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Joining the Mormon church

If the early history of Utah is ever completely written, it will reveal many instances of undaunted determination, perseverance, and self sacrifice in this country where each man or woman must carve out their own fortunes and be judged, not by what their ancestors have done, but by what they themselves have accomplished. It is gratifying to find an entire family taking their place in the community as men of leadership and business integrity, and this may be truthfully said of the Robert Patefield Redford family.

Robert Patefield Redford was born at Pilkington, Whitefield, Lancashire, England on the 20th of January, 1814 and christened a member of St. Mary’s Church on the 10th of April, 1814 in the Diocese of Manchester and County of Lancaster by the Curate John Fallowfield. Robert was the son of John James and Ann Rogerson Patefield Redford and the second child of the family which consisted of three boys and one girl – Joseph, Robert, James and Ann.

He was a weaver by trade, working in the factories. He also owned a green grocery store. With a donkey and cart, he went about the village selling garden produce and on to Manchester and vicinity. He traded in other merchandise besides green vegetables, such as buying and selling pins and needles, small ware, sand salt and rubbing stone. he also made and sold his own shoe blacking. The sand salt was used in sweeping floors to remove mud, and etc., as it was an efficient cleaner. He took in return for some of his pay, pieces of glassware, bones, and clean rags that were sold to the printers for paper. It is said, in England they grind up clean bones and put in cheap flour which is purchased by poor people. Powdered bone was also used for whitening chalk.

Mormonism was not popular in England at this time. Robert and his friends planned to break up a missionary meeting. Because he was bold and fearless, Robert was chosen as the person most qualified to rid the village of the hated and despised Mormons. On the way to the meeting place, Robert pondered in his mind how to carry out the instructions of the trouble makers. He listened to a part of the message being expounded by the missionaries, and was impressed by the statement “Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.” After listening to the missionaries, he felt that in himself the men were telling the truth. When the opportunity came, Robert warned the missionaries the dissenters were going to break up the meeting, so [he] took them to his home by a different route where he fed and protected them throughout the night and the following week. The crowd of men waited impatiently for his return, for they know if anybody could do a job well, Robert could. It was sometime, later, they decided things were not going as planned, for he failed to return, so they proceeded to the place where the meeting was scheduled to be held. Upon their arrival there, they found no one; neither Robert nor the missionaries were present. They decided they had either been misinformed about the meeting or else the missionaries had failed to appear.

What courage Robert must have possessed in the face of persecution when he was baptized as a member of the LDS faith on the 3rd of August, 1840 by Elder Walker Johnson.

His marriage to Lettice Crossley

He had become interested in a “Mormon Girl,” a young widow named Lettice Eckersall Crossley whom he had met daily as she went to and from work. He wanted to be friendly with her, but she gave him no encouragement. She changed her attitude toward him as soon as she found out he had been converted and baptized. Their wedding date was set for the 12th of April 1841 and it was solemnized in the Collegiate Parish Church of Manchester in the County Palatine of Lancaster, according to the rites and ceremonies of the established Church [of England] after Banns (The ancient collegiate Church of Manchester now known as the Manchester Cathedral. It is the No. 1 Church of England’s place of worship. The Bishopric was founded in 1847 in Manchester. The collegiate Church then became the Cathedral.) Both were 27 years of age. On the evening of their wedding day, thirty of their friends came to celebrate with them, bringing a picnic and a few household gifts.

With their marriage came the establishment of their home life together in which Lettice worked hard with Robert to help make a living. They lived the gospel intently together, working and enjoying their family which consisted of four boys and one girl. The children were born as follows: Joseph Smith, born the 21st of February, 1842 and was named after the Prophet Joseph Smith. John was born the 16th of March 1844, and the only girl, Ann, was born on the 27th of May 1846. Abraham, the third son, was born the 1st of September 1849, and Robert on the 18th of August 1852. The last child and son, Ephraim, was born on the 6th of July 1855, after his father had left for America, and who later died from consumption. The children were born in Halfacre, Pilkington, Lancashire, England.

The family belonged to the Radcliffe branch of the LDS Church and walked three miles to attend their meetings. The boys, Joseph Smith, and John at the ages of eight and six, carried the missionary tracts of literature around the neighborhood and then gathered it up the following week and distributed these to other families, thus showing their devotion and love to the gospel and their eagerness to serve as they had been taught in their home. They were taught to love and sing the songs of Zion and their Mother sang and loved music that influenced the entire family as well as their friends. As the boys advanced in their teens, they led the singing in the branch meetings.

Joining the church had made them very unpopular and their business kept falling off until they had a hard time to make enough money for the bare necessities of life. Then there were five children in the family, Elder David B. Dille advised Robert to go to America where there were more opportunities. This certainly was the fulfillment of their latest desires since they had joined the church.

