Joseph Henry James (1855 - 1908)

HOME SELECT A BIOGRAPHY Elizabeth Salome Bloomfield James

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   By Beatrice James Nelson

         Elizabeth Salome Bloomfield, the daughter of Harriet Wilkinson  and John Bloomfield, was born September 17, 1861, at Hyde Park, Cache county, Utah. Harriet was born   July 4, 1839 at Chediston, Suffolk England. John was born May 2, 1831. 

John left England May 4, 1856 and came to Chanceville, New Jersey, where he met Harriet Wikinson, who came from Wisssett Suffolk England with her parents to New Jersey.  Thirty seven families were told to stay there until President Brigham Young sent for them.  They were also to raise money to buy a team and supplies for the trip West.   

It was here in Chanceville, New Jersey that John met Harriet.  They were married November 11, 1857.  They stayed in Chanceville three years.  Their first child, a daughter, Ellen Maria, was born October 10, 1858.  One year later they moved to Omaha, Nebraska to prepare to go to Utah.  While here, Ellen Maria died, October 14, 1859, and was buried at Omaha, Nebraska. 

After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, they went north, and settled in Hyde Park in the Fall of 1860.  It was here that Elizabeth Salome was born September 17, 1861.  Another girl Mary Eliza was born January 21,  1864 and a son, John Parley William, was born January 2, 1868. John and Harriet were sealed in the Salt Lake Endowment House November 14, 1862.  When Elizabeth was 7 years old her mother died, January 2, 1868, leaving John with three young children to raise. 

On January 11, 1869, Elizabeth's father, John, married a widow, Elizabeth Ann Barton Ashcroft, who had three sons.   Elizabeth had several half brothers and sisters come to join the family.  With Elizabeth Ashcroft's three son's and three more born to Elizabeth and John; Joseph W., November 17, 1869, Richard, March 6, 1873, and Harriet Martha, in July 1875, there were nine children for John to feed.  They lived in Hyde Park until 1875, when they were called to help colonize Arizona.

When Elizabeth Salome was 14 years old her father and step-mother were called by Brigham Young, along with other families, to help colonize and establish a community in Arizona.  They sold their home and left Hyde Park with all their earthly belongings in a wagon box pulled by a team of horses.  The first place they settled was called Obed, later called Meadow.  From there they went to Brigham City, near Winslow, Arizona.  Then in 1877 they went on to Sunset, which was a few miles away, across the little Colorado River.  Here the pioneers built a fort or stockade, and each family had a small room as their own living area.  They were under the leadership of Lott Smith.

While living in sunset, Elizabeth met Joseph Henry James, a young man from Ogden, Utah.  She was not quite 16 years old and he was 19 years old. They decided to get married and left Sunset about the middle of June, 1877, together with two other couples, with a team and wagon to go to the St. George temple to be married. The trip took about a month each way across many miles of hot desert, but they were happy because they were young and going to be married.

            When they reached Lee's Ferry at the crossing of the Colorado River the ferry was on the other side of the river, and the travelers couldn't attract anyone's attention.  Without telling anyone  Joseph went up the river and started to swim the cold treacherous stream.  When Elizabeth saw him in the water, she fired one shot to alert the others, then fainted.  Joe was able to reach the other side before he was swept past the landing, and the ferry was brought over so the travelers could cross and continue their journey.  Joseph and Elizabeth were married in the St. George Temple July 12, 1877, and their honeymoon was the long trip back to Sunset through heat, sand and sagebrush. 

Their first baby, a girl, was born October 2, 1878, and they gave her the name Sarah Elizabeth. On June 1, 1880, Harriet Emma was born, and then on December 19, 1882, baby Maggie arrived.  It wasn't long before sorrow came to their humble home.  Maggie was taken from them; she died February 20, 1884.  Not long after this the family moved to Wilford, Arizona, another pioneer settlement in the mountains.  In Wilford another daughter, Alfretta, blessed their home October 11,1891. 

Joseph had married Elizabeth's younger sister Eliza on June 10, 1878 and Orpha Rogers on September 12, 1882 both marriages   in the St. George Temple.  In 1885 conditions became worse for those living polygamy, and they were informed by letter from the church authorities that they were to prepare to seek refuge outside the United States so they could keep their families together.  Lott and Jesse Smith had returned from Mexico and informed the settlers to flee with their wives and children to Snowflake, Arizona; and there to prepare for their flight into Mexico. 

