Neriah and Rebecca (HENDRICKS) LEWIS
"Just after we arrived at their camp some two or three hundred Indian Warriors came on horseback to serenade us. They fired their guns as they came and did not forget to give their war shoop. It was very exciting for our people, many of whom had never seen an Indian before."
Both Neriah Lewis and Rebecca Hendricks were born in Simpson County Kentucky on April 29, 1816 and December 23, 1817, respectively. Neriah was born to Neriah and Mary (Moss) Lewis, and was one of twelve children, eight boys and four girls. Neriah's family members were large in stature. Neriah was the smallest of the brothers, was six feet one inch tall and weighed one hundred and seventy pounds.
After marriage, Neriah and Rebecca made their first home in Macoupin County, Illinois, where they prospered and their first three children were born: William Hendricks on October 14, 1837, Benjamin Marion on March 20, 1842 and Neriah Robert on March 10, 1843.
During the winter of 1846 Neriah's brother, David, came to visit and preached the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. Neriah accepted the Gospel and was baptized. His wife did not join the Church at that time.
Neriah's son, William Hendricks Lewis wrote an account of his family life during those years:
" A few weeks after my father accepted the Gosepl he sold out and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. Soon after that we started for the great unknown West, traveling through Iowa to the Missouri River. A crude flat boat was constructed on which we crossed the Missouri River.
The first camp that Neriah's family rested after crossing the river was on the banks of Sugar Creek. Here they joined Bishop George Miller's company with which they would remain until after crossing the plains of Iowa. Bishop Miller was one of the twenty-five captains of one hundred appointed in Nauvoo. This little company, consisting of sixteen wagons and thirty or forty pioneers, left Sugar Creek for the Des Moines River on Wednesday, Februaruy 25, 1946. On this day at 7:00 p.m. the thermometer stood at 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Their camp remained ahead of that of Brigham young for much of their journey through Iowa, as Bishop Miller had ambitions of completing the journey beyond the Rocky Mountains by the end of the season. They arrived at a campsite near the Des Moines River and Farmington sufficiently in advance of Brigham Young's group to have completed a fence and cleared a feidl before other companies arrived. Neriah's group had also procured some much needed corn for the benefit of all the saints.
According to the historian Bancroft:
"Without attempting long distances in a single day, they made camp rather early, and after the usual manner of immigrants, the wagons in a circle or semi-cirlce round the camp fire, placed so as best to sheidl them from the wind and wild beasts and Indians, with the animals at a convenient distance, some staked and some running loose, but all carefully guarded. The country through which they passes was much of it well wooded: the land was fertile and afforded abundant pastures, the grass in summer being from one to ten feet high. provisions were cheap: corn twelve cents and wheat twenty-five to thirty cents a pound, and all payable in labor at what was then considered good wages, say forty or fifty cents a day."