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History of John Henry Spencer; Jerushia Kibbe Elmer and Lucy Lodica Elmer written by Edith Hamilton Stanton

Provided by Blaine Spencer of Payson, Utah in 2006

Jerushia Kibbe Elmer was born in Lee County, Iowa, on May 10th 1842*.  She was the daughter of John Elmer and Harriet Gould. Jerushia’s middle name is the maiden name of her grandmother Mary Kibbe.  Mary Kibbe married William Elmer and they were the parents of John Elmer, who was born on the 22nd of September 1776, at Sommers, Tolland County, Connecticut.  Jerushia’s father John was first married to Sarah Polly Peake and they had nine children. The family left Vermont in the spring of 1838 to follow the main body of the church.  Sorrow came into their lives along the way, as Sarah and their son Samuel died at Orean, Vinton County, Ohio (some histories say Indiana).  They continued on to Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, where they built a log home.  In a short time, their home caught on fire burning all their possessions.  In the year of 1841, John married the widow Mrs. Harriet Gould Brunson and moved their families in together.  In a short time, the family sold out and moved across the river to Lee County, Iowa.   It is here that John and Harriet became the parents of two daughters; Jerushia born 10th of May 1842*, and Lucretia being born on the 28th of August 1845. In 1846, the family moved on to Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.  It is here that Lucretia died on the 12th of September 1846.

Jerushia came to Utah in a covered wagon in the year 1852.  At only ten years of age, she had the responsibility of driving a team, consisting of an ox and a cow, with a small calf which they carried in the wagon.  Her mother was driving another wagon while her father rode along side on horseback.  Jerushia remembered always, the time a black prairie wolf followed alongside their wagon for many miles, often howling as it followed.     At the age of sixteen, she married John Spencer, from England***.  He was the son of Richard Spencer and Mary Earnshaw. They came to Utah also in the year 1852.  John was born on August 29th 1835**.  And Jerushia was born on the 10th of May 1842*.  Jerushia and John were married in Payson, Utah County, Utah on the 4th of July 1858.  That same day two other couples also were married; John's brother, Richard, who married Lucy Lodica Elmer, and Richard and John’s sister Rachel Spencer who married John Kay of Mona.  On the 29th of May 1860, John and Jerushia were sealed in the Endowment House.  They later became the parents of fourteen children.     Richard Spencer and his wife Lucy Lodica attended a dance soon after their marriage, and being over warm and perspiring, he left the hall and laid down on a pile of wood to cool off.  Results were that he contacted lung fever, and in three weeks from his marriage date, he was dead.  Before he died, Richard made John promise that he would marry Lucy and give him a family. After two years, John and Lucy were married into polygamy.  To this union ten children were born.  And on seven occasions, the two wives had children the same year.     

While residing in Payson, there first deed shows them living in the center of town, on the corner of first East and first South.  Their next deed shows them being on the West side of town between 7th and 8th west. They had property on both sides of Utah Avenue.  Both wives helped in clearing away debris and rocks by carrying them in their aprons.  Then they planted the orchard and garden.     In July of 1874, Brigham Young sent for John to be set apart as the Presiding Elder of Sanpete County, (Indianola) and to act as an interpreter between the Indians and the Whites.  Moving his family to Indianola, he helped to settle the country and played an important part in bringing peace to the two peoples.  He filled the role of Bishop for twelve years.  Many times he was called upon to help make peace with the Indians, traveling to various parts of the state.  He was never known to hesitate about entering the Indian's camps alone, no matter how hostile they were.  Many times his life was threatened, and he came close to being scalped.     Jerushia while living in Indianola, served as a midwife to Indians and Whites alike.  She had brought over two hundred babies into the world and helped the mothers as well.  She sewed and helped the squaws in every way she possibly could.  Lucy Lodica, who was actually her niece, helped in these endeavors.  Both wives cooked and served large banquets, which John invited the Indians to attend.  Often they would barbecue a whole beef, and also bake bread and pastry for the event.  Along with many of the other saints, John was later prosecuted for practicing polygamy.  He was sentenced for a term of four months in prison, in September of 1888 and he wasn't released until February of 1889.  His family suffered and sustained themselves through the coldest winter they had experienced.  But they believed in the principles of polygamy as it was taught at that time.

John died in Indianola, on August 20th 1891, of Black Jaundice.  He was 56 years of age.  The night of his death, Indians came from miles around and gathered at his home.  Kneeling around his bedside waiting, they cried, "We have lost our great white father."


Jerushia never lost her fear of the Indian’s; many times they would ask her for her children.  She would hide them when the Indian’s came with their war paint on and there were times when she would give them all the bread that she had made for her large family.  The children would go without.  They suffered many hardships.

     Jerushia was left with five children under the age of eighteen when John died, and they all had many years of hard work and hardships.  She was a loving and patient mother; she raised a large family of hard working and kind children.  She was also a beautiful woman.

     Jerushia passed away March 28th 1922 at the age of 80.  She died at her daughter Roxanna’s home in Springville, Utah.  John and Jerushia are both buried at the Payson City Cemetery (Block 20 – Plot 22 – Lots 8 and 10).

Notes from Blaine Spencer (2006):  *Jerushia’s birthday is yet to be proven.  This history written by her granddaughter Edith Hamilton Stanton has it as May 10th 1842, but her headstone has it as May 10th 1844.  I am inclined to go with this history date, because Edith was seven years old before Jerushia died, and knew her personally.  It also shows her as being sixteen when married, which would make the 1842 year right.  Also, the 1860 census shows her as being 19, and depending on which month it was taken, would make the 1842 year correct.  So until we can find her actual birth date, I will go with 1842 as her birth year. 

** John’s headstone has his birth date as the 29th of August 1836, but church records show him being christened on the 11th of October 1835, so this birth date is a year off. It also shows him having the middle name of Henry, but his christening record does not have it recorded there, so this is something he added at some time in his life. 

*** The Spencer and Elmer families were both at Council Bluffs for several years at the same time, so I’m pretty sure that they knew each other before coming to Utah .  Both families appear on the 1850 census at Council Bluffs. They also lived across the road from each other in Payson.  


Owner/SourceBlaine Spencer
Date2006
Linked toJerusha Kibbe Elmer; Lucy Lodica Elmer; John Henry Spencer

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