History of James Lythgoe
by Esther Lythgoe Robinson (daughter). Also mentioned: Martha Heelis, Thomas Lythgoe (father), Esther Wilcock.
By Esther Lythgoe Robinson
James Lythgoe was born March 15, 1842, at Pendlebury, Lancashire, England. His father’s name was Thomas Lythgoe and his mother was Esther Wilcock Lythgoe. When a baby, he was blessed and named by the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the blessing given to him at that time was made known to him later on in life. Following is a copy of that blessing given to him at the age of four weeks by Parley P. Pratt:
"We take this child in our arms and seal upon him the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and give him the name of James, and he shall grow to be a faithful representative of God upon the earth. He shall be multiplied in his day upon the earth, and we bless him to be a Saviour upon Mount Zion. Many shall rejoice in his preaching the Gospel. He shall live long and do much good. His posterity shall call him blessed which will be numerous. We pray, O Lord, that Thou wilt be mindful of this child that he will live to old age and be greatly blessed in his declining years and finally be gathered to receive his exaltation and Celestial resurrection. We bless him to this end by the authority of the Holy Priesthood in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
When James Lythgoe was ten years of age he was baptized by George Rushton of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 10, 1852, at Pendlebury, England. He was confirmed a member of the Church May 11, 1852, by Samuel Harmer. When he grew to young manhood he had learned the shoemakers’ trade and made wooden shoes. He also learned to play the violin and to write music, walking seven miles to take his lesson each week. He became a teacher of music and could teach almost any instrument.
On March 26, 1862, he was appointed a traveling missionary for the Church to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this he was very successful and had for his companions some of the Apostles of that day, three of which signed his appointment. On the 17th day of April, 1864, he was married to Martha Heelis by one of the Apostles. He and his wife set sail for America the 22nd day of May and landed in New York the 3rd day of July, 1864. He writes, "I was very sick all the way across the ocean and became very weak. At the first camp on the plains the people were very busy all around us. I drove four yoke of cattle across the plains and my wife, Martha, walked most of the way. We traveled up the Platte River for many miles. It was there I first saw the "Red Man of the Plains," which gave me a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon. In fording the Platte River the water was low enough for us to wade across. It was about a mile wide and the water was very warm, but in about another hour it was so high it would have been impossible for us to cross. As I write this we are now traveling through Wyoming.
"After arriving in Utah we went to Santaquin on September 26, 1864. We lived there for a while then moved to Porterville, Utah, Morgan County. In the year 1872 we moved to Henefer, Utah. My wife and I were again married by Daniel H. Wells on June 24, 1865, in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Utah.
James Lythgoe also write, "My father and mother were of the first to embrace the Gospel in Pendlebury Branch in the year 1840 and were convinced of its truths by the preaching of Apostle Parley P. Pratt. They were acquainted with Apostles Brigham Young, John Taylor, Orson Hyde and many others in the early days, and often heard preaching in Carpenters Hall, Manchester, England. I have often heard in my boyhood, father and others tell incidents of Apostle Orson Hyde going and returning from his Mission to Jerusalem. I can remember in my youth when Peter Sharples [second husband of Rachel Kilner Harrop] was president of Pendlebury Branch. My father was very generous to the Elders on missions at that time. My parents kept open house for all the Elders of the Church. I remember our meeting house being in mourning at the deaths of the Prophets Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Their pictures were upon the wall with this inscription: "In memory of our departed but deeply lamented brothers who died martyrs for the cause of Christ on the 27th day of June, 1844." I also remember my trip to London to see Queen Victoria when she was the reigning monarch of England.
[The account here of James’ letter of appointment to the ministry is deleted because it is included in the above history.]
"My first traveling was in company with John M. Kay. We walked to Oldham on Sunday morning a distance of eight miles. This was in the Manchester Conference, and there were 32 branches. About this time the Civil War was on between the North and the South and many of the Elders were called home to Utah, America. I was alone in my work for nearly two years when more Elders were sent from Utah. I spent much time visiting people who had left the Church. I was now traveling with Thomas Taylor, the District President. We were together for six months. About Christmas time President Cannon called a council of the ministry of the Mission. It lasted for six days and we had a very good time together. Brother Taylor told me I would be released in the spring to go to Zion. I continued with my labours until my wife and I could sail for America.
James and Martha Heelis Lythgoe were the parents of seven children, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood, married, had children and grandchildren while their father was still living. After the death of his wife, Martha Heelis, he was married to Hannah S. Peterson Johnson in the Logan Temple on August 16, 1892. She was a native of Norway, coming to America at the age of four years with her grandmother and also her mother and others in the family who were converted to the Church by LDS missionaries.
Hannah S. Peterson Johnson was a widow with four small children when she married James Lythgoe. She was living in Millcreek, (on 20th East Street) Salt Lake City, Utah, and after their marriage they settled down on the farm in Henefer, Utah, where James Lythgoe had homesteaded some years before. They also built and operated a store there for many years, called the "Hannah S. Lythgoe Confectionary." They were the parents of seven more children, all of which grew up excepting their third child, Brigham, who died when he was one year and seven months old.
James Lythgoe was the first chorister of the Henefer Ward and played his violin at their many dances and entertainments. He was also Justice of the Peace for two terms. Besides raising a large family, tending to his farm and business enterprises he still found time to care for the sick and needy. During the dreadful influenza epidemic after the First World War he traveled around nursing and administering to the sick and comforting the bereaved. During his lifetime he received blessings from three different Patriarchs. They all said: "Thy name shall be handed down generation to generation in Honorable Remembrance." He died at his home in Henefer, Utah, Summit County, on March 17, 1929, at the age of 87 years. He left a large posterity including 13 living children, 4 step children, 50 grandchildren, and ___ great-grandchildren.
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