What a hard thing it must have been for them to once again move, and to a country where they didn't know the language or customs of the people they would live amongst.  To take their little children on the long trip through unknown country to an unknown destination must have tried their faith.  But since they were faithful to their church and leaders, they made ready to do as they were instructed. 

Joseph and Sarah had three children at this time, the oldest seven years old, the baby one year.  They left behind forever the little grave of Baby Maggie.  The sister wives of Elizabeth had children also, Eliza three children, and Orpha one child.  The parents of Elizabeth and Eliza had moved in 1882 to help colonize the town of Ramah New Mexico.

Under the leadership of Lott and Jesse Smith, the exiles left Snowflake on February 9, 1885.  Joseph was captain over ten wagons.  The roads were "awful" over muddy valleys across snowy hills and mountains.  They had a lot to endure, riding in cold jolting wagons, walking as the wagons were pulled over dangerous places, cooking over open fires, working in mud and snow, babies with wet diapers and clothes to change and wash.  I often wonder how they ever managed to do all that was necessary under such trying conditions.  What great faith they must have had to endure and always remain faithful.  It was a long month of travel.  (For more details of the journey, see History of Joseph H. James.) 

They arrived in Mexico and set up camp in tents, wagons, and dugouts until they could obtain a more permanent place to live.  After a time they were able to obtain land where they could build a town, and they named it Colonia Diaz.  They all went to work clearing land, digging ditches, planting crops, and making adobe bricks to build homes.  Everyone old enough helped, including the women and children. 

It is believed that they named the town after President Diaz who had allowed the Saints to stay after the Governor of Chihuahua had ordered them to leave shortly after they had arrived.  Later, after they left Mexico in 1912, the town was burned to the ground by rebels.  It had been a very nice prosperous town with nice homes surrounded by gardens and orchards.  When I was there in 1992, there was nothing left of the town except trees along the river.  Every brick, even the grave markers, had been carried off--not a thing left to show where the Saints had buried their departed love ones. 

In November of that year, while still living in a dugout, baby Hannah was born, November 9, 1886, to Elizabeth.  She was said to be the first baby born in Mexico to the Saints.  One day while they were sitting outside the dugout, Elizabeth asked Joe to bring the baby out.  Joe asked, "Why? she isn't crying"  Elizabeth again said, "Bring her out."  Joe had just got outside with her when the roof of the dugout caved in covering everything with dirt. 

It was a rugged life-- no medical help within sixty miles, no stores-- they raised their own food, made clothing, shoes, soap etc.  Elizabeth sewed the tops of the shoes and Joe the soles.  They raised grain, built flour mills, planted orchards, and life got a little easier.  Five more children were born to them while living in Colonia Diaz; Bathsheba, November 13, 1888, Joseph Henry Jr., December 8, 1889, Lott, March 6, 1892, Edith, March 14, 1894, and Walter, November 11, 1896.  Lott died when he was fourteen months old. 

The family moved to Casas Grandes where they operated a store.  It was here that Ethel was born August 11, 1899.  Naomi was born  December 16, 1902 while they were living in Colonia Dublan.  They then moved up in the mountains, and Ruth was born June 8, 1905 to them in Hernandez.  Here they had timberland and gardens and raised pigs, cattle and poultry.  Joe built a nice home for each wife about a block apart.  (For more details of their life in Mexico, see history of their daughter, Edith Ostler.)

In August of 1907, Edward was born.  I'm sure they were happy to have another boy, but their happiness was not to last very long. The baby died when he was about seven months old.  The sad family buried him on the hill at the top of the orchard. 

At that time Joe told Elizabeth that he would soon follow the baby.  He was killed in an accident at the saw mill three weeks later.  He died  April 25, 1908.  A short time before it happened his son, Joseph Jr., saw him killed in a dream.  Joe Jr. was there when the accident happened, and he said it was exactly as he had seen it in his dream.  (Joe Jr. was my father, and I heard the story from him and also from my grandmother, Elizabeth.)  It was against the law to remove the bodies (a Mexican worker was also killed) until the Mexican authorities got there, and they couldn't get to the mountains until the next day.  Joe Jr. and his half brother Willard stayed with the bodies on the mountain all night and the next day until the authorities came. 

Elizabeth wanted him buried in Colonia Dublan, but it was the law that he had to be buried in the first available cemetery.  When they made the 35 mile trip in the wagon down the mountain, Colonia Juarez was the first place they came to, so he was buried there in the Mormon section of the Mexican cemetery.  What a terrible time this was for all of Joseph's family.  Elizabeth had fourteen  children,  Mary Eliza also had fourteen children, and Orpha had seven.  Orpha had buried three children, Elizabeth three children and Mary Eliza two children.  Orpha died two years after Joe and is buried in Colonia Dublan. 

