Tarlton Lewis History
Early Church Membership Records
Tarlton Lewis, son of Neriah Lewis and Mary Moss, was born 18 May 1805 in Pendleton District, South Carolina. His parents and the family left South Carolina and settled in Kentucky when Tarlton was about five years old. When Tarlton was a small boy, he was afraid of ghosts. He had to bring in the cow and it was usually dark before they were gathered in; so he told his father he didn't want to go after the cows. "Well", said his father, "the next time you see a ghost - I tell you what you do. Pick up a big stick and walked right up to the thing and hit it hard and you will never be scared agin." Tarlton had always loved and obeyed his father - so one night he saw a ghost through the big trees in the forest. His first impulse was to run, then he remembered what his father had told him. He found a big stick and with trembling hands and shaking knees, he walked right up to the ghost. There stood one of the old milk cows with a white calf walking around her. It was a lesson Tarlton never forgot and he was never afraid of ghosts anymore.
The growing up years of Tarlton Lewis were on his father's farm in Simpson County, Kentucky. Tarlton and his brothers were big men and they learned the value of work while they were young. It is related that the Lewis brothers cut six to eight loads of wood per day. Two of these Lewis brothers, Tarlton and Beason, were so proficient with their axes they were jokingly called "Saw Mills."
Tarlton grew up, fell in love, and married Malinda Gimlin. They were marred 27 March 1828. She was born 27 March 1811 in Burksville, Cumberland County, Kentucky, daughter of Samuel Gimlin and Elizabeth Moore. Tarlton and Malinda were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS 25 July 1836 by Benjamin Lewis, his brother. Just prior to the birth of their 3rd child, Beason, who was born 19 July 1836, they moved to Macoupin County, Illinois. Tarlton and family lived in Caldwell County, Missouri in 1838. He and two of his brothers, Benjamin and David, had come to Missouri with the Saints. Tarlton was wounded at the Haun's Mill Massacre. His brother, Benjamin, was killed. Tarlton was wounded in the shoulder and he carried the bullet to his grave. Despite this shocking tragedy, the two surviving brothers never lost faith in the Gospel. In October 1839, Tarlton and family, moved to Commerce, later called Nauvoo, Illinois. Tarlton was set apart as Bishop of the Nauvoo 4th Ward by the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. He also helped build the Nauvoo Temple, where he and Malinda received their endowments on the 17th of December 1845 and were sealed for time and eternity on the 6th of February 1846. They left almost immediately afterward for Winter Quarters, where they and the Saints suffered much from cold and hunger. In April 1847 Tarlton left his family camped in wagons at Winter Quarters and started West with Brigham Young's Company, as one of the original pioneers. He was asked to be Captain over fifty wagons. He took care of the ox teams and other jobs along the trail. They arrived in Salt Lake Valley, 24 July 1847. Tarlton was to act as Bishop of Salt Lake City, a position which he held until the Saints were organized into five wards. Later Tarlton was asked to serve as 2nd Counselor to Bishop Edward Hunter of the 13th Ward.
In 1848 Tarlton went back to Winter Quarters to meet the immigrants. He found his family just as he had left them and he brought them back to Utah with him. In 1850 Tarlton accompanied George A. Smith to Iron County , where they settled Parowan and Tarlton was soon made Bishop of that town. In 1858 Tarlton Lewis, Isaac Grundy, Jesse N. Smith and William Barton were sent to explore Beaver Valley. While working in this territory they discovered rich deposits of lead and iron in the mountains. Specimens were taken to Brigham Young, which caused quite a bit of excitement. These men were asked to open the mines and lay out a townsite and Minersville was settled in 1859. One of the first families to arrive in the new town was Samuel Lewis, Tarlton's oldest son.
An excerpt from a speech given by Bishop Tarlton Lewis in Parowan, Utah just prior to the Mountain Meadow Massacre-Bishop Lewis then reviewed the remarks of the previous speaker, who was Lot Smith, and said this - "All good and for good - all the scenes that Brother Lot has recounted I shared in Missouri. My brother was killed in Missouri and I am alive to avenge his blood when the Lord wills. The second time I heard a Mormon preach he declared, holding up a book of Mormon, that this is a record of the Red Men and God's dealing with their forefathers, and that one day we should carry this book to the Indians. We are now living among them to carry this work to them. We must treat them like children to quit their savage ways. Shall we have no opportunities? We shall. No conquest without a struggle; no victory without a fight. Be diligent and faithful and patient and the Lord will reward you when you have been proved. Ephraim is the battle ax of the Lord. May we not have been sent to learn how to use this ax with skill."
