Our Story Begins in New York State in the early 1800s
Ada Winchell (see her photo on the left in her
later years) was born in Hebron, Washington, New York on 24 Dec
1801 to Justus Winchell who immigrated from Germany and Eva Savage
of Connecticut. Ada was married to Albert Clements (see his photo on the right) on 28 Jan 1820
(6) in Fort Ann, Washington, New York. Albert was born to 19 Mar
1801 to James H. Clements and Lucy Owens in Fort Ann. After their
marriage Ada & Albert continued to live in Fort Ann, NY on
the North Eastern boundary of NY state but after their first child
was born in 1822 the moved to Gayland or Galon, Wayne or Washington
County, NY where their next 4 children were born.(7)(3) The prophet
Joseph Smith was living with his family in Palmyra, Wayne county
New York in the 1820s and it would only be a matter of time before
the Clements family would encounter the Mormons. One day Albert
Clements brought home a Book of Mormon and told his wife Ada of
a minister, Sidney Rigdon, a Mormon missionary who was preaching
the gospel the way Jesus intended it to be taught.(3) They believed,
were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints probably in the early 1830s and moved about 1833 with their
children to Ohio to be near the Saints who had left Palmyra, NY
because of persecution for their beliefs. (7)
Kirtland Ohio and Zion's Camp
The Albert Clements family in 1834 numbered
8 with their 6 living children : Alvin born 23 Nov 1822, Lucy
born 22 Nov 1825, James born 16 Feb 1827 but died in 1828, Paul
born 18 Aug 1829 and James 22 Jan 1832 all born in Washington
County, New York state and Eliza born in Florence, Erie, Ohio
17 Mar 1834.(6) Albert went to Florence Ohio in 1833 with Alanson
Ripley so by then he had been baptized and was joining the Saints
in Ohio. They lived here only one year before joining Zions Camp
in Mansfield, Ohio May 10, 1834 and became a member of Orson Hyde's
Try to imagine what a sacrifice it was for them to leave their home and move with the church to new areas not once but many many times and they did it willingly. Kirtland where the Saints were gathering was in NE Ohio but the Clements had moved to Florence in 1833 which was west of Kirtland. It was not to be their home for long as we see from where their next children were born: Elizabeth 17 May 1836 in Liberty, Clay, Missouri, Ada [my great grandmother] 17 Mar or Jan 27 1839 in Farwest, Caldwell, Missouri and their last child Albert Nephi 15 Nov 1842 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois. (6) But before they were to move to Missouri, there was to be the Zion's Camp experience in Missouri.
A group of Mormons had been sent by their prophet
Joseph Smith to Independence, Missouri to establish Zion and build
a temple to their God. They had encountered much resistance from
the native Missourians who feared the newcomers with their religious
fervor and their also anti-slavery ideas. The Mormons went about
buying up property and establishing homes and farms while the
Missourians watched with fear and concern. Soon mobs were forming
and the Missourians took the law into their own hands and tried
to force the Mormons to move out. In this highly charged emotional
climate, the Saints sent word to Joseph Smith that they needed
help. He decided to try to raise a force of 500 men to march to
Missouri and support the Saints there to regain their lost lands.
The list of the members of Zion's Camp (5) includes Albert Clements
and Ada Clements (one of 11 women who went with the camp) but
none of their children are listed in the seven children who went
with the Camp which leads me to believe that the six Clements
children were left in the care of others while their parents went
on the Zion's Camp in May 1834. What an experience this must have
been for Ada and Albert Clements to travel with the Zion's Camp
led by the prophet Joseph Smith.
After the Saints were expelled [by mobs] from Jackson County in November 1833, a revelation informed Joseph Smith to seek redress from the courts, the governor, and from the President of the United Sates (D&C 101:86-88). Missouri's Attorney General, Robert W. Wells, acting for Governor Dunklin, informed the exiled church leaders in Clay County, Missouri, through their attorneys, Alexander W. Doniphan and David R. Atchison on November 21, 1833, of two things that could be done. (1) An "adequate force," meaning a "militia," can be provided by the state to escort the suffering Saints back to their homes in Jackson County. (2) The Mormons could organize into a militia of their own to assist the state in that return. Moreover, inasmuch as the Saints would need protection after they returned to their lands and the governor believed that he was not empowered to keep a military presence there to protect them, their own militia could provide that service. This was the rationale for Zion's Camp.After a council at Kirtland, Ohio, February 24, 1834, with Mormon leaders from Missouri, Joseph Smith was determined to do it "by power"; hence Zion's Camp came to be (D&C 103:15, 30-33).
