ALEXANDER SCOBY STANDLEY

BY MARY ELLEN KERR GEE

 

ALEXANDER SCOBY STANDLEY WAS THE SON OF RICHARD AND ELIZA STOLTZ STANDLEY.  HE WAS BORN 12 MAY 1800 IN NEW BRUNSWICK, MIDDLESEX, NEW JERSEY. THE FAMILY MOVED TO PORTAGE COUNTY, OHIO, WHERE HE MET AND MARRIED PHILINDA UPSON STANDLEY, DAUGHTER OF FREEMAN AND SARAH CULVER UPSON, BORN 1 AUGUST 1814 IN PORTAGE CO., OHIO.

 

THEY WERE PARENTS OF ELEVEN CHILDREN: ELIZA, FRANKLIN, ELLEN, MARTHA, ALEXANDER HENRY, ELIZABETH, CYRENE, PHILINDA, SARAH, LYDIA, AND MICHAEL.

 

LITTLE IS KNOWN OF THEIR EARLY LIVES.  ALEXANDER HAD NO OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND SCHOOL, BUT STUDIED AT HOME AND BECAME A SUCCESSFUL TEACHER.  PHILINDA WAS SKILLED IN ALL THE HOME-MAKING ARTS.  IN 1847 A MORMON  MISSIONARY CAME TO THEIR FARM HOME IN OHIO. THEY WERE MOURNING THE DEATH OF THEIR FIRST CHILD, ELIZA. SHE HAD NOT BEEN CHRISTENED AND, ACCORDING TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE DAY, WAS DOOMED TO ETERNAL PUNISHMENT. THE GOSPEL MESSAGE BROUGHT COMFORT AND THE PARENTS WERE BAPTIZED SOON AFTER AND BROTHER STANDLEY WAS MADE PRESIDENT OF THE SMALL BRANCH.

 

IN 1838, THEY, WITH OTHERS, SOLD THEIR HOME AND JOURNEYED TO FAR WEST MO. ONLY TO LEARN THAT THE SAINTS HAD BEEN DRIVEN OUT IN THE FACE OF AN ARMED MOB, AND THEIR PROPERTY CONFISCATED.  THE PROPHET JOSEPH HAD BEEN CHAINED TO FOUR OF HIS COMPANIONS AND CARTED CROSS-COUNTRY TO THE FILTH OF LIBERTY JAIL. ENEMIES WERE EVERYWHERE. THE STANDLEY FAMILY CROSSED THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO THE VERY NEW CITY, NAUVOO.  HERE A LOG HOUSE WAS FINISHED IN TIME FOR THE BIRTH OF THEIR SEVENTH CHILD, CYRENE (MY GRANDMOTHER), 1 MAY 1840. SHE WAS BLESSED BY JOSEPH SMITH, SR. WHO ALSO GAVE HER FATHER A PATRIARCHAL BLESSING, HE BEING THE FIRST PATRIARCH IN THIS, THE LAST DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIME.

 

GREAT GRANDMOTHER WAS A MEMBER OF THE NAUVOO RELIEF SOCIETY AND PARTICIPATED IN THE MANY ACTIVITIES WHICH THE PROPHET ASSIGNED TO THE SISTERS. THERE WAS MUCH SICKNESS AND POVERTY. CONVERTS FROM MANY LANDS WERE ARRIVING ALMOST DAILY, HOPING TO FIND HOMES AND OPPORTUNITIES TO PROVIDE FOR THEMSELVES. IN ADDITION TO ALL THESE THE MEMBERS OF THE RELIEF SOCIETY WERE TO GIVE EVERY POSSIBLE ASSISTANCE TO THOSE WHO WERE WORKING ON THE TEMPLE, AND TO HAVE CONCERN WITH THE MORAL CONDITIONS IN THE FAST GROWING CITY. ON MANY OCCASIONS THE PROPHET COUNSELED THE SISTERS TO HONOR THEIR HUSBANDS AND TO "PROVOKE THEM TO GOOD WORKS."