Tarlton married Elizabeth Carson who was born 10 August 1833 in St. Clair, Alabama. She was the daughter of Samuel Carson and Eliza Jane Adair. Elizabeth's first husband was David Lewis, Tarlton's brother. David Lewis died 5 September 1855 leaving Elizabeth with two young daughters. She married Tarlton Lewis about 1856 and they had two sons, Benjamin and William David. Tarlton Lewis and Elizabeth Carson separated and she married Neils Otto Martensen. Tarlton married Jane Pearce about 1857. Her birth place is not known but she lived in Parowan, Utah. She and Tarlton had two sons; they later separated. Tarlton Lewis and Malinda Gimlin were blessed with eight children.
In 1850 Tarleton had a household of 6, with a real wealth of $600, and no personal wealth. In 1860 he had a household of 5, with a real wealth of $350, and a personal wealth of $1100. In 1870 he lived in a household of three, with a real wealth of $1500 and a personal wealth of $800.
Tarlton was a member of the Nauvoo, Illinois 2nd ward.
Tarlton was one of the original pioneers of Utah. In 1847 he was chosen as one of the pioneer company in charge of President Brigham Young. After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley he was appointed Bishop of Salt Lake City, which position he held until Salt Lake City was divided into several wards. In 1850 he was called to assist in locating a settlement in Little Salt Lake Valley, and thus became one of the founders of Parowan, Iron, Utah, where he acted as Bishop until the spring of 1858. He was then called to settle at Minersville, Beaver, Utah. In the fall of 1877 he was appointed Bishop of the Richfield Second ward in Sevier County which position he held until he moved to Teasdale, Piute County.
Tarlton was a convert to "Mormonism." In October, 1839 he spent nine months in the Black River country, getting out timber for the Nauvoo Temple. Still later he took charge of the cranes in hoisting materials for the erection of the Temple. He was ordained a high priest and bishop and set apart to preside over the Fourth ward in Nauvoo. He acted in that capacity until the expulsion of the saints from Nauvoo in 1846. After spending the winter of 1847 at Winter Quarters, he crossed the plains as one of the original Utah pioneers in 1847, and took charge of the ox teams on the journey. In the fall of 1848 he was sent back to meet Brigham Young and the incoming companies; there he met his family, whom he had left at Winter Quarters the year previous. When Salt Lake City was divided in February, 1849, into 19 wards, he was chosen as 1st counselor to Bishop Edward Hunter of the 13th ward. Late in 1850 he was called to assist in locating a settlement in Little Salt Lake Valley.
Tarlton was the fourth of 12 children in his family. In Simpson County, Kentucky. It was here that Tarlton grew to manhood and also fell in love with his future wife, Malinda Gimlin, the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Moore Gimlin. Tarlton and Malinda were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by Tarlton's brother, Benjamin.
Three of the Lewis' brothers, Benjamin, Tarlton, and David joined the saints in Caldwell County, Missouri, where they endured the persecutions meted out to the saints by the mobs. In Archibald F. Bennett's lesson booklet entitled "Adventures in Research," we read: "On October 30, 1838 at a place called Haun's Mill on Shoal Creek in Missouri, a group of Mormon families gathered. Among them were three brothers Benjamin, Tarlton, and David Lewis, born respectively in the years 1803, 1805, and 1814. Angry mobs were threatening them from all the other settlements, and the brethren met in council deliberating the best course to pursue to defend themselves against the mob, threatening them with house burning and killing. About 28 of the men armed themselves and were in constant readiness for an attack of any small body of men, that might come down upon them. The children were playing and sporting on the other side of Shoal Creek, the mothers were engaged in domestic activities, and the fathers stood guard in the mill and other properties. The sun shone clear and all was tranquil. About four o'clock a large company of armed men approached on horses and began firing about one hundred rifles upon Haun's Mill. Tarlton and Benjamin were wounded but managed to get home. Here their wounds were dressed and Benjamin coughed up a pellet that had lodged in his stomach, but he died before morning. Returning to the blacksmith shop with several others, they found eight already dead, and some expiring. In jeopardy of their own lives, expecting to be fired upon by the mob at any moment, they gathered up the bullet pierced and maimed bodies of their friends and threw them into an abandoned well nearby. In this wanton slaughter 18 or 19 were killed and although Tarlton was badly wounded he helped his wife Malinda Gimlin, dig a grave for Benjamin. The family buried their beloved brother.
