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Lemuel H. Redd Sr.
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Captain Silas S. Smith, San Juan Mission President, Hole-in-the-Rock Leader

Lemuel Hardison Redd Sr.

Born: July 31, 1836, in Sneads Ferry, Onslow County, North Carolina
Died: June 9, 1910, in Colonia Juarez, Mexico
Married: Keziah Jane Butler (January 2, 1856)
Married: Sarah Louisa Chamberlain (October 1866)
Father: John Hardison Redd
Mother: Elizabeth Hancock

Lemuel Hardison Redd was born on July 31, 1836, in Onslow County, North Carolina.  He joined five brothers and sisters already born to his loving parents, Hardison Redd and Elizabeth Hancock Redd.  His father was a seafaring man well respected among his peers and was affectionately referred to as Captain Redd.  In total, Lemuel would be the sixth of eight children.  The others were Edward, Harriet (who died as an infant), Ann Moriah, Elizabeth Anne, Mary Catherine, (Lemuel), John Holt and Benjamin Jones.

Lemuel’s parents moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1838.  They purchased a large plantation and a few African American slaves.  Four years later, when Lemuel was six-years-old, his family heard the gospel and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  His father legally freed their slaves through an act of court, though two of the slave women and their children decided to stay on with the family.  Burning testimony gave the Redds the courage to join the Saints in Nauvoo, and then to journey to the Salt Lake Valley in 1850.  By that time, Lemuel was fourteen-years-old, and that was old enough to do his share.  He drove an ox team from St. Joe, Missouri across the vast plains to Salt Lake City.  Cholera made the arduous journey of these faithful Saints even more difficult, and Lemuel and his father both suffered greatly from the illness.  Eventually they recovered and were overjoyed to reach the Salt Lake Valley and begin a new phase of their lives.  Stories of what he experienced, witnessed, and felt while traveling the long miles with his family and others were close to his heart, and Lemuel shared them time and again with his awe struck children and grandchildren for years to come.

After safely arriving in Salt Lake, Lemuel and his parents established a home for themselves in Spanish Fork, Utah.  There they set up the first sawmill south of Provo and began pioneering the new terrain.  W.W. Wellis baptized Lemuel a member to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 2, 1852 in Spanish Fork.  He was ordained to the office of a priest the same day and remained faithful to his duties as a priesthood holder throughout his entire life.

Fighting with local Indians broke out in 1853, and consequently the sawmill and town were destroyed, at a loss of $6000 to the family.  They moved to Palmyra hoping to start again on safer soil.

Time as a Fearless Soldier
Lemuel could always be counted on to defend his freedom and country.  Patriotism ran in his blood.  He was a direct descent of John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, and many of his ancestors fought valiantly for the cause of freedom.  Lemuel was a soldier in the Walker War, which broke out in July 1853.  He was a soldier again in the Black Hawk War that erupted in 1863.  Threat of Indian invasion was ever present in the minds of the early settlers of this untamed land.  Lemuel was part of an army of soldiers commissioned with tracking the Indians and discouraging them from bloodshed.  His company lost one man and one horse in the war, which gratefully lasted only one month.  He and his fellow soldiers were given a medal for their bravery.  Lemuel was also called to be one of two-thousand soldiers organized by Brigham Young as a ready force, prepared if a need arose.  As part of this force, he was assigned to meet the U.S. Army, who upon hearing false reports, were given orders to disband the Mormons in Utah.  Determined to set straight the supposedly unruly Mormons, the Army brought Mr. Alfred Cummings with them, and he was assigned to be governor of Utah.  A compromise and understanding were reached without bloodshed, and in time, Governor Cummings became a great support to the Mormon colonizers.

Marriage and Family Life
On the cold winter day of January 2, 1856, Lemuel Redd Sr. married the amiable and kind Keziah Jane Butler.  Bishop William Pace performed the marriage and they received their endowments and were sealed the following year by Daniel H. Wells, counselor to President Brigham Young.  Lemuel and Keziah had thirteen children together, ten of which lived.  Their names were Lemuel Hardison, Jr., Mary Jane, John Wilson, William Alexander, James Monroe, Caroline Elizabeth, Amos Thorton (who died as an infant), Moriah Luella, Charity Alvira, and Alice.  Keziah was a faithful wife and loving mother who endured tremendous hardship throughout her life.

