THE NAY FAMILY IN UTAH AND THE WEST

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A short two months after the joyous event surrounding the birth of their first child, tragedy struck this small, unsuspecting family, when on November 3, 1852, Orren was involved in a fatal accident-having been run over by a wagon.(18)  He died that same day, leaving behind Thankful and her now fatherless infant son!  It is difficult to imagine the enormity of the situation Thankful now found herself in:  a young widow faced with the challenges of being a single parent for the unforeseeable future.  What must have gone through her heart and mind, as the very next day, Thankful marked her 21st birthday!

A little more than three years past the death of her husband, Thankful, a single parent, was raising her son Joseph Dudley.  Whether out of love for her or compassion for her circumstances, Joseph Kelley, a prominent community member of the Church in Springville, Utah County, Territory of Utah, proposed marriage to Thankful as one of his plural wives, in full accordance with the practice approved of in this religious community.(19)

Circumstances being what they were for Widow Packard (Thankful) and her young child, Joseph Dudley, illustrates the benefit of plural marriage to persons such as her.  The story of Thankful’s marriage to Joseph Kelley appears to validate the notion that plural marriage was a means to blessing, protecting, and seeing to Thankful’s needs and the needs of her son within the marriage covenant.  (Whether or not such concerns crossed Thankful’s mind is purely speculative, as we have no record of her keeping a journal or a diary.)   Recorded history simply states that she accepted Joseph’s proposal, becoming his fifth wife on March 14, 1856 at 3:15 pm when Elder George A. Smith of the Council of the Twelve Apostles “sealed” them “for time and all eternity,” in Provo, Utah County, Territory of Utah.(20)  Being sealed or married for time and all eternity outside the confines of the Temple was a practice allowed by church leaders at this time in history.  Those who had the authority to seal couples for time and all eternity would visit people in their local communities and perform this ordinance of the Holy Temple on their behalf.  However, such couples were given strict orders to have this ordinance ratified by repeating it in the closest available Endowment House.  Such instructions were given to Thankful and Joseph, so after making the 40_mile trip to Salt Lake City, they had their sealing ordinance ratified within the confines of the Endowment House on Temple Square on April 22, 1856.(21,22)  Concurrent with this action, Joseph Kelly was sealed to his fourth wife, Elizabeth Potter, on the same day, to whom he had been married two years prior.

Research indicates that the sealing ordinance between Joseph Kelley and Thankful was later cancelled in order to allow for the marriage of Thankful to John Nay Jr., of Cedar Fort/Cedar Valley, Utah County, Territory of Utah.(23)  The following reasoning supports this conclusion: John Nay Jr. was the father of eight living children, at least five of which were still living at home with him, when he was abandoned by his first wife, Thirza Angelina Hale, due to a tragic chain of events.(24) Because of the circumstances in which the family of John Nay Jr. found themselves, John was probably in serious need of finding a new wife with whom to share parental responsibilities over those children who remained with him.

From the extensive research we have done, we believe that their marriage was based upon mutual need. Thankful and John were married no earlier than the year 1859 somewhere within the jurisdiction of Utah County, Territory of Utah.  Some publications and family group records indicate the date of this marriage “about 1859.”(25, 26)  Thankful assumed the care of John’s children by his first wife, Thirza Angelina Hale.  Ormus Bates Nay, one of Thirza’s children, told family members that Thankful Lucy came to take care of John Nay’s family after Thirza was gone, and that the family “thought the world” of Thankful. (27)  Using the records surrounding the divorce papers and the birth of the first child from this union as an indicator, the marriage probably occurred sometime between September 13 and December 22, 1859 in a community east of Utah Lake, probably Provo or Springville.  Their first child, Myron Winslow, was born in Springville in August 1860. (28)

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