THE NAY FAMILY IN UTAH AND THE WEST
ALONZO PUTNAM NAY
by Barbara Taylor
second great granddaughter
lonzo Putnam Nay was the first child born to John Nay Jr. and Thirza Angelina Hale. The couple had traveled from New Hampshire to Jackson County, Michigan, probably to work, and he was born there on November 23, 1835. By 1838 the family was living in Antrim, New Hampshire, where their second child, William Edwin was born. The records show that in 1841 the family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and by the summer of 1845 moved the family to join the saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. The Church records indicate that Alonzo was baptized in 1846. The saints in Nauvoo were engaged in completing the temple and given Alonzo’s age, he probably was involved in running errands and possibly keeping the construction area clean. Many young boys of Nauvoo served as “water boys” to carry water to temple workers.
The situation in Nauvoo was not good and by June 1846 the Nay family, with others, crossed the Mississippi into Iowa Territory. The Church records show that in November 1847 Alonzo’s father and mother received their patriarchal blessings in Winter Quarters and then during 1849 settled with thirty other families in an area called Harris Grove, about twenty miles from Quincy. This was to be their home for over five years which provided Alonzo with a more normal life for a young boy as there was a family garden to plant and care for, a school to attend, and probably the availability of work at one of the mills or shops. The church provided much of the social life, I’m sure, and in 1850 his father was sustained bishop of the Harris Grove Branch.
When Alonzo was the age of 16, in the spring of 1852, the call came from Brigham Young and the Church leaders to emigrate to the Salt Lake Valley. On Friday, July 16, 1852, the family joined the emigrating company led by Allen Weeks. His father, John Nay, was the captain of the Harris Grove Branch and made the report that everyone would be able to go without exception and with a good outfit. They traveled in groups of ten and the records indicate that their group consisted of 13 people, including the drivers, 1 wagon, 4 oxen, and 2 cows. It is recorded in a journal of one of the members of the company that he became ill and turned over the reins to Alonzo to drive his team for a while. I can only imagine the excitement it brought to this16 year old young man as he jumped up on the wagon and assumed the position of the driver.
The company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on Tuesday, October 12, 1852, although the Nay family with a number of the other families, including Allen Weeks, went on to the area now known as Lehi, Utah, where most of them stayed for the winter. In the spring of 1853, John and Thirza and the children along with other families moved into Cedar Valley, which is just west of Lehi. They immediately built a fort as a protection from Indians, thus the name of the settlement was Cedar Fort. Later this was reinforced with stone walls and on some records it is called Stone City.
On Sunday, April 3, 1853, the Cedar Fort Ward was organized and the records indicate that John and Thirza Nay and their children Alonzo, William, Matilda, Laura, John Brigham, and Angelina were members. The bishop was their old friend from the trip, Allen Weeks, and life was better in that they had a home, but carving a settlement out of raw land coupled with the constant trouble with the native Indians left much to be desired. A couple of times in the next few months the entire group was moved to Lehi City because of the Indian situation; the first time for two months and then later in the summer for a month. These situations were common in most of the new settlements in Utah Territory but time proved to be advantageous as the settlements, including Cedar Fort, grew more stable. The settlers built homes, planted gardens, stayed faithful to their beliefs and life got better. John Nay is shown on the 1856 Utah Statehood Census still living in Stone City (Cedar Fort), Cedar County. (1)
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