Shortly after their marriage in 1856, Lemuel and Keziah were called by church leaders to help settle Las Vegas, Nevada, the purpose of this mission being to help open the lead mines in the area to local settlers.  The road-making endeavors required of this assignment proved an especially difficult task in the rocky terrain and intense summer heat.  The mines were unsuccessful, and eventually the mission was disbanded.  Lemuel and Keziah returned to Spanish Fork, Utah, three weeks before the birth of their first son, Lemuel Hardison, Jr.  Then, in 1862, President Brigham Young asked Lemuel and Keziah to settle the frontier area of New Harmony, Utah, just south of Cedar City.  That spring, the couple moved with their four small children, excited to be venturing into the unknown.  Lemuel quickly became involved as a leader in the young town, serving in the civil government and as a member of the county court.

In October 1866, at the age of 30, Lemuel married a second wife, Sarah Louisa Chamberlain.  She was considered a brave, intelligent, ambitious woman and was a welcomed addition to the family.  Sarah Louisa and Keziah knew each other well.  Sarah Louisa had worked as a mother’s helper to Keziah, and when the time came, Keziah had a hand in picking Sarah Louisa as her husband’s second wife.   She liked Keziah and knew they could get along together.  In fact, they shared not only a husband but a house for the first four years of Sarah Louisa’s marriage to Lemuel.  Wilford Woodruff performed the marriage of Sarah Louisa and Lemuel, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.

Together, Lemuel and Sarah Louisa had fourteen children, though two died as babies.  They were Moriah Vilate (died as an infant), Solomon (died as an infant), Wayne Hardison, Benjamin Franklin, Terresa Artemisia, Lemuel Burton, George Edwin, Susan Elizabeth, Parley, John Wiley, Jenny May, Effie, Ancil Ray, and Hazel Lurena.

In 1870, Lemuel decided it was time his large family moved into something better able to accommodate their needs.  He purchased an unfinished brick house and a farm from his good friend John D. Lee.  He paid $4500, payable in cattle and $1500 payable in wheat for the home and land.  John agreed to let him pay it off at the rate of $500 a year.  Lemuel built the house into a duplex with an identical home on each side.  On one side lived his wife Keziah, with their 10 children, and his wife Sarah Louisa lived on the other side with their 12 children.  For 20 years they raised, loved and taught their children, endured hardships, and stayed true to the faith, living side by side.  Lemuel was happiest when he was with his family.  “Each of his children will recall days spent in the canyons, gathering and roasting pine nuts, horseback riding, camping trips, and other things that please children. It was his joy to see his children happy.” i

Scouting a Route
Lemuel Redd Sr. was not formally called to colonize the San Juan area, but his son Lemuel Redd Jr. and his young wife and baby girl were.  It was out of concern for his son’s safety and his own love for adventure that Lemuel Sr. decided to go along.  Another of Lemuel Sr.’s sons, Monroe, volunteered to join the company as well.

In the fall of 1879, Lemuel Sr., Monroe, Lemuel Jr. and his wife and daughter, joined the group of eighty families that were called by the Church to colonize the valley of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah.  This company, with wagons, teams and some loose stock, began the difficult journey of more than three hundred miles over unsettled country in early October.  Upon arriving at the banks of the Colorado River, a party of four scouts, Lemuel Redd Sr., George W. Sevy, George Hobbs and George Morrell, were called to venture ahead of the others.  Their charge was to cross the Colorado River, find the most suitable places for road building and find the San Juan River.  The weather had turned bitter cold and snow was falling.  The area they were sent to scout was rough and unexplored.  Such a large company could not safely travel through it without first knowing where to go.  The tasks appeared daunting, but these men were fearless and up to the challenge asked of them.

