One of my 3rd great grandfathers was James Holt. He married Mary Pain in Tennessee in 1830. She mothered 8 children in her young life, dying at age 30. I married at age 31. Our life paths have been different, but her blood flows in me and on this Memorial Day weekend, I honor her and my pioneer heritage.
I found this paragraph in her husband, James’ autobiography:
We traveled on up the Iowa River and all met five miles above Kitchen’s Settlement, which was the largest settlement at that time on the Iowa River. There my wife died, in October, and was buried. The doctors gave her a dose of lobelia when her stomach was too weak to take it, and it caused her death; and I must say I have ever since been opposed to anyone administering drugs. My wife left a child about two months old, which William Kartchner’s wife took to nurse. She died on the 10th of February 1845. I lost another child at this camp, above Kitchen’s Settlement. It was my oldest [living] son Leander. He died about a month after my wife, in the month of November. I must here state that I cannot give dates and particulars as I would wish, for in my moves I lost my journal and I have to tax my memory to a great extent, to remember even one hundredth part of all which I would like to relate.
I’ve spent a good deal of time this month gathering the descendants of James and Mary Holt. James remarried the next year and had 10 more children. His posterity is numerous. I’ve enjoyed learning more about these relations and the lives they lived.
As I’ve worked on this, that last line in James’s history has haunted me. I wish I could read all the things he would have liked to have told me, especially about his wife, Mary. I wish I knew what she looked like. I wonder what her daily life was like, what chores she had, what pleasures. Did she stitch or quilt? Did she sing to the babes on her knee? Did she garden or bake crusty bread? Where exactly is her unmarked grave?
“I have lost my journal. . . .” Those words cut me to the core. It’s a great loss, but on this Memorial Day weekend, I am grateful to have from his writings, “one hundredth part.”
Deseret News April 18, 1894 page 3
Teasdale, Wayne County, Utah,
April 9, 1894 – Not having seen a notice of the death of my father in your paper, I take the liberty of sending you a short sketch of his life.
James Holt was born Feb 10, 1804 in North Carolina. He was the son of James and Elizabeth Holt. His parents moved to Tennessee when he was six months old where they made a permanent home. My father received the gospel in the year 1839 and was baptized. In 1840 he emigrated to Nauvoo, where he became intimately acquainted with the Prophet Joseph. He was sent on a mission in the spring of 1844 to Tennessee, and was preaching on the day the Prophet was killed. He was filled with prophecy at the time and said: “Now they have murdered the prophet of God, he has sealed his testimony with his blood and my mission is ended for this time.” He immediately started home and on his way learned it was all too true. He left Nauvoo in the fall and suffered all the hardships of that trip. He stopped in Iowa until 1852, where he came to the valley and settled at North Ogden. He was counselor to Bishop Thomas Dunn for a number of years. He was one of the first to settle Ogden Valley, in 1862 he moved south and settled at Washington, and from there he went to Long Valley, and finely when the settlers were all run by the Indians, he went to the Mountain Meadows, finely settling at the mouth of the Meadow canyon, where he resided until his death. Which occurred on the 27 of January, 1894, he lacked a few days of being 90 years old.
He was honest as the day is long, and a staunch believer in the Gospel, and was always on hand to respond to every call made upon him. He was the father of nineteen children, some having gone before. He leaves a wife, nine children, many grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and a host of friends to mourning his loss. He had a great deal of work done in the St. George Temple for his dead.
W. A. Holt