Recruiting Mormon volunteers in the East took place in the winter and spring of 1834. Eventually, a small force with contingents from Ohio and Michigan was organized, comprising a total of 205 men, ten women and about eight children, who would accompany their husbands and fathers on the journey. Several days after Joseph Smith's departure from Kirtland, May 5, 1834, with Zion's Camp under his command, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon, leaders who remained behind, published a circular to the Saints: "the Governor is bound to call out the [Missouri] Militia and take [the exiled Saints] back [to Jackson County], it said. The Prophet Joseph knew that he needed the support of the state for strength, for he was not satisfied with the poor showing of the numbers in Zion's Camp. He wrote to his wife Emma on the 4th of June enroute to Missouri, "...our numbers and means are altogether too small for the accomplishment of such a great enterprise." At the Salt River in eastern Missouri, the Mormon groups from Michigan and Ohio met and moved westward together toward Clay County.
Meanwhile and before the recruits left Kirtland, an event occurred that played on the destiny of Zion's Camp. On April 29, 1834, the postmaster of Chagrin, Ohio, wrote to the postmaster of Independence, Missouri, to inform him about Zion's Camp. The postmaster gave an alarming report: "The Mormons in this region are organizing an army to restore Zion. That is, to take by force of arms their former possessions in Jackson Co. Missouri." While foreboding misfortune, it continued, "They are armed with every species of implements of destruction...." A letter by another Ohioan reported a similar message to the postmaster of Independence and printed with the previous letter in the Missouri Intelligencer, a Columbia, Missouri, newspaper, announcing that the size of the Mormon army would "consist of seven hundred men." (4) This correspondence and exaggerated rumor reignited violence in western Missouri against the Mormons. First, citizens of Jackson County in large numbers returned to the vacant Mormon villages in Blue and Kaw townships [Editor note-from research I found out that my ancestors Isaac Sampson and John Lemmon families lived in Blue township] and burned their empty houses and sheds, consuming nearly 170 buildings.
The letters also fueled mounting rumors among the citizens of western Missouri of the expected slaughter by the Mormons. Local citizens began to prepare in their defense against the arrival and assumed attacks of the invaders. The Western Examiner, a St. Louis newspaper, reported of Zion's Camp, "They are generally able bodied and efficient men, well armed." As Zion's Camp advanced westward, a resident of Lafayette County wrote, "The whole country is in an uproar." George A. Smith, a member of the Camp, noted that large numbers of local citizens were organized against the Mormons in Ray, Lafayette, Clay and Jackson counties. A resident of nearby Lexington, Lafayette County, wrote to his family in Kentucky, "Volunteers are preparing to go to the scene of action," he said. "Should they [Zion's Camp] cross the river, there will be a battle, and probably much blood shed. Among others, I shall start on Saturday next, at 8 o'clock." While reflecting upon the pervading impression of his neighbors against the Mormons, the same Lexington resident later wrote, "I know we had neither law nor gospel on our side, but self-preservation urged us to pursue that course, for we knew that our county would be the next to suffer from their presence. If they [the Mormons] had crossed the river, I very much question if one would have been left to tell the tale," he continued. "No quarter would have been given. We could have killed most of them before they got across the river. Such was the state of mind in western Missouri as Zion's Camp pushed westward.
In the meantime, Zion's Camp in the eastern part of Missouri sought the mind of the governor; Joseph Smith sent Parley P. Pratt and Orson Hyde to Jefferson City to inquire about assistance. Dunklin attempted to placate Pratt and Hyde with an appeal to arbitration, "for fear," said Elder Pratt, "of deluging the whole country in civil war and bloodshed." With the violent conditions awaiting the Mormons in the west, it is little wonder that Governor Dunklin preferred to meet the crisis with words instead of guns. (What prudent governor would not have done the same under similar circumstances.) Pratt and Hyde, however, viewed the governor's appeal for compromise as an act of cowardice and an abdication of his duty. When Pratt and Hyde reported to Joseph Smith, at least one of the Camp member, Lyman Wight, noted that all was not lost. He wrote, "They [Pratt and Hyde] brought the intelligence that the Governor, would execute the law," he said, "whatever it might be."
