Francis Lee (1811-1866)

A sketch of the life of Francis Lee and Family


At Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio, on June 30, 1811, Francis Lee was born.  He was one of the family of eight children, son of Samuel Lee, grandson of William Lee.

Of his boyhood days we have no record, but in 1832, when he was twenty-one years old, he and Jane Vail Johnson (who afterwards became his wife) joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Randolph County, Indiana.  Soon after joining the church, they with others, were driven to the state of Missouri, where on October 24, 1835, Francis Lee and Jane Vail Johnson were married.

At Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, near famous Liberty Jail, their eldest child, William Henry Lee was born, August 9, 1836.

From Liberty they went with other persecuted Saints to Far West, Caldwell County, where on April 25, 1838, Electra Jane Lee (Edwards) was born.  Persecution was then raging heavily against the Saints and on October 27th of this year the Extermination Order of Governor Boggs was issued.  In the depths of one of the most severe winters ever known there, 14,000 souls, among them Grandfather Lee and family were driven from their homes.  They found refuge in Adams County, Illinois at a little town called Payson.  Here two other boys were added to the family, Samuel Marion, born 28 January 1840, and John Nelson, born, November 17, 1841.  In the fall of 1843 the family was located at Nauvoo, the beautiful city of the Saints and here George Washington Lee was born, April 28, 1844.  Jane Vail Johnson and Francis Lee took out their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on January 22, 1846.

The following June, Grandfather witnessed the martyrdom of the Prophet and his brother.  Early in January 1846 at a council meeting held in the Temple, it was decided to leave Illinois and on February 4th, the Saints began crossing the Mississippi River on their journey westward.  The Saints left in companies and on June 14, 1846 Grandfather with 225 others arrived at the Missouri River, where a large ferryboat was built.  Soon after the Saints began crossing the river.

Next we find the family located in Jamestown, Andrew County, Missouri and on November 13, 1846, Francis Columbus Lee was born and on December 19, 1848 Jacob Edward was born.

Early in 1850, they reached the Platt River at a placed called Platteville, where they crossed and on June 13th, they took up their march again.  That very night cholera broke out in their camp. Several of them died, among them Jacob Edward Lee. They were buried on the banks of the Platt River.

While camped at the Missouri River the family was joined by Great-Grandfather Samuel Lee.  He had left his company and started to walk to the California gold fields but here he joined with the rest of them and crossed the plains with his son in the company of James Pace and David Bennett.

Salt Lake City was reached on September 17, 1850 and on the 26th of this month they located to Tooele.  This was their home for several years.  On December 4th of this year Mary Eliza Lee (Atchinson) was born.

The next event of importance was the baptism of Great-Grandfather Samuel Lee in the spring of 1851.  Tooele was the birthplace of three other children, Milton Lafayette, born February 4, 1853, Arthur Orson on June 27, 1856 and Louisa Juliette, born January 12, 1859.

After 11 years residence in Tooele, Grandfather Lee’s name was first on the list of names called to settle the Dixie Country.  Their first home was at Santa Clara.  In 1863 the youngest of the family died and was buried at St. George, Utah.  Early in 1864 they moved to St. George but their stay was short, for in two weeks they answered a call to settle a new, and then, Indian Territory.

On May 4, 1864 they reached Panaca.  Samuel F. Lee, a nephew of Grandfather’s, accompanied them.

In 1864, the old fort was built on a lot now owned by Frank Edwards.  Electra Jane Lee had married George W. Edwards before coming to Panaca and William H. Edwards has the distinction of being the first white child born in Lincoln County, Nevada, his birthplace being Clover Valley, and Frank Edwards was the first white child born at Panaca.

The first summer of their sojourn here, the lots now owned by Aunts Mary and Jane Lee were broken up and planted.  Potatoes, corn and bout 30 bushels of wheat were harvested that fall.  This wheat, which was thrashed by hand, was taken to the Parowan Mill by John W. Lee and was the first flour to be had since the Lees settled in Panaca.

The Indians were a great hindrance to the settlers.  On one occasion Grandmother Lee was forced to defend herself and three children from several treacherous Red Men.  Several of them were killed before peace was again enjoyed in the little fort.  Only two years did Grandfather survive in his new home, for on July 7, 1866, he passed away and after 9 years of hard work and heroic endurance, Grandmother followed him July 10, 1875.  With the death of Electra Jane Lee Edwards, eight years ago, passed the last member of the family of Francis and Jane V. Lee, but a numerous posterity lives to perpetuate their sacred memory.