"There was one Isaac Laney, who was shot in the abdomen. He was so badly wounded that his intestines were falling out. Malinda tore off her own kitchen apron and bound it about his abdomen to keep them in place. They managed to get Mr. Laney to the Lewis' home before the mobs returned. Malinda saw them coming and had Tarlton hide under the house. The mob searched the house and upon seeing Mr. Laney, decided to not waste another bullet on him as he was near dead, and left never knowing the whereabouts of Tarlton. After they were gone Malinda wondered what she would disinfect the wound with. She knelt down by her husband's bed and prayed to the Lord to show her the way; what to do next. As she finished praying she opened her eyes and noticed the white ashes on the hearth. It seemed the answer to her prayer had come, and she gathered up the white ashes and soaked them in water. This water she used to bathe the wounds of both men. For weeks she nursed them back to health. Yes, Mr. Laney recovered and came to Utah with the saints as history relates." David Lewis escaped unharmed.
Tarlton Lewis recovered. However, he carried the bullet in his shoulder until he died as a mark of this event. Despite this shocking tragedy, the two surviving brothers never lost their faith in the principles of the Gospel.
Tarlton Lewis thought an awfully lot of the Prophet Joseph Smith. On June 5, 1841, he and several other men, who learned that the Prophet was in danger of being abducted, boarded a skiff and went to Quincy in an effort to rescue him. They arrived too late; for they found he had been taken to Nauvoo in the company of two officers.
Tarlton spent nine months at one time getting out timber from the Black River country for the erection of the Nauvoo Temple. He had charge of the cranes used for hoisting materials for erecting the temple. He was also a very skilled cabinet maker and carpenter. He and eight other men helped Brigham Young hoist the last stone in its place, thus finishing the Nauvoo Temple.
The 26th of June, 1846, the Mormon Battalion was organized. Samuel their eldest son, being only 16 years of age, signed up and served in Company "C". This proved a terrible blow to his father and they say it was then that his hair turned white almost over night.
The winter of 1846 was spent at Winter Quarters where the saints suffered much from the cold and for want of food. Their son, Edward, tagged along one day when his mother went after water, bringing his own little bucket. There was a hole chopped in the ice in the Missouri River for the purpose of supplying the camp with water. As the mother returned with her two buckets, she thought Edward was right behind her. Turning she found he was not anywhere in sight. She hurriedly returned to the hole and all that she could find was the little brass bucket he had carried, sitting on the ice. It was supposed that he slipped into the hole and was carried downstream. They never quite recovered from this incident.
Leaving his family camped in a covered wagon at Winter Quarters, Tarlton Lewis came with Brigham Young as one of the original Pioneers to Utah. On April 16, 1847, he was asked to be Captain over fifty wagons. He took charge of the ox teams and also took his turn at the various duties along the trail. They arrived July 24, 1847. He was asked to act as first Bishop of all Salt Lake City, which position he held until the saints were organized into five wards. Tarlton was later appointed to serve as first counselor to Bishop Edward Hunter of the 13th ward.
In 1848 Tarlton went with Brigham Young and party back to Winter Quarters with supplies to meet the immigrant trains. Here he found his own family just as he had left them and brought them to Utah with him.
In December 1850, Tarlton Lewis accompanied George A. Smith to Iron County, where they settled Parowan. This began the settling of Southern Utah. From the diary of George A. Smith we read: "Sunday 15 December, 1850, Bishop Tarlton Lewis assisted by the brethren made a campfire in the center of the corral. At my request the brethren made a large fire and called a general meeting. The meeting was opened by singing and a prayer by Brother Tarlton Lewis. A call was made for the Bishops to come forward and answer to their names; this took place on the Provo River. Monday morning 20 January, 1851, Bishop Lewis and nine other men started up the canyon to cut timber for the meeting house. Tuesday, 18, 1851, Bishop Lewis and three others commenced framing the mill. Friday May 16, 1851 Tarlton Lewis appointed Alderman on the city council. Saturday May 24, 1851, Tarlton Lewis and Brimhall took a walk to Red Break and took their spade with them and made an excavation into a mound.