 

THE FAMILY SHARED THE GREAT SORROW OF THE THOUSANDS OF SAINTS IN THE MARTYRDOM OF THEIR BELOVED PROPHET, JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHER HYRUM. THEY WERE PRESENT IN THE MEETING WHEN SIDNEY RIGDON ATTEMPTED TO BECOME LEADER OF THE CHURCH. THROUGHOUT HER LIFE GREAT GRANDMOTHER BORE TESTIMONY THAT BRIGHAM YOUNG REALLY SPOKE WITH THE VOICE OF THE PROPHET AND GREATLY RESEMBLED HIM IN APPEARANCE.  MY GRANDMOTHER, CYRENE, THOUGH ONLY FOUR YEARS OF AGE, LOOKED UP AT HER PARENTS AND SAID, "THE PROPHET IS NOT DEAD".

 

THE YEAR 1846 SAW TWENTY THOUSAND MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH DRIVEN FROM THEIR BEAUTIFUL CITY OF NAUVOO AND ITS SHINING TEMPLE.  WICKED MOBS BURNED THE HOMES, DESTROYED PROPERTY, LEAVING DEATH AND RUIN ON EVERY HAND. THE STANDLEY FAMILY SHARED THESE DARK AND TRAGIC DAYS WITH THE THOUSANDS WHO HOPED TO FIND A HAVEN OF PEACE FAR FROM THE PERSECUTION OF SATAN'S HOSTS.

 

GREAT GRANDFATHER WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED WHEN HE WAS STRUCK BY A FALLING TREE BUT THROUGH THE FAITH AND PRAYERS OF HIS FAMILY AND HIS FRIENDS HIS HEALTH WAS PARTIALLY RESTORED.  HIS GREATEST DESIRE WAS TO LIVE TO SEE HIS FAMILY ESTABLISHED IN COMFORT IN THE DISTANT AND UNKNOWN WEST.

 

THAT THE ORGANIZATION AND DIRECTION OF THIS HISTORIC TREK WAS THE WORK OF A MASTER MIND, DIVINELY INSPIRED, NO ONE CAN QUESTION. THE FIRST COMPANIES ESTABLISHED TEMPORARY SETTLEMENTS, BUILT HOMES, AND PLANTED CROPS FOR THOSE WHO CAME LATER.  AT THE SAME TIME PREPARED FOR THEIR LONG AND HAZARDOUS JOURNEY TO A NEW HOME IN THE VALLEYS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

 

THE STANDLEY FAMILY WAS GENEROUS IN SHARING WITH OTHERS. THEY GAVE A TEAM OF HORSES FOR THE WAGON WHICH HELD THE PRECIOUS CHURCH RECORDS. ON ONE OCCASION APOSTLES EZRA TAFT BENSON AND GEORGE A SMITH NEEDED ONE MORE ANIMAL TO COMPLETE THEIR OUTFIT. BROTHER STANDLEY GAVE ONE OF THEIR COWS. APOSTLE SMITH SAID, "BROTHER ALEXANDER, YOU SHALL BE BLESSED TENFOLD."  THIS PROMISE WAS FULFILLED IN LESS THAN A YEAR. HE AND HIS SONS PLANTED A LARGE CROP OF CORN.  IT YIELDED ABUNDANTLY.

 

THE PRICE WAS UNUSUALLY HIGH ON ACCOUNT OF THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH. WHEN THEY BEGAN THEIR FINAL TREK THEY HAD TWENTY COWS AND CALVES.  THESE WERE DRIVEN BY THE MOTHER AND DAUGHTERS WHILE THE MEN FOLKS TOOK CARE OF THE THREE WAGON TEAMS. MY GRANDMOTHER WAS TWELVE YEARS OLD AND WALKED ALL THE LONG WAY.  HAVING THE COWS THEY WERE MORE FORTUNATE THAN MANY OTHERS. THE MILK WAS KEPT IN A WOODEN CHURN. AT NIGHT THE BUTTER WAS STRAINED OUT AND SAVED FOR THE JONNY CAKE BREAKFAST.

