wisconsin woods. He and nineteen others were called on a mission to cut wood for the Temple, the Nauvoo House, and for homes.

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In August 1842, Nauvoo was divided into ten wards. Tarlton Lewis was Bishop of the 4th Ward. He was set apart by Joseph and Hyrum Smith. They also ordained him a High Priest. He continued to be Bishop until the Saints left Nauvoo in 1846. Tarlton was also in the Nauvoo Legion. He was a second Lieutenant in the 2nd Company, 1st Battalion under Alva Tippetts. In May of 1841 he was promoted to Lieutenant. While in Nauvoo, Tarlton lived about two blocks from the Temple. Tarlton was then put in charge of the large cranes that were being used in building the Temple. On Saturday, May 24, 1845, the Capstone of the Nauvoo Temple was laid. The stone was lifted to its place by ten men, including Tarlton Lewis. When the Temple was far enough completed, Tarlton and Malinda took out their endowments on December 17, 1845. They were sealed on February 6, 1846.

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In 1846 most of the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo, Tarlton and Malinda were among them. They crossed the Mississippi and lived in a covered wagon with their 5 children. They then traveled across Iowa to Winter Quarters. In July 1846, Tarlton's oldest son, Samuel volunteered for the Mormon Battalion. In October 1846, Tarlton went back to Nauvoo, to help the remaining Saints leave the city. Tarlton and Malinda with their children spent the winter of 1846 at Winter Quarters. While they were there, they lost their seven- year-old son, Ed. Malinda had gone to the frozen river for water. He slipped and fell through the ice into the river.

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In the spring of 1847, Tarlton was asked to be in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company to search out a settlement in the West. Tarlton was one of the three captains of 50. He took care of the ox teams and was one of the foot hunters. They entered the Valley on July 24, 1847. Brigham Young remained in Salt Lake only a month before returning east. Before his departure, "he orchestrated a survey of the site, and the appointment of a presiding Bishop, Tarlton Lewis, the first Bishop of Salt Lake. Under the direction of Bishop Tarlton Lewis, the brethren of the valley continued their labors on the houses which were being erected in the stockade.” Tarlton had hoped to return to Winter Quarters and bring his family west, but stayed at Brigham Young’s request. Tarlton’s son, Samuel, who had been in the Mormon Battalion, made his way to the Great Salt Lake Valley by December of 1847.

Tarlton served as Bishop of the entire community for five months, until the city divided into several different wards. When they divided, Tarlton was Bishop of the North half of the old fort. In the fall of 1848, Tarlton led some men east to meet Brigham Young who was returning to the Valley. Malinda and the children were traveling with this group, and Tarlton was able to escort them into the Valley.

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The next year, Tarlton was among those called to settle a new town in southern Utah. George A. Smith led the settlers to Parowan. They were later called the Iron Mission. Tarlton was a Captain of 10 as they traveled. Parowan was laid out and slowly took shape. In February 1851, the camp was organized and divided into four Wards. Twenty-six lots on the west side were the Second Ward, and Tarlton Lewis was Bishop. Both Tarlton and Anson Call were also elected as Magistrates. Many of the settlers became discouraged in Parowan, and returned to Salt Lake City. By that first spring, only 25 men remained in Parowan. Tarlton was one that remained. After settling in, he sent for his family. In October 1854 Tarlton went to Salt Lake. He led 30 wagons to pick up newly arrived Saints. He and Phillip Klingensmith from Cedar City gathered 150 newly arrived Saints and took them to Parowan and Cedar City. Many of the Saints were Danish emigrants.

Tarlton and Malinda Lewis

Tarlton and Malinda Lewis

While exploring the surrounding territory, rich deposits of lead and iron were found in the mountains. In November 1858, Tarlton, William Barton, and Isaac Grundy took ore specimens to Brigham Young, and they were asked to open the mines and to locate a settlement nearby. Minersville was settled in May 1859. Tarlton and Malinda lived in Minersville for about 14 years. In 1873, they and several of their children's families and others were called to Joseph City, Utah. Here they lived in the United Order for a few years. When the United Order broke up in 1877, the family moved to Richfield, Sevier County.

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In 1877 Tarlton was called to be Bishop of the 2nd Ward in Richfield. He was set apart in July 1877 by Erastus Snow and Orson Hyde. Ill health forced him to resign. He was then set apart as patriarch of the Sevier Stake by Wilford Woodruff. Again ill health forced him to resign. Around 1885, their son Beason came and took his parents to his home near Teasdale, Wayne, Utah. Tarlton died in his sleep on November 22, 1890 at the age of 85. He was buried in the Teasdale Cemetery. Malinda died on June 5, 1894 in Richfield, and was buried in the Richfield City Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “Life Sketch of Tarlton Lewis,” FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com