On December 17, 1879, the men began what they thought would be a 60 mile journey, with provisions for eight days.  Most of their journey was through snow three feet deep and through trees so dense they could hardly see where they were going.  On Christmas Day they were almost completely out of food and were utterly lost.  They were cold and discouraged.  Snow had been falling all day and they were tired.  Upon finding a clearing, they began to set up camp.  Fallen tree branches were used to brush away the snow and the freezing men gathered kindling to make a fire.  After several hours of carrying dry branches to their humble spot, they thankfully warmed their numb limbs by the soft glow of a blazing fire.  That night, Lemuel had a dream and was shown which direction they should travel.  He awoke the next morning revived and hopeful.  As they folded their blankets, he said to his companions, “‘Come with me to the top of yonder knoll and I will show you the San Juan River.’  As they stood on the spot where he had stood in his dream of the night before, their hearts were thrilled as each in his turn, with their field glasses, beheld the waters of the San Juan River shining like a silver ribbon in the sunlight.”ii

The scouting party was successful in finding what they were looking for.  Crossing it would be more treacherous.  The canyon was a “broad, long, sloping tableland of slick rock.  The surface was made up of a succession of slanting terraces, separated from each other by steep, abrupt ledges.”iii It appeared impossible to scale, especially with wagons and teams.  They stood bewildered and discouraged until something caught their eye.  Three mountain sheep could be seen leaping from ledge to ledge in what they deemed impossible to travel.  Looking at each other they exclaimed, “If the sheep can do it, we can do it!”iv  With renewed optimism, the scouts ventured back to report on their findings.

Their supposed eight-day journey took twenty-five, and during the last four days, the men were entirely without food.  On January 10, 1880 they wearily joined the anxious and worried company they had left behind.  When Lemuel returned to the company, he found letters from his family stating they were sick and in distress.  He did not continue on with the colonizers and instead, headed home immediately to aid his wife and children.  He traveled alone and it was a long, cold, dreary trip.  Upon arriving home, he found seven of his children suffering from diphtheria and was grateful to be there to comfort them and assist his wife.

Kumen Jones, one of the original pioneers of the San Juan Company, wrote the following in a letter to the Redd family: “This exploring trip made by your father [Lemuel Redd Sr.], George W. Sevy, George Morrill, and George Hobbs was the most difficult and perilous of any undertaken in the colonization of San Juan.”v  The trail these four men blazed later became a permanent road.

Persecution of Polygamists
The Edmunds Bill, banning the practice of polygamy, was passed in 1882.  With it came the right to arrest any man still practicing polygamy.  Lemuel had been sealed for time and all eternity to his wives and had no intention of deserting them because of the passing of a bill.  He would not take any more wives, but he refused to give up the ones he had.  This necessitated some major changes in family life.  For months at a time, he was forced to live in hiding or be turned in to the U.S. Marshals who were always keeping a close eye on him.  During the summer of 1887, two U.S. Marshals invaded his home in New Harmony.  Because Keziah was his first wife, it was his marriage to Sarah Louisa that the Marshals were not happy with.  Hoping to find Lemuel and Sarah Louisa together so they could haul him off to jail, they burst into the home.  Sarah Louisa had been warned they were coming, and was safely hiding in the willows nearby.  “Feeling they had been out-witted, they could do nothing but subpoena Luella and Wayne who afterwards appeared in court to testify against their father. They told their story in a straightforward way though the marshals did not get the satisfaction they wanted.”vi  Lemuel was under two indictments and the penalty for each was six months in prison and a fine of $300.

That August, Lemuel moved his son Monroe and daughters Luella and Ellen and his cattle and horses to Bluff, Utah.  He hoped the move would provide a brighter financial future in a place where he could manage his business affairs away from the watchful eyes of the law.  It was difficult to make such a move without arousing suspicion.  Lemuel’s seventeen-year-old daughter Luella rode horseback, while his fifteen-year-old daughter Ellen drove a team of cattle.  With their father safely hidden for the journey, the girls took pleasure in knowing they were doing all they could to keep their family together during such a stressful and uncertain time.  His eldest son, Lemuel Jr., met them part-way through the journey and assisted his sisters for the remaining miles.

One year later, feeling that Bluff would provide a safer dwelling for more of his family, Lemuel moved Sarah Louisa and all but four of the remaining children there.  Keziah stayed in New Harmony with her children and the four remaining children of Sarah Louisa.  Lemuel would travel back and forth between the two homes to visit his wives and children.  He could not sleep in his own home in New Harmony because it was always under surveillance.  He would camp in the hills and visit his family when he thought it was safe.  In 1891, Lemuel realized Bluff was not the safe haven he had hoped, and in search of some peace, he moved Sarah Louisa and the children to Colonia Juarez, Mexico.  From then on, he would divide his time between Utah and Mexico.