What exactly Governor Dunklin would have done if proposed negotiations failed, as indeed they later did, and if the Mormons then had petitioned him for a guard, is unknown. The governor seemed inclined more to avoid conflict than to help the Saints. Later, after the crisis ended and negotiations brought some tranquility to western Missouri-but never justice to the Saints-Church leaders in Clay County, Algernon Sidney Gilbert and William W. Phelps, in their desire to promote peace, in June 26 wrote the governor. "We think it wisdom to defer petitioning for a guard, while there exists a hope of a compromise," they said. A month later, August 1, Phelps again wrote the governor, "When our emigrating brethren arrived from the east, the prospect of blood shed or civil war was so apparent in Jackson County, that our people resolved to cease from the idea for a while, of returning to their land and possessions, notwithstanding your Excellency was ready, (agreeably to your communication to us) to guard us into Jackson, whenever we said we were prepared to go." While some Mormon leaders blamed Governor Dunklin for his failure to help, others apparently did not.
Meanwhile, Zion's Camp entered Clay County June 19, 1834, at the Fishing River just west of present-day Excelsior Springs and camped there near today's Highway H. The citizens of several counties were positioned in large numbers ready to attack the Camp. The first night that Zion's Camp was in Clay County a storm of marvelous proportions and some believed by providential direction prevented the battle. Three days later on Sunday, June 22, still at the Fishing River, but four miles north of their first encampment, Joseph Smith met with the Sheriff of Clay County, Cornelius Gillium, and expressed his willingness to negotiate for a peaceful end to the crisis. The emergency for the moment was over. The Prophet's decision to negotiate a solution to the Mormon suffering led to a postponement of any military use of the Camp. That same day, Joseph Smith received the "Fishing River Revelation" to disband Zion's Camp (D&C 105).
Some of the more militant of the Camp members, however, were disappointed in the decision not to fight and vigorously complained. William Cahoon, a member of Zion's Camp, wrote, "The Word of the Lord came to the Prophet Joseph saying the time had not come to take the sword in hand to redeem Zion. Many in the camp murmured because we were not permitted at this time to restore our brethren and sisters to their homes and defend them there at all hazards." It was at this juncture of demonstrated disappointment that Joseph imposed a warning from heaven upon his men (or as some said, a curse). They could expect trouble to befall them, he said, because of the disorderly spirit of some. He had given a similar warning before in Illinois. On that same Sunday, June 22, three men of the Camp fell ill.
The following day, Zion's Camp left the Fishing River and moved west to the homes and fields of exiled members George Burket and Algernon Sidney Gilbert at Rush Creek, two miles east of the Liberty courthouse. There, on the night of June 24, some of the men on guard and soon others were seized upon violently with cholera, a disease of the digestive tract often resulting from contaminated water or poor sanitation. Cholera was not an unknown disease in frontier Missouri and it was horribly feared. Within a day or two some men began to die of the disease and over the next several days twelve male members of Zion's Camp died, and a thirteenth one, a female, Betsy Parrish, died. She was traveling with her husband Warren. Additionally, two of the local Saints in whose house some of the sick were treated also died. These were the leader Sidney Gilbert himself and a six-year-old girl, Phoebe Murdock, who was living with the Gilberts. (She was an older sister of the Murdock twins, whom John Murdock gave to Joseph and Emma in 1831 at the death of their own twin babies.) Phoebe's father was present with Zion's Camp and cared for her in her sickness and buried her Sunday, July 6, the day she died.
About 68 people were afflicted with cholera, including briefly Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, severely, and Jesse Smith, the Prophet's cousin, who was one of the last to die. Wilford Woodruff might have become afflicted with the disease except for a job assignment which removed him from caring for the sick. He said that each tent group had to care for their own sick and that Seth Hitchcock, who was a member of his tent, was seriously afflicted. When Hitchcock was stricken, Brother Woodruff's duty to care for a team of horses removed him from the tent. Instead, Warren Ingles was assigned to care for Hitchcock, and both Hitchcock and Ingles, who also was soon afflicted, died.
