Tunis Rappleye

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Question: What challenging experiences did Tunis Rappleye have after he joined the Church in 1832?

Answer: Tunis Rappleye was born to Margaret Tillier and John Ransom Rappleye in Ovid, Seneca County, New York on February 2, 1807. He was born into a family whose ancestral name was well known. The de Rapalye family, as it originally was called, first landed on the shores of America in 1623.

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Tunis was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on November 20, 1832, just two years after it was organized. He was the only member of his family who joined the church at that time. He moved to Kirtland, Ohio where he took part in the building of the temple. He was married to Louisa Elizabeth Cutler by the Prophet Joseph Smith in January 1836.

Because of the persecution, Tunis left Kirtland and moved to Missouri, where their first child, Emily Jane, was born on December 21, 1836 at Crooked River, Missouri. Life must have been very difficult for them, for they were always being torn from the roots they attempted to establish. Their next child, John Alpheus, was born on August 22, 1838, at Richmond, Ray County, Missouri. Due to the persecution in Missouri, Tunis and his family next moved to Illinois. Their next child, Laurette, was born in Houston, Adams County, Illinois. Yet another move, and Clarissa was born in 1842 and Ammon Llewellyn came along in 1844, both in Macedonia, Hancock, Illinois.

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The Prophet Joseph Smith had been killed in June 1844, and the new leader of the church, Brigham Young, made the decision to continue westward to a land where they would no longer be persecuted. Tunis Rappleye, now age 40, was appointed to be in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company, being a member of the fourth ten, of which Luke S. Johnson was captain. He drove one of Brigham Young’s teams, and after the arduous journey, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

The next month, in company with Shadrach Roundy, he returned to Winter Quarters to assist other members coming to the Salt Lake valley. He made several trips back and forth on this mission, assisting immigrants to the valley. He had left his wife in Carterville, Council Bluffs, Iowa, with their children. On one of his return trips, Tunis discovered that his wife had given birth to twins in 1848 named David and Harriet. Harriet died in 1850 at age two. One other child, Ezra Tunis Rappleye, was born in 1851 in Council Bluffs. Tunis finally was able to bring his wife and five children across the plains to Utah in the Henry Bryant Manning Jolley Company in the summer of 1852.

In 1853, they moved to Lehi, Utah, and Louisa died giving birth to the last of her nine children, another son, Edwin Richmond, born in February 1854. Louisa had lost three of her children: Emily, John, and Harriet.

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In May, 1854, Brigham Young concluded a treaty of peace with Chief Walker, and upon his return to Salt Lake City, he stopped at Lehi, the fourth of June, to hold a meeting as he desired to warn the people of possible future danger from the Indians. A wall was started around the city of Lehi and due to the size of the wall each family had to help build their separate part of the wall. During the summer and fall of 1854, work continued steadily on this undertaking, and while practically all parts of the wall were finished, Tunis Rappleye was the only man to complete fully his four rods to its full height. It served as an excellent defense and kept out marauders. The completed wall had a length of 7,425 feet of adobe around the city.

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A granddaughter of Tunis recorded that Tunis lived with, and worked for, Brigham Young for three years as gardener and handy man, and that he helped build the first house in Salt Lake City.

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Tunis married three other wives: Nancy Marvin (Riggs), Johanna Peterson, and Ann Staples. He had three children with Ann. He lived his last years with his oldest living son, Ammon, and died on December 25, 1883 in Kanosh, Millard, Utah. Tunis is buried in the Kanosh Cemetery.

Source: “Biography of Tunis Rappleye,” FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com