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Bio - William Horne Dame Received from Carma Gallegos Owen



William Horne Dame, 1819-1884

William Horne Dame was born 15 July 1819 in Farmington, Stafford County, New Hampshire to Jeremiah and Susan Horne Dame. He came from a background of strong civil service as his father served as a Representative and Senator in State Legislature. William followed in the tradition of his father to become one of the most influential men in Utah.

From a very early age, Dame was greatly influenced by his Uncle Janvrin Hayes Dame. Janvrin introduced William to his wife's sister, Lovinna Andrews, and the two were married in 1838. It was at that time that William Dame began teaching school. Janvrin and his wife Sophia Andrews had been baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1835 and they introduced the Church to the young couple. In 1841, after three years of marriage, William and Lovinna were baptized by Elder Samuel H. Gurley.

In 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith called William to Nauvoo, Illinois, and William and Lovinna responded. On 7 October of that year William was ordained to the Eighth Quorum of the Seventy and he served intermittently on the construction of the Nauvoo Temple for the next two years. The young church was heavily persecuted and Dame reflected this persecution in 1846 when he wrote, "I asked them to bring aught against me, [but] they could not[.] My Fathers fought for liberty in those land[s], ah where is it[.] Father thy will be done on earth[.] Help me to do right." Persecution became so great that the members were forced to leave their homes in Nauvoo and move West. William and Lovinna reached the Great Basin in September 1848, just a little more than a year after the first wagon trains led by Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley.

In 1850, William and Lovinna responded to a call to settle in Southern Utah. Elder George A. Smith received the same call and he and William remained close throughout their lives. During the journey south, Dame was made Order Sergeant of the Iron County Militia. He was soon named county surveyor and on 16 May 1851, he was named Mayor of Parowan. A month later on 27 June 1851, Dame received a military promotion, moving from 1st Sergeant of Company A of the Iron County Militia to 1st Lieutenant.

In the late summer of 1851, William and Lovinna returned to Salt Lake City to received their endowments and sealings in the Endowment House on 15 September. The next spring, in April of 1852, Dame was called by acting Stake President John C. L. Smith to establish a tannery at Red Creek, four and a half miles north of Parowan. Once there, the Dames and six other families built a fort which they called Fort Dame. William was called to be bishop of the new community, which was later renamed Paragonah.

During Dame's two-year call as Bishop, on 7 May 1852, Brigham Young visited southern Utah to organize a Stake High Council. At that time, Dame, who was still the Mayor of Parowan "and also the Presiding Elder of Paragonah" became part of the High Council of the Parowan Stake of Zion. He was set apart by George A. Smith, Orson Pratt and Wilford Woodruff.

Because of increasing difficulty with Indians, Paragonah was abandoned on 3 August 1853. William and Lovinna, along with the other settlers, were forced to move back to Parowan. Soon after the move, William embraced plural marriage by marrying Virginia Lovina Newman on 18 May 1854, according to Harold W. Pease. Two years later, on 10 February 1856, William took a third wife when he married Sarah Ann Carter. In September of that year, he was sealed to Virginia and Sarah Ann by Brigham Young in the Endowment House, where he had been sealed to Lovinna eighteen years earlier.

Shortly after William's marriage to Virginia, on 27 May, 1854, Dame was promoted to Colonel of the Zion Military District of the Nauvoo Legion. This was the highest military position in Iron County and Dame was elected by unanimous voice. On 7 August of the same year, he was further elected to his first term as Representative to the Utah Territorial Legislature. While immersed in public service, Dame was called to be the Stake President of the Parowan Stake on 16 January 1856. He called Calvin C. Pendleton and Jesse N. Smith to be his counselors.

Dame maintained a close relationship with Brigham Young, even while in Southern Utah. In the early months of 1857, Dame and 113 other men, mainly Nauvoo Legionnaires, were called to accompany President Young to the Oregon Territory (now Idaho). They took Chief Arapeen with them to convince the northern Indians of the honest intent of the Mormons. While in the Oregon Territory, the group visited several Bannock and Shoshone tribes, as well as Church members in Limhi.