Going to America

Clara Wheeler

Having no money, Robert was advised to emigrate, and as soon as he could earn sufficient money, he was to send for his family. With a happy thought that he would be able to send for them, Lettice gave her consent for him to go. He left England on the 27th of November, 1854, sailing on the vessel Clara Wheeler and landed in New Orleans that same winter. In the Spring of 1855, he crossed the plains in the Captain John Hindley’s company, driving a team of oxen across the plains for Thomas Williams, the keeper of a large store in Salt Lake City, Utah. He arrived in Salt Lake City on the 3rd of September, 1855. Later he went to Tooele, Grantsville, and to Ogden where he owned a city lot, later returning to Salt Lake City.

His marriage to Patience Lambert

Because of the large number of women joining the Church in the earlier days, men were encouraged to have more than one wife. Therefore, Robert, believing in the LDS teachings of polygamy, met and married Patience Nay [sic – correctly spelled Vay] Lambert on the 29th of November 1856. They were married in Salt Lake City with the ceremony being solemnized in the upper room of the President’s office by President Brigham Young and D. Mackintosh as witness. Patience was a widow who owned two yoke of cattle (oxen) and a wagon that would help greatly in cultivating the new soil so crops could be raised and harvested and money obtained to send for his family.

Military Service

It was about this time the Echo Canyon War started, and from histories written by his sons and daughter, he was a volunteer in the war at the time Johnston’s Army invaded Utah (about 1856). He was one of the ten men who were ordered by President Brigham Young to be stationed among huge rocks at the head of Echo Canyon to retard the march of the men into the valley until they received permission to enter. On the 24th of July, a big celebration commemorating the tenth anniversary of the arrival of the Saints in the valley was held in Big Cottonwood Canyon at Silver lake. That evening the word was brought to President Young and his people that the U.S. Army was coming to invade Utah. This announcement was calmly made before prayers and everyone retired for the night. By the evening of the 25th, President Young and all who had gathered at Silver Lake were back in their homes in the valley.

Move to Cache Valley

The famine of 1856 that followed a two-season crop failure, no doubt, was responsible for the great influx of wagon trains coming to Cache Valley. Causes of the crop failures was from drought and the grasshopper and cricket plagues. The news of a bumper grain harvest that matured without the damage of frost, and plenty of good water and feed for the animals attracted scores of saints.

Robert made his first trip to Cache Valley in 1858. President Young had asked Peter Maughan to evacuate the settlement a Maughan’s Fort to a temporary settlement at Willard because of the fear of Indian hostilities. This they did, and returned in April 1859. Robert returned under Peter Maughan’s leadership and settled in Maughan’s Fort. He inquired of Bishop Wm. H. Maughan about land and Robert was asked how much land he wanted. He answered, “As much as he or thee.” He was given ten acres of farm land and ten acres of hay land.

The people of Wellsville had moved from the Fort to city lots. The first home of Robert was located in the South West part of Wellsville. He built a home – a log room with a braided willow door and a dirt roof. A white cloth was hung at the window to admit the light and give some protection from the cold. The first meeting of the Quorum of Seventy’s held in Cache Valley was held in his home.

Reunion with his son’s Joseph and John

Robert’s eldest son, Joseph Smith, arrived in Salt Lake City in October, 1862, just in time for the October Conference. He met Charles Bailey who told him his father lived in Wellsville. Joseph started for Cache Valley, catching a ride with Frank Gunnel to Brigham City and camped at Unsuker Valley, now known as Mantua. He met his father on the Divide. He had a pair of cattle (oxen) and a wagon, so Joseph rode on to Wellsville with him. It had been eight long, hard years since they had been together and emotions melted into tears as they talked over times.

John, Robert’s second son, left England in April 1864 to come to America, working on the ship to pay for his fare. He came on the Monarch of the Sea, arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the 6th of September 1864, after driving oxen and a load of stoves across the plains to get there. He walked and carried his luggage to Ogden, and then rode with a man to Wellsville where he found his father and brother, Joseph Smith Redford.

His father did not know him, he thought he was Joe Holt. John asked him what his plans were for sending for his family, and if he remembered his little boy, John? Robert said, “Yes, he was a little boy.” He talked a long time and said he wished “our John” had come with him. After keeping him waiting for a long time, he said, “Well, I think your John is here.” He looked at John in wonderment and at last broke down.

His wife, Patience, died the 18th of April 1865, and was buried in the Wellsville Cemetery, and as spring and summer came, Robert took sick with dropsy and died the 1st of Jul 1865 at the age of fifty-one years. He was buried in the Wellsville Cemetery by the side of his wife, Patience. Lettice and the other children did not arrive from England to see Robert alive.

Until the day of his death, he bore a strong testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel and the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was the only member of his family to join the church.