"They found an adobe wall and some human bones and timbers. Monday June 16, 1851, Brother Tarlton Lewis went south to examine the possibilities of bringing the water out of the Red Breaks to water our fields - he reported rather unfavorably, then he and Joel H. Johnson with W.H. Sams examined Summit Creek and that was no good. Friday June 27, 1851, Brothers Lewis, Grobe and Elmer went out to meet their families and returned with them in the evening."
In 1858 Tarlton Lewis, Isaac Grundy, Jesse N. Smith and William Barton were sent to explore Beaver Valley. While exploring the surrounding territory they discovered rich deposits of land and iron in the mountains. The specimens were taken to Brigham Young and the discovery caused so much excitement that these men were ordered to open the mines and also were instructed to locate a settlement nearby. Minersville was settled in the spring of 1859. With the arrival of the first families Lincoln Mine was opened and a company was formed with Isaac Grundy as President and William Barton, John Blackburn, James Rollins, Silas S. Smith, and Samuel Lewis, oldest son of Tarlton Lewis, appointed directors.
Elizabeth Craig, a friend of the Lewis family used to relate this story. She said that when they moved to the same neighborhood that the Lewis family lived in they didn't have much to eat. They were very poor and worked all day on the old house they were moving into. It was full of cracks. The windows were broken and the house was not much good. It was cold and they had worked very hard all day without a bite to eat. When evening came, they were wondering what they could eat to ease their hunger pangs when a knock came to their door. Upon opening it, Brother Lewis and his wife walked in with a basket full of food: a huge beef roast, a pot of beans and a loaf of hot bread, with a bowl of fresh butter. They all sat down to the best tasting food they had ever eaten. She thought Tarlton Lewis was the best man she had ever known. They lived close to them for years. She said the Lewis' had a good comfortable home, lots of milk cows, chickens and other farm animals. Tarlton kept his place so clean of weeds that he had to go to his neighbors to get weeds to feed his pigs. He was a big man and had a big tummy, which made it hard for him to stoop, so he got down on his hands and knees to pull the weeds out of his garden. She said she believed that he gave away more food to the needy than he kept for himself and family.
Malinda Gimlin Lewis, his wife, was the first Relief Society President in Minersville. On April 16, 1859, Tarlton Lewis Sr., donated the northwest corner of his lot for the building spot for the Relief Society.
They lived in Minersville presumably for about 14 years, then with several of his children and their families and others, moved to Joseph City, often called Joe Town. Here they lived the United Order for a few years. Later they moved to Richfield, Sevier County. Tarlton held the position of Bishop in Richfield for slightly more than a year. His health forced him to resign. The many sufferings he had endured along with the saints had begun to show on him and he was then a man of 73 years. He was Bishop in most every community he lived in. Although he was a very large man, he was always very active and hard working and all of his life was spent in the service and building up of Zion.
Tarlton's second and third marriages both resulted in divorce. He died at the ranch home of his son Beason Lewis.
Tarlton was a real pioneer, always on the frontier; always helping found new towns, making reservoirs, and clearing ground and encouraging the people to build well. He was a colorful figure in the early days of Southern Utah. He has often been referred to as "The Grand Old Man."
*Another account of the Haun's Mill Massacre: A mob came without and commenced shooting down the people without warning. Just like they were beasts. One woman was out picking up chips when the mob started shooting at her. She dropped the chips and ran towards the house to shield herself from the bullets. She fell to the ground and hid behind a big sawed log. She lay there while the mob filled the log with bullets. The mob were bragging among themselves that they had killed another Mormon. The Mormon men having no weapons to defend themselves were compelled to run in all directions, some hiding behind trees, or in buildings or wherever they could find shelter. A few ran into the blacksmith shop. Tarlton's wife, Malinda, said that on that awful night her floor was so covered with dead, dying, or wounded that it was difficult to get among them to attend to their needs. Tarlton was shot through the shoulder and crippled for life. His brother Benjamin was shot down in cold blood. Though Tarlton was badly wounded he managed to dig a grave and shoveled back the dirt after the body was in. Give a woman a little
credit....One account says that "Tarlton was badly wounded and his good wife dug the grave and shoveled back the dirt after the body was in."