Heber C. Kimball informs us that the burial site for Hitchcock and others was "in a little bluff by the side of a small stream that emptied into Rush creek," located in the proximity of the house of Sidney Gilbert. He also tells us that five of the deceased were buried in the little bluff, starting with John S. Carter, the first to die, and Seth Hitchcock, both of whom had camped at George Burket's, and Eber Wilcox who died at Sidney Gilbert's house. Others, too, may have been buried at that site, apparently this included Betsy Parrish. Paradoxically, the victims of cholera seemed not to have been the overt complainers of the Camp. (4)
Moving to Missouri and then to Nauvoo, Illinois
is no information recorded about the experiences of the Clements
family after Zion's Camp or when they moved to Missouri but the
birth dates of their children which gives us a timeline of their
whereabouts during that time. 1836-Liberty, Clay, Mo. 1839-Far
West, Caldwell, Mo and then 1843-Nauvoo. (7)The history of the
church fills in much detail. The Saints were driven out of Clay
County in 1836 by mobs then to Davis County where Far West and
Adam ondi-Ahman are located only to driven out of there in 1839.
Then they were driven out of Missouri across the Mississippi River
to Quincy, Illinois. More details of events during this time can
be learned by looking at the stories of my other pioneer ancestors
like the Lemmon and Sampson families and church history during
that time. The Saints eventually settled north of Quincy in a
swampland which they cleared and named Nauvoo the beautiful. They
hoped to stay here forever in peace but that was not to be.
The Clements family lived near the Prophet
Joseph Smith in Nauvoo and Ada had been baptized by Hyrum Smith.
They lost two sons Paul (1844) and Alvin? (1855) on the streets
of Nauvoo due to mob violence. (11) [Some sources mention Paul's
death as happening in Missouri but the Saints were in Nauvoo in
There is a brief written mention of Ada Clements in Nauvoo."Mary Ann Boice recorded [in her husband's Patriarchal Blessings book] Mrs. Aidah Clements as saying she worked for the prophet's family in Nauvoo..."(8) [From my trip to Nauvoo in May 2000, I discovered that many people were employed by Emma Smith in running the Nauvoo House or Mansion House to help with laundry and ironing as well as cooking and serving for the many guests. I could not find in the Land Records where Albert or Ada owned any land. I'm still researching that aspect of their lives. I want to check census records for 1840's in Nauvoo.]
Death of the Prophet bring many changes
Ada Clements no doubt, went to see the beloved
prophet and his brother Hyrum the patriarch after they were martyred
as they lay in their caskets in the basement of the Mansion Home
in Nauvoo. Ten thousand Saints gazed upon the prophet and his
brother. Albert was not home at the time but away from home working
for church interests and to support his family when he heard the
terrible news about the prophet, he immediately started for home.
On the way his horse took sick and he stopped at a store to obtain
medicine. Here he met his friend Sidney Rigdon who had converted
him. Sidney told Albert he was hurrying back to Nauvoo to be with
the Saints during the time of sorrow and to take his place as
their leader. Albert was happy to learn of Mr. Rigdon's decision.
When Albert came home August 15, 1844 his wife
and children were pleased to have him home again. Ada told him
how happy she would have been if he had been there a week ago
this morning to the meeting that was held in the grove when Brigham
Young was chosen as their leader. (12) She described how Brigham
Young had taken on the appearance and voice of the prophet Joseph
Smith. Albert could not accept Brigham Young as the new leader
and continued to follow Sidney Rigdon. When the Saints began preparations
for the westward journey, Albert asked his wife if she were going
to leave him as he refused to follow Brigham. Ada was sure in
her heart that she must go with the Saints and share their fate.
She begged her husband to come with her saying she would never
cease to love him, and would always pray for him to see the truth.(2)
She and her children Eliza, Elizabeth, Ada, Nephi and James went
with her to Winter Quarters. Before leaving Nauvoo, Ada was able
to receive her endowments in the Nauvoo temple on Jan 27 1846.
(19) So she would have left Nauvoo after this time.
Ada cast her lot with the Saints and was among the earliest Saints to leave Nauvoo for Iowa and eventually Winter Quarters.(12) Albert helped all he could to provide food and other necessities to make his family comfortable and then bade them goodbye in great sorrow.(2) Ada stayed in Winter Quarters almost 5 years before she could come West with the Saints. Two of her daughters Eliza and Elizabeth came to Utah earlier in October 1847 with Capt. Jedediah Grant's company. She crossed the plains in the Warren Snow company arriving in Salt Lake, Oct 9 1852. Her 9 year old son Nephi (see his photo on the right in later years) drove the ox team most of the way across the plains.