During that same year of 1857, a group of emigrants from Arkansas and Missouri began their journey to California. They passed through Salt Lake City in late August and then south. The company was known as the Fancher Party, named after its captain, Charles Fancher. As they journeyed southward, the Fancher Party joined a group known as the Missouri Wildcats. As this was happening, several thousand U.S. troops were marching toward Utah with the purpose of putting down the supposed "Mormon Rebellion" and Brigham Young had proclaimed martial law.

The Fancher Party and the Missouri Wildcats were hostile toward the Mormons and behaved offensively in the Mormon communities they passed through. They insulted church leaders and boasted of their participation in both the Haun's Mill Massacre in Missouri, (October 1838), and in the murder of Joseph Smith. One man even claimed ownership of the gun that killed the Mormon Prophet. Some threatened that upon their arrival in California, an army would be formed and they would return to kill all the Mormons, just as they had killed Joseph Smith.

In reaction to such threats, the Mormons refused to sell the company food or supplies. The emigration company stopped to rest their livestock at Mountain Meadows, southwest of Cedar City, before the final leg of their journey. There, they were attacked by a group of Indians and Mormons. One hundred and twenty men, women and children of the emigrant company were killed. Only eighteen children were preserved from the vicious attack.

At the time of the massacre, Dame was the local Colonel of the Nauvoo Legion and also served as Stake President of the region. Given his military and ecclesiastic standing in the Mountain Meadows area and the military and ecclesiastical nature of the massacre, Dame could not escape unscathed from the event. Scholars continue to debate the extent of his involvement in the actual massacre. Numerous men were excommunicated for involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but only John D. Lee was brought to trial for it. Dame was acquitted of all involvement in the massacre on 12 August 1858. Lee was not so fortunate. He was convicted and taken to the sight of the massacre on 23 March 1877, nearly twenty years after the massacre, and was shot by a firing squad.

Anticipating the worst during the Utah War, Elder George A. Smith sent a letter to Dame dated 24 February 1858, stating: "Fillmore, Beaver, and Parowan will be expected to send some men into the Desert west, to find some hiding places, put in some grain & C...Ten to 15 men from each settlement will probably be the numbered [sic] required." Brigham Young was sure there were some large strips of desert in the southwest part of the Utah Territory (present-day Nevada). He felt these locations could be used as hiding places for up to half a million people or else could be used to hide large armies.

In response to Elder Smith's letter, Dame organized a company of sixty to sixty-five persons. They left on 24 April 1858 from Iron Springs. Unfortunately, the "Mission to the Desert," as it became known, did not produce the effects Brigham Young had hoped for because no great hiding places were found. While exploring, however, the company found many natural resources: Nephi Springs, Cane Springs, Desert Spring Wells, Desert Swamp and Desert Swamp Springs, Onion Spring, Deep Springs, Lone Rock Canyon, Johnson's Lake, Rush Lake, Pinnacle Peak, Cricket Spring, and Rose Springs, to name a few.

In late January of 1860, Dame recorded a dream he had had: "I dreamed I was in England on a preaching mission ... I had the privilege [sic] of speaking upon the principles of the gospel as taught by the Latter-day Saints." In March of that year, during a visit to Parowan, Elder Amasa Lyman informed Dame of his mission call to England. Prewarned, Dame quickly mobilized to leave Parowan by 20 April 1860. Of that day he recorded: "Now came the time when I had to take my Wives by the hand and press the kiss of parting on their lips mid floods of tears, with a God bless you till I return. To leave them and pass through the crowd to the carriage. It seemed like my heart would burst, O my God bless us and preserve us to meet again on earth in peace, and to so live that we may all be worthy of life eternal and an increase without end."

Dame left Salt Lake City for England on 1 May. While in England, Dame was called to preside over a Conference in Manchester, where he served nearly all of his mission. After six months in England, on 12 November, 1860, Dame received a letter from his wife Sarah Ann stating that she was going to California with friends. Dame was disheartened by this news, recognizing that his third wife was leaving him. At that time he recorded: "Sorrowful news to me, Father in Heaven into thine hands have I dedicated us all over rule for our good, I pray."