In 1895, Lemuel was in Mexico when he got word that Keziah was terribly ill and he was to rush to her as quickly as possible.  After four months of illness, his beloved Keziah passed away on May 15, 1895.  She remained patient and kind, never complaining though life gave her many reasons to.  Acting the part of mother and father during long periods of separation was a task she bore humbly and happily.  Six of her children were by her bedside when she passed away.  They spoke of her as “devoted, brave, noble and generous, saintly,” and claimed truthfully that “no harsh word ever fell from [our] mother’s lips” as she lived by her motto, “Better suffer wrong than do wrong.”vii

On March 9, 1907, Lemuel’s wife Sarah Louisa passed from this life.  In June of that year, Lemuel had a serious accident he would never fully recover from.  He fell off some steps and broke his hip.  He lived with his daughter Artemisia following the accident, until he was able to return to his home in Mexico.  He passed away on June 9, 1910 in Colonia Juarez.  At the time of his death, he had a faithful legacy of twenty living children and 104 grandchildren and great-grand children.

Church Service
Lemuel Redd had the distinct honor of escorting President Brigham Young on the last journey he would take to southern Utah.  As Captain of twenty-two men, and bearing the full responsibility for the safety and security of the Prophet of God, Lemuel escorted President Young from Bellveau to Hamilton Fort.

Lemuel Redd had a strong testimony of temple work and made great effort to be at the temple when he could.  He attended the dedication of the lower part of the St. George temple on January 1, 1877.  He returned again in April to attend the forty-seventh annual general conference and the dedication of the entire temple.  Once the temple opened, Lemuel and his family were among the first saints to do work for their own ancestors in that beautiful temple.  Though genealogical information was difficult to gather beyond a generation or two, he was keenly interested in gathering what he could and doing the temple work for his ancestors.

In 1893, with his wife Keziah, daughter Ellen, and son William, Lemuel anxiously made the long journey to Salt Lake City for the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple.  His son Monroe and daughter Caroline met them there for the historic occasion.

Lemuel Redd gave the same wholehearted commitment and support to the Church that he gave to his ever-growing family.  He served as first counselor to Bishop Wilson Daniel Pace for twenty years.  He served faithfully in the high priests’ quorum and as a seventy.  These responsibilities gave him a chance to visit various wards and attend to the needs of the members.  In 1902, he attended general conference in Salt Lake City and was ordained a patriarch.  For the remaining five years of his life, he did all he could to build the kingdom of God on the earth and be true to his priesthood responsibilities.


Researched and written for the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation by:
C.S.M. Jones LLC, Family Heritage Consulting.



Author Unknown. “History of Lemuel Hardison Redd.” Unpublished history from
            the files of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, UT.

Carter, Kate B., Our Pioneer Heritage, vols.8 and 18, Salt Lake City, UT:
Daughters of Utah Pioneers,1958-1977.

Collett, Carol Ivans. “Lemuel Hardison Redd, Pioneer of 1850.” Unpublished
history from the files of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, UT.

Embry, Jesse L. La Sal Reflections: A Redd Family Journal. Provo, Utah:
            Charles Redd Foundation,1984.

Jenson, Andrew, ed., Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A
Compilations of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Salt Lake City: D.U.P. Memorial Foundation Publishers, Reprint. Available digitally online through Brigham Young University.

Mitchell, Regina Redd. “Lemuel Hardison Redd.”  ca. 1986. Unpublished history
from the files of the Daughters of the Utah Pioners, Salt Lake City, UT.

Perkins, Cornelia Adams, Marian Gardner Nielson, and Lenora Butt Jones. Saga
of San Juan. Monticello, Utah: San Juan County Daughters of Pioneers,

i Author Unknown,“History of Lemuel Hardison Redd,” unpublished history from the files of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, UT, 7.

ii Ibid., 8.

iii Ibid.

iv Ibid.

v Ibid.

vi Lemuel Hardison Redd as directed to his daughter, Jessie L. Embry, ed., “Life Sketch of Lemuel Hardison Redd,” La Sal Reflections, Provo, Utah: Charles Redd Foundation,1984, 100.

vii Ibid., 101.

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