Though she loved her husband Albert, he applied for divorce and it was granted. They lived their separate ways and had separate ideas on religion.(3) Both remarried and were later widowed.
A reunion after many years
Her youngest son, Albert Nephi made a trip back east to visit his father. He told his father that he would eventually see the light and want to come back to his family and that he would be welcome. Years later, Albert at age 71, wrote that he was now ready to join his family, so the children got their parents together. Albert was happily welcomed by Ada and all their family members. They went to Salt Lake City and were sealed in the Endowment House 21 Oct 1872.(19)(2) They lived the rest of their lives in Springville, Utah. Ada was married to three other men during the years that she was divorced from Albert, He had married twice during that time. Albert died in Springville, Utah in 20 Apr 1883 and Ada died at the age of 89 on 4 Mar 1890 in Oxford, Idaho where she was living near her grown children.(3)
Perhaps a fitting conclusion to a life well lived-Patriarchal Blessing-Ada Clements
No 1344 Nov 3 A blessing by John Smith [Joseph Smith's uncle although (6) mentions the officiator as Joseph Smith Sr and the place as Nauvoo, Illinois.], Patriarch upon the head of Ada Clements daughter of Justus & Eve Winchel, born Feb 24, 1808 Hebron, New York. Sister Ada I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth & place upon you a father's blessing; thou hast seen much trouble in thy days and sorrows have seemed to multiply upon thy head, the Lord bless thee inasmuch as thou art humble & deliver thee out of all thy troubles & those who have caused trouble shall be rewarded according to their works, thou art a daughter of Jacob & an heir to all the blessings which were sealed upon the children of Joseph, the Lord will regard thy condition & lift thee up & exalt thee in due time & as for thy companion inasmuch as he is rebellious & neglects his duty, thou shall not loose thy blessing & his shall be given to another, thou shall be blest in thy family inasmuch as they are poor they shall be made rich, inasmuch as they are humble they shall be exalted & they shall be blest with a multiplicity of blessings & become very numerous & thy name shall not be forgotten by the saints, thy years shall be according to thy faith, even to enjoy every good thing & through endurance in faith to the end thou shall inherit eternal life, amen. (9)
(1) Biography of "Ada Clements" and
"Albert Clements" in Latter-Day Saint Biographical
Encyclopedia by Andrew Jenson, 1951, Vol. 4, p.688
(2) Biography of "Ada Winchell Clements" written by Bertha M. Linebarger taken from Our Pioneer Heritage by Kate Carter, DUP, Vol. 3 -The Lonely Trail p. 111-2
(3) Photo of Ada W. Clements from Women of Faith & Fortitude by DUP, SLC, Utah. p. 616
(4)"The History of Zion's Camp" by Max H. Parkin from "Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation Newsletter" #15, Jackson County, Missouri, Fall 1997.
(5) History of the Church, by B.H. Roberts Vol. 2, p. 183-5 (Zions Camp list )
(6) Membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1830-1848 vol. XLVI, p. 325-332 by Susan Easton Black
(7) Family Group Sheets in possession of Lin Floyd
(8) Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith by Linda King Newell, p. 134
(9) Patriarchal Blessing of Aidah Winchell Clements from LDS Church Archives in SLC, Utah, Vol. 3. p. 74, copy in possession of Lin Floyd
(10) "Albert Nephi Clements" Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah by Frank Esshom, p. 812
(11) Oxford Cemetery by Bertha Daniels, DUP Library
(12) "History of Ada Winchell and Albert Clements" by gdg Juliett Lowe, DUP Library
(13) A profile of Latter Day Saints of Kirtland, Ohio & Members of Zions Camp 1830-1839 by Milton Backman p. 17, 95
(14) LDS Missouri Petitions of 1830s by Clark Johnson [nothing listed for Clements family]
(15) Nauvoo: Early Mormon Record Series, 1839-1846 by Lyman Platt, p. 175-6.
(16) Index to the Mormon Pioneer Genealogy Library by Michel Call [not checked yet]
(17) Nauvoo Social History Project by James Smith [not checked yet]
(18) Nauvoo Federal Census 1842 [not checked yet]
(19) IGI [now LDS Ordinance File]
(20) Black, Susan Easton. Annotated Record of Baptisms for the Dead 1840-1845, v. 2, p. 629 (Ada Clements in Nauvoo 1842-6) (21) Nauvoo land records office in Nauvoo-lists where the Clements lived in Nauvoo
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