Saturday, December 8, 2012

Alexander Nephi Stephens


Alexander Nephi Stephens

Alexander Nephi Stephens was born December 11th, 1840 in Brown County, Illinois.  He was the 5th child in a family of 12 children.  His father, John Stephens, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, on March 31, 1811.  His mother, Elizabeth Briggs, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, May 9, 1812.  (Research shows the home at West Lexington, near Salisbury, North Carolina.)

He came to Ogden, Utah with his parents in 1849.  His early life was spent on his father’s farm, south of Ogden.  He received his education in the schools in that city.  He married Sarah Ellen Gheen in Salt Lake City in 1860.  From this marriage the following children were born:

                                   William Nephi            October 4, 1861        Ogden, Utah

                                   Ann Elizabeth           August 22, 1864        Ogden, Utah

                                   Geneva Ellen            October 2, 1866        Ogden, Utah

                                   John Andrew             January 4, 1869       

Nine days after the birth of John, on January 13, 1869, his wife died, leaving him with 4 small children.  On August 23, 1869, he married Amina Ann Raymond.  There were the following children born to them:     

                                   William Wallace         May 3, 1871              Ogden, Utah

                                   Sarah Amina             January 29,1875        Ogden, Utah

                                   Almira Almeda          August 10, 1877        Ogden, Utah

                                   Alexander Vaness     July 10,1880             Menan, Idaho

                                   Rebecca                   May 4, 1883              Menan, Idaho

                                   Etta Imogene            May 29, 1886            Plain City, Utah

                                   Umitilla                     March 17, 1890         Menan, Idaho  

                                   Edna                        November 27, 1891   Menan, Idaho

He married Mary Eames April 10, 1873.  They had the following children:

                                   Mary Inah                 January 6, 1874        Ogden, Utah

                                   George Royden         September 1875        Ogden, Utah

                                   Hannah Elizabeth      October 19,1875        Ogden, Utah

                                   Curtice Lee               March 16, 1881         Menan, Idaho

                                   James Leon              February 27, 1883     Menan, Idaho

                                   Amina Elmira            September 27, 1885  Menan, Idaho

                                   Grace Eames            October 10, 1887       Menan, Idaho


During the month of March in 1870, Mr. Stephens and his brother-in-law, Spencer V. Raymond, made a trip to Idaho to see the country.  On arriving at Poole’s Island, as it was called, they each took a homestead and then went back to Ogden.  Mr. Stephens sold out an left Ogden with his family and George Eames, about the 25th of June.  They arrived at Poole’s Island, later called Cedar Buttes, and now called Menan, Idaho, July 2, 1879 and commenced at once to build houses and establish a home.

At this time, the Upper Snake River Valley was in Oneida County.  The county seat was at Oxford, and the county included all the land from the Utah line on South and to the Montana north line.  In the winter of 1883, the Menan town-site was surveyed by Andrew Anderson.  It was the first Town-site laid out in that part of the state.  Eagle Rock was the nearest market.  Here Anderson Brothers maintained a general merchandise store, a stage barn, and a toll bridge across the Snake River.

During the late summer and fall of 1879, a disastrous fire swept the mountains from Soda Springs to Yellowstone Park, burning practically everything in its path.  That winter the deer and elk, because of the lack of food and because of the severity of the weather, came down into the valley and were often found eating at the feed lots with the cattle.  At that time, the country abounded with black and white tailed deer.  The black tail were found around the Big Buttes and white tail were found in great numbers in the river bottoms and in the lava beds west of the Buttes.  Mr Stephens was an expert marksman and loved to hunt and fish.  In addition to deer, other game, such as moose, elk, grizzly bear, game birds, etc. were plentiful.

There was an old Indian living at Menan with his tribe.  Mr. Stephens was able to talk the Indian language and heard many tales from the old man.  The Indian told of the time when there used to be herds of buffalo roaming the country.  That was years ago, he said, before a “Big” winter killed them all.  As proof of the tale, there were what was called “Buffalo Wallows” where many buffalo heads and bones were found.

During the spring and summer of 1880, Mr. Stephens and his family built fences and out buildings and started to build a canal.  With the help of JR Poole, he surveyed the land with a spirit level.  This canal was later incorporated and was known as the Long Island Irrigation Co.  It was the first canal built in Southeastern Idaho, and is still in use as first surveyed.

When they arrived at Menan, the land was covered with blue grass and rye grass and was hard to break and plow.  In the spring of 1881, they managed to plow about 20 acres of land and planted 15 acres of oats and the balance to wheat.  The wheat froze, but the oats matured and were cut with a cradle and bound by hand.  For several years there was frost practicaly every month.  This was before Rexburg was settled.  Mr. Stephens was one of the first to buy farm machinery.  First he had what was called the “Dropper”, next he purchased the self rake, and later purchased a “Binder”.  In 1885, he bought some fruit trees from the Geneva Nursery Co. and planted the first apple trees in Menan.  They were mainly Duchess and Wealthy apples.  They didn’t bear fruit for a number of years on account of frost.
Alexander N. Stephens was a man liked by all that knew him.  He came to Idaho when he was 39 years of age.  He was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 185 pounds.  He had blue eyes, dark hair and fair skin.  He was in excellent health most of his life.  He was a good carpenter, and builder and a good farmer.  He took an active part in the community affairs, and was an exemplary man in every respect.  He helped pioneer the new country, assisting in building schoolhouses, churches, roads and bridges.  He was a faithful member of the LDS Church, and an ardent Republican.

In the early days, there were no doctors and he was called on to administer to the sick and often set bones, pulled teeth etc.  This he did cheerfully.  In his business dealings he was honest and could always be depended upon.  He died very suddenly January 17, 1916 of heart trouble and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery.  At the time of his death, he was 75 years of age

                                                                  Written by W.N. Stephens

                                                                  December 1, 1937



In this history Uncle Bill failed to state that due to the government passing a law against plural marriage, then practiced by Mormons, Grandfather was arrested by the Federal Marshall and trial held in Blackfoot, Idaho.  He was found guilty and sentenced to 6 months in State Prison at Boise, Idaho.  This he served in miserable circumstances.  The Federal Marshall, Fred T. DuBois, was very severe on the Mormons at that time and they suffered a great deal.

                                                                  Vera E. Stephens Hunter

                                                                  March 14, 1973

                                                                  Daughter of William W. Stephens


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