THE NAY FAMILY IN UTAH AND THE WEST
Situated in a basin near the top of the Pine Valley Mountains, Pine Valley is about five miles long and two miles wide. The soil there was rich and productive and nearby timber made it an ideal spot for saw mills. About ten years earlier in the summer of 1855, Isaac Riddle was tending the collective Church herds. When it was noticed that a cow was missing, Riddle rode out looking for the stray, and as he came up over a rise he saw the small valley for the first time in all its early morning splendor. He later described it thus, “There stretching before me was the most beautiful sight I had ever beheld on God’s green earth.”
In comparing the lushness of Pine Valley to the Nay family’s previous homes in the barren brush of Cedar Valley or the flat Iowa plains, this too may have been a “most beautiful sight” for John. In Pine Valley, John and Thankful’s family grew to include four more sons: George John, born July 24, 1862 in St. George; Ormun Russell born March 23, 1865 in Pine Valley; Elmer Carr born June 9, 1867 in Pine Valley; Samuel, born and died in 1869 also in Pine Valley.
On most census records, John’s occupation during this time was listed as “farmer.” However, a map of the old “upper” town of Pine Valley shows the “Nay house” up “Nay Creek Canyon.” And because Harrison Burgess owned a sawmill at the foot of the same canyon, it is probable that John and at least some of his sons worked as loggers. About 1865, the small village was becoming too crowded so residents relocated further down the canyon to the “lower” town site, to what we know today as the town of Pine Valley. We note here, the name of “Nay Canyon” still appears on U. S. Forest Service maps in the Pine Valley section of the Dixie National Forest.
On Sunday, March 15, 1874 presiding elder, Erastus Snow, organized Pine Valley into a branch of the United Order. Later on June 5, at a routine conference of the St. George Stake, names of ward and stake leaders were read for a sustaining vote, including William Snow as Pine Valley bishop. Seven men, including John Nay, opposed sustaining Snow. Eleven days later on June 16, leaders met with the seven men who “presented their grievances,” resulting in a unanimous vote sustaining Bishop Snow. We don’t know the cause of the negative votes, but organization of the United Order in Pine Valley a few months earlier could have led to differences of opinion; and whatever those differences were, they were resolved.
The 1880 U. S. Federal Census for Pine Valley, Utah, records John Nay, age 76 living with a wife, Sarah O. age 37, and two children, Sarah J, and Orson P. Immediately following this entry, the record shows Thankful Nay and her four sons living next door to John and Sarah, and Thankful’s status is recorded as “widowed.” Considerable research into this “new” wife of John’s has produced no credible leads or information on her or the children. In the opinion of this writer, this union was a ruse purposely portrayed to the census taker to avoid prosecution during the height of the federal raids against practicing polygamists. And it is possible that “Sarah O.” was the polygamist doing the hiding. Sarah O. and her two children seem to have vanished as quietly as they appeared, and John and Thankful continued to live together until their deaths.
In 1888, John and Thankful left Pine Valley for Circleville, Utah. Their church membership records were recorded in the Circleville Ward on December 16, 1888. The same record also shows they later ‘removed’ to Monroe, Utah, but no date is given.
John passed away on October 1, 1892 in Monroe, Utah at age 88. He was laid to rest in the Monroe City cemetery October 3, 1892. Thankful continued on, living with her children, until July 29, 1897 when she died in Circleville, Utah and was buried beside John on July 31, 1897.
The only known photo of John Nay Jr. is included herein. Family lore suggests that as John lay in bed near death, someone realized there was no suitable photo of him. To correct the situation, about a week before he died (others say it was the day he died) he was dressed in his suit, propped up in bed, and photographed. (The photo appears on page 26.)
Virtually nothing is known of Thirza for a period of time after 1858. However, a letter written in 1892 and signed by a “Mrs. T. A. Marley” (or Morley ) from Monroe, Utah was sent to the Nevada State Board of Pardons, pleading for the early release of her son Ormus Bates Nay from prison. (For a more detailed account of this, and a copy of the letter, see chapter 8 on Ormus Bates Nay.) From the contents of the letter we can easily assume “Mrs. T. A. Marley” was Thirza Angelina, with another married surname.
After learning of Thirza’s 1858 excommunication, application was made to restore her temple blessings. A baptism date was needed for this ordinance, and the LDS Temple Department selected a rebaptism performed by proxy on August 12, 1980 in the Salt Lake Temple as her official rebaptism. Her temple blessings were restored on October 6, 1992 in the Salt Lake Temple. 
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