Elizabeth had seven children still at home, the others were married.  She continued to live in Mexico until July, 1912, when they were forced to leave their homes again, with no clothes except what they had on.  A mistake was made when they had to leave on short notice.  They thought they were allowed two trunks, then found they could only take one, and in the hurry and confusion, left the one that had their clothes in it. 

They traveled by wagon part way, then were put on the last train out.  Edith James and some of the others had typhoid fever.  They were packed in the train like cattle with no food or water until they arrived in El Paso, Texas.  The train stopped after each bridge was crossed and the bridge was blown up. 

In El Paso, they were taken to an abandoned lumber yard with a tin roof.  It was very hot and water was brought to them in barrels, but they had to be very careful how they used it.  Edith  said she would stay in the make shift-bed while her mother washed and dried her clothes.  They were there for three weeks, and the people from town would come and stare at them.  They asked where their horns were, and Edith and a half brother who were guarding the water barrel told them "The old ones cut theirs off and the young one's haven't grown any yet."  They became very upset suffering in the heat and having people staring at them like they were freaks.

Finally , they were put on a train for Utah.  Elizabeth was given five dollars for food to last them until they reached their destination, which was Spring City, Sanpete County, where some of Elizabeth's family lived.  They found a small one room place which had no windows, and that is where they made their home.  While living in Spring City, three of the children married.  Edith married Jonathan Ostler, and lived in Nephi, then Lindyl, and then moved to Provo.  About 1918 or 1919 Elizabeth moved to Provo and lived in two rooms of Edith's home.  This is where she was living when I first knew her. 

In 1922 my mother died in Binghampton, Arizona (now part of Tucson).  She died in February, and in March my Grandmother Elizabeth came to take care of us six motherless children.  I was the oldest at ten years old and the baby was two months.  We had a one room adobe home with a tin roof, unlined, with a rough board floor, and lean-to with a dirt floor.  The water had to be carried in from the well.  Water for washing was heated on a fire outside and all clothing was washed on a washboard.  It was very hot there, and I am sure it was very hard for her; but she never complained.  She was very good to us and did her best to be a mother to us all. 

At the end of August, she took us back to Provo on the train.  The trip was hot and dirty, the open windows allowing soot and cinders to blow in.  I remember the train stopped in Yuma for twenty minutes and the heat was unbearable.  I am certain that my grandmother suffered more than me, in her long black dress, holding the baby, and caring for the other little ones three and five  years old.  There was another long stop in Colton, California; but we finally arrived in Provo at Aunt Edith's house. 

We lived in two rooms with two Aunts, Grandma, and six of us kids.  After a time we moved to two rooms in my Aunt Bash (Bathsheba) and Uncle Wallace's home  My father had remained in Arizona, but in December, Baby Lorin had a bad case of pneumonia.  The doctor said he couldn't live, so my father came to Provo.  By then Grandma and her two daughters, Ruth and Naomi, who were still at home, had rented a house, so we had more room.  Grandmother had experience treating pneumonia with home remedies, and she was able to cure Lorin. 

My father, Joe, went back to sell the farm and cattle then returned to stay.  At times he had two jobs.  He worked for the city during the day and cooked at Elliot's Cafe at night.  Grandmother Elizabeth continued to care for us through chicken pox, measles, and mumps.  I am sure all the work of taking care of us wore her out. 

In December, 1923, Grandmother had a heart attack during the night.  She told me the next day,  "I wouldn't still be here if Naomi hadn't carried on so last night, she kept me here."  As I remember Naomi, she was a very selfish person, never wanting to help her mother.  She was always cross with us kids and our friends.  She had a job at the bakery, but went out almost every night to have a good time.  None of Elizabeth's daughters were like her.  My Aunts, Edith, Bash, and Hannah helped  their mother as much as they could, and they had big families of their own.  They helped with food from their gardens and made clothes for us.

Grandma Elizabeth died December 11, 1923 of pneumonia, a week after the heart attack, and was buried in the Provo cemetery.  I will be forever greatful to my dear grandmother for her loving care of us all. 

Written April, 1996,  by:                   Beatrice James Nelson, Daughter of Joseph Henry James, Jr. 

Minor Editing Jan., 1997, by:               LaVon Gurr Hansen, Granddaughter of Elizabeth James


HOME SELECT A BIOGRAPHY Elizabeth Salome Bloomfield James

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