 

THEY REACHED THE VALLEY IN SEPTEMBER 1852 AND LIVED THE FIRST WINTER IN A DUGOUT AND THE WAGONS.  IN THE SPRING A COMFORTABLE HOME WAS BUILT IN BOUNTIFUL. APOSTLE SMITH'S BLESSING SEEMED TO CONTINUE. THEY WERE PROSPEROUS IN THEIR FIELDS AND HERDS. EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY WAS ASSIGNED A DEFINITE TASK. THE MOTHER AND DAUGHTERS MADE BUTTER AND CHEESE TO SELL.  THE GIRLS WERE ALSO TAUGHT ANIMAL HUSBANDRY AS WELL AS ALL PIONEER ARTS: SPINNING, WEAVING, DRESS-MAKING, TAILORING. THE YOUNGEST SON, MICHAEL, RECALLS SEEING THE MOTHER AT THE LOOM, THE THREE SISTERS AT THE SPINNING WHEEL, AND OTHERS IN THE KITCHEN WHERE A QUILT HAD BEEN SET UP.  IT WAS A BUSY BEEHIVE WITH THE MOTHER QUEEN OVERSEEING IT ALL.

 

AFTER TWO SHORT YEARS IN THE VALLEY ALEXANDER STANDLEY PASSED AWAY, LEAVING HIS FAMILY WELL PROVIDED FOR. THE WORK WENT ON AS USUAL. THE MOTHER CARRIED OUT THE PLAN WHICH THE FATHER HAD MADE EARLY IN THEIR MARRIED LIVES: THAT EACH CHILD SHOULD SPEND SOME TIME IN STUDY EVERY DAY.

 

WHEN MY GRANDMOTHER, CYRENE, AT THE AGE OF SIXTEEN MARRIED MARRINER W. MERRILL, HER DOWERY WAS REGARDED AS MOST UNUSUAL. SHE HAD TWO COWS, SOME SHEEP, HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES AND SEVERAL SMALL PARCELS OF LAND - A FOUNDATION FOR THEIR PIONEERING IN RICHMOND AND IN CACHE VALLEY.  GRANDFATHER HAD LITTLE SCHOOLING SO GRAND-MOTHER BECAME HIS TEACHER, THUS HELPING HIM TO BECOME QUALIFIED FOR MANY CHURCH POSITIONS THAT CAME TO HIM.

 

HE WAS A MEMBER OF THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES AND FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE LOGAN TEMPLE, WHICH POSITION HE HELD AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH.

 

AS THE YEARS PASSED, GRANDMOTHER GAVE THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO MEMBERS OF HER FAMILY AND WAS FREE TO SHARE THE LIVES OF HER CHILDREN AS SHE DESIRED. SHE KEPT A HOME FOR THE YOUNGEST SON THAT HE MIGHT PROVE UP A HOMESTEAD IN LEWISTON, UTAH.  HER LAST YEARS WERE SPENT WITH HER DAUGHTERS, TWO OF WHOM LIVED IN RICHMOND:  CYRENE MERRILL AND LYDIA _____,  AT WHOSE HOME SHE PASSED AWAY.

 

I REMEMBER GRANDMOTHER VERY WELL. SHE WAS ALWAYS NEATLY DRESSED - A SNOWY WHITE DRESS AND APRON.  HER WAVY HAIR AND PINK CHEEKS GAVE HER A GIRLISH CHARM.  HER PATRIARCHAL BLESSING SAID SHE WOULD BE CHANGED IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE.  MY MOTHER, ELLA MERRILL KERR, WAS WITH HER AT THE TIME OF HER PASSING. SHE AWAKENED FROM A LONG PEACEFUL SLEEP, SMILED AT MOTHER AND MURMURED "I AM READY NOW."  A BEAUTIFUL ENDING FOR A LONG LIFE OF FAITH AND DEVOTION TO HER CHURCH AND HER FAMILY. SHE DIED 27 JANUARY 1892 AT RICHMOND, UTAH.