Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grandpa Welcome, The Friend/December 1993 by Myrna Hoyt, based on a history written by the author’s grandmother (edited by Scott Hepworth)

Welcome Chapman, sixth generation American, was born 24 July 1805 in Reedsboro, Bennington, Vermont, the fifth of nineteen children born to Benjamin and Sibyl Amidon Chapman.  Earliest known American ancestors were born in the late 1500’s and early 1600s.  I do not know for sure when Welcome was baptized, but while still a young man, Welcome heard rumors of a Joseph Smith, who was living in western New York, and who claimed to have a golden book that was given to him by an angel, and to have had visions and revelations.  He also claimed that he had seen Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.  He said that They had instructed him to organize a new church. 

After thinking a lot about it, Welcome decided to find out for himself whether what he’d heard was true.  The article in The Friend says, “Against the wishes of his parents, he saddled his horse and rode two hundred miles to New York.  When he found the Prophet Joseph Smith, he discovered that they were about the same age.  Welcome heard a complete account of all that had happened to Joseph, including how he obtained and translated the records on the golden plates, and was very much impressed with the Prophet and his wonderful experiences.  He stayed two weeks at the home of the Prophet, learning all he could of the gospel.  Convinced that this was the true religion, Welcome was baptized.”  If this occurred before he married, it is possible it may have been as early as 1830, when he was 25. 

At age 26, he married Susan Amelia Risley in 1831 in Madison, Madison, New York.  Susan was born 24 August 1807 in Madison, Madison, New York, the 4th of 12 children born to Elizur and Amelia Matson Risley.   Susan was a 7th generation American.  Her ancestors had arrived in the 1630s from England. 

According to Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude, by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, p. 540, Susan learned to sew, knit, tat, embroider, and weave cloth on a loom.  She could card, spin wool, and flax, braid and make hat cut out.  According to PW of F&F, she was married to Welcome in 1832.  Their first children were twins who died shortly after birth.  Then another daughter was born to them.  Shortly after, the Chapman’s heard about the Church of Jesus Christ and were baptized, which would put their baptism possibly as late as 1834.

Because of his activities in the Church and the esteem Joseph Smith had for him, he was made one of the prophet’s bodyguards. 

One time while he was away on guard duty, a mob went to their home and told his wife that if there was anything in the house that she wanted, to get it out before they burned the house down.  Sick at heart, she got everything out while the mob looked on.  The cupboard was so heavy that she couldn’t move it alone, so one of the men helped her get it out.  Then, while she and the children watched, the mobbers burned the house to the ground. 

They joined with the Saints in Nauvoo, hoping for safety there, but the persecution soon began again.  Welcome and his family passed through many of the trials, persecutions, and other hardships that fell upon the Church and its members at that time.

Welcome was a stonecutter, so when he was living in Kirtland, he was called to cut stone for the Kirtland Temple.  Later, when the Saints were building the Nauvoo Temple, he cut stone for it.  And it was in the Nauvoo Temple that many Saints, including Welcome, received their endowments. 

The Saints were driven out of Nauvoo in the early spring of 1846, and they began their long trek westward.  After they crossed the Mississippi River, they settled for a time in Garden Grove.  Welcome and his family spent the first winter at Winter Quarters.  That next spring, Welcome was appointed captain over the fourth company, which arrived at Salt Lake in the late summer of 1847.  They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and found many in need of the seed they had brought with them, and they were happy to share, keeping only enough to have seed the next spring.

In 1849, Chief Walker Ute Indian chief, met in council with President Brigham Young.  He requested the Mormon leader to send colonists to settle on their land.  Welcome and his family went to help settle the town of Manti in the Sanpete Valley.

On July 27, 1854, Welcome was sustained as the Manti Stake President.  That afternoon, as they were baptizing some settlers who had been converted, a large crowd gathered.  Among them was Chief Walker and many of his people.  Welcome asked the chief is any of his people would like to be baptized.  The chief replied that he did not know but would ask them.  That day many Indians were baptized there.

Susan was called as the first president of the Relief Society of Manti.  She was skilled in the use of herbs, roots, bark, and medicine and her services were in demand.  She was always willing to help in cases of sickness and acted as a mid-wife for many years.  She even helped bring some of her own grandchildren into the world. 

After serving as Manti Stake President for eight years, Welcome was called by President Young on a mission to cut stone for the Salt Lake Temple, which he did until he was seventy-five years old.

Susan died in Fountain Green, Sanpete, Utah, at the age of 81, on 18 Feb 1888.  Five years later, Welcome died 9 Dec 1893, at the age of 88 also in Fountain Green, Sanpete, Utah.  

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