THE NAY FAMILY IN UTAH AND THE WEST
JOHN HYRUM NAY
by Sylvia Ackerman Cook
It is a great honor for me to write the history of my pioneer Great grandfather John Hyrum Nay.
ohn Hyrum Nay was born on March 12, 1845. (1) He was the fifth child to be born to his parents. I’m sure he was welcomed by his older brothers and sisters. They were, Alonzo, William, Matilda, and Laura. His father, John Nay Jr. born in Peterborough, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, and his mother, Thirza Angelina Hale born in Brandon, Rutland, Vermont, were converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Peterborough. His family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois in 1845 to join the main body of the church. There is a question as to whether he was born in New Hampshire or Illinois. We know that his parents were in Nauvoo for a short period of time before leaving for Iowa. On the 1870 Census, John states his birthplace as Illinois; however, in other census records his birthplace is listed as New Hampshire. (2)
When the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo in 1846, the Nay family fled to Council Bluffs, Iowa. They settled in an area called Harris Grove. Later John Hyrum’s father, John Nay Jr., was called as Bishop of the Harris Grove Branch. The family lived in a sod hut in Iowa. John Nay Jr. farmed and helped other Saints get ready to make the trip to Utah. Three more brothers were born in Iowa: Joseph, and twins, Ormun and Ormus. Ormun died one month after his birth. (3)
It wasn’t until 1852 when John Hyrum Nay was seven years old that the family came to Utah. As Bishop, John Nay Jr. was in charge of getting his branch ready for the trek west. He was a captain in the Allen Weeks company. I can imagine what an exciting journey that must have been for a seven-year-old boy!
According to the journal of the trip by Evan Greene, the group encountered Indians, hunted buffalo, and several died along the way of cholera. Several references are made in the Greene journal about John Nay Jr. (4)
When they arrived in Salt Lake in the fall of 1852 the Nays were sent to Cedar Valley. (5) On September 3, 1854, Angeline Relief, the ninth child of John and Thirza was born. (6) John Hyrum was the middle child in his family with 4 older and 4 younger brothers and sisters. It was at this same time that the Black Hawk Indian raids were going on. The Nays settled in the small community of Cedar Fort. The town was named “Cedar Fort” because small cedar trees were growing there and were used to build the walls of their fort. It didn’t take the settlers long to note that the cedar fort didn’t give the needed protection and it was soon replaced by a stone fort. I like to imagine my two grandfathers building that wall, one a man and one yet a boy. The settlers of Cedar Fort were forced to abandon the town and flee to Lehi at least three times because of Indian raids. One of the walls of the stone fort is still standing today.
In 1857 Johnston’s Army was sent to Utah. They settled five miles south of Cedar Fort and built Camp Floyd. John Hyrum probably felt more fear than protection from having the military so close. Several of the residents of Cedar Fort including the Nays had crops damaged by the soldiers of Camp Floyd.
By 1861 the Nays were living in Springville where John married Thankful Lucy Pine, and subsequently moved to Pine Valley, Utah, also known as part of the Dixie mission.
Laura Marinda Burgess Nay, John Hyrum’s wife, was born April 10, 1852 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her parents were Samuel “I” Burgess and Marinda Hartwell. Samuel Burgess was born in England in 1826 and joined the Mormon Church in 1836 with his parents. Both Samuel and his parents owned property in Nauvoo. His father’s property was damaged by the mob. The Burgess and Nay families were endowed in the Nauvoo temple on the same day in 1846 and then fled to Iowa. Samuel met Marinda Hartwell from Granville, New York, in Council Bluffs. They married in 1850 and traveled to Salt Lake that summer with his parents settling in Salt Lake City where Laura was born in 1852. The Burgess family moved to Cottonwood, Lehi, and then to the Dixie mission settling in Pine Valley in 1860.
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