Dame was released from his mission on 8 April 1862, due to ill health. When he left England on 14 May, he took an eight year old girl with him named Rachel Pass. Dame had become acquainted with the Pass family while serving in their branch. William T. Davenport, son of Rachel Pass recounted the story: "When brother Dame was ready to be released, he asked Grandma Pass for one of the girls, to take back to Utah with him. It didn't take her long to make up her mind. She looked at her family of 9 girls and a boy and said 'take your pick brother Dame'[.] He chose Rachel, my Mother, the 6th child of the family who was then 8 years old, Grandma said it would be the means of the family coming over when they got able." At this point, Dame had had no children with any of his wives. Rachel lived with the Dame's until she was twenty years old when she married James Burrows Davenport. The Pass family later left England except for the third daughter, Sarah, who hid because she did not want to leave her boyfriend. The Pass family settled in Nephi, Utah. In addition to keeping and providing for Rachel Pass, William Dame and his wives raised William Albert McBride, the father of Lillis Spencer who is the donor of this collection. They also raised Mable McBride, William's sister.

Dame returned to Parowan in late October, 1862 and soon resumed his duties as Stake President and Colonel in the Nauvoo Legion. On 5 October 1866, he was appointed postmaster of the city of Parowan and that same year he was called to be the Tithing Agent of the Parowan Stake. Two years later, Dame was called to be the President of the Parowan class of the School of the Prophets. The next month, on 1 December, 1868, he married Lydia Ann Killian in the Salt Lake Endowment House. At that time William was forty-nine years old and Lydia was seventeen.

In 1874, agitation over the Mountain Meadows Massacre was revived and on 18 November Dame was arrested at his home in Parowan. He was promptly taken to the Salt Lake Penitentiary and was not able to return to Parowan until late January 1876, when he was allowed to visit his wives under guard. His visit was short and he soon returned to prison, this time in Beaver, Utah. Not long after that visit, Dame's fourth wife Lydia left him. She was gone by the 24th when Dame signed the divorce papers, and she may have left even earlier.

On 8 May 1876, after eighteen months of imprisonment, Dame went to trial in Beaver. At this time, his bail was set at twenty thousand dollars, higher than the bail for any other man charged in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. After a long trial, Dame was acquitted of the charges on 10 October 1878. The next day theDeseret Newsprinted: "the District Court of Beaver quashed the indictment against William H. Dame as the judge could not find anything to criminate him." The following day he was released. Harold W. Pease wrote of Dame's confinement: "Comparably few men in history can know or appreciate the feelings of freedom as could the alleged Parowan murderer. Twenty-two months of nearly constant confinement might well have broken any man. Records are insufficient to establish the true feelings of Dame during his confinement. What few writings there are strongly suggest complete optimism as to a release and a constant cheerful disposition throughout the confinement." After Dame's release from prison he was re-elected to be County Recorder. He retained this position for the remainder of his life. In March of 1880, he was released as President of the Parowan Stake, a position he had held for twenty-four years, even while in England and in prison.

In the summer of 1880, Sarah Ann Carter (Dame), the wife who had left Dame while he was serving his mission in England, returned to Parowan asking for a bill of divorcement. At that time they had been separated for more than twenty years. It is not known whether or not the request was granted. In 1880, Dame was struck with an illness that continued for nearly four years. Yet, in spite of his ill health, he remained active in his religious and civic duties. On Friday, 15 August 1884, he suffered paralysis of the brain while at home writing letters. At 8:45 p.m that evening, he quietly died, at the age of sixty-five. The local paper recorded: "there are few men better known than Brother William H. Dame being a man of great public worth and notable for his honesty and uprightness with his fellowman. He leaves a family and numerous friends to mourn his loss."

Two days later, funeral services were held for William Horne Dame. On that day, Harold W. Pease stated: "Thirty-seven wagons heavily loaded with residents followed to the cemetery where Dame's body was finally laid to rest and thus the life of a man, who had a greater influence upon southern Utah's early development than any other ended."


Owner/SourceCarma Gallegos Owen
Linked toWilliam Horne Dame

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