IIGEORGE WASHINGTON SEVEY, Jr. 1832-1902
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Orson Pratt Brown's Good Friend
George Washington Sevey, Jr.
George Washington Sevy (Seavey, Sevey)
Fruit farmer. .Source: The George Francis Sevey Family Book of Remembrance
George Washington Sevey, Jr. was born as a twin on February 25, 1832, in Leroy, Genesee County, New York, to George Francis Sevey and Hannah Libby. He had a twin sister, Sarah Ann Sevy (Delawater). He had a brother, John Franklin Sevey b. Dec 16, 1833, and two other sisters, Hannah M. Sevy (Knowles) b. May 25, 1836 and Lucy Elvira Sevy b. Sep 1, 1838. As a grown man, he stood about five feet eleven inches tall, of medium build, leaning a little toward the slender side. He had blue eyes, a heavy shock of dark hair, with a rather swarthy complexion and a luxurious beard, rounded just a mite on the end. Many people described him as a handsome man, but whether or not he was, he did have a magnetic personality; he had many friends, and was a friend in return.
It might be well to mention a few of the many vocations and avocations at which he was indeed successful. Although he had had only about six months of actual formal schooling, he seemed to have been a college graduate. His writing was truly legible and his leadership >qualifications were outstanding. He was good at making brooms, shoes, farming, stock raising (cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, and chickens), freighting, mining, peddling, merchandising, operating harvest machinery, building dams, canals, roads, land promoting, saw milling, threshing, railroad grading, constructing reservoirs, dairying and he had the magical green thumb-anything he planted grew. He was a master woodsman?few men could compete with him and his axe. He was a person of the highest moral character; his every act was directed toward the inner circle of his prescribed ethical and religious standards.
He emigrated to the west in a company of gold-seekers enroute to California, arriving in Utah about 1849. He then procured a job, intending to work until winter was over, then proceed on to the coast. However, he took up with the Mormons and remained with them, going from Salt Lake City, to Spanish Fork.
"A miracle converted me," confessed Bishop Sevy in one of his rare sermon ventures, "but it has not taken a miracle to keep me converted. The testimony it left with me is my choicest possession and burns ever brighter as the days pass.
"I left my home to take part in the gold rush to California in '49. Had my job as teamster for a party of goldseekers held out, I would probably be there today among the discouraged and abandoned miners that fill the state. But the Lord intervened in a way that was hard to take at the time. I fell so sick that I could not continue with my party, nor could they wait for me to get well. They left me at a wayside camp, and pushed on without me. I probably would have died, but a following party picked me up and carried me with them to Utah."
Stranded Among the Mormons!
"Before reaching Salt Lake City, I had heard much of the Mormons, but nothing favorable, so naturally I was determined not to tarry among them. But being left stranded in Salt Lake City by the second party, I had no choice. I accepted work from one good Mormon brother who needed some teams taken to Palmyra where a group of Saints were struggling to begin a new community. While waiting for a chance to return, I took board and lodgings with a good sister who taught me the Gospel by the way she lived it. Under her influence my steeled heart softened, and favorable impressions of the Mormons and their teachings crept in, despite my resolves though you may be sure I took elaborate care to let no one know of it.
"One night I went with them to a cottage meeting, more to please the good lady than because I was interested, and feeling sure my prejudice against the Mormons would never let them get me., I listened to the talks indifferently, passive and undisturbed until one brother arose, took my attention, just as Patriarch Holt took it and yours a few Sundays ago, by speaking in tongues, a strange language. The peculiar thing about it was that I understood him. I knew from the very beginning that he was speaking to me and telling me in a language that no one else seemed to understand, that I must not deny the voice trying to speak to me, nor be deaf to what it was trying to say. The plan of salvation was being shown to me, he said, and a way was being opened for me to accept it, and if I did I would be the means of taking the Gospel to my mother and be a savior to her.
"The idea shook me, and left my so disturbed I was not aware of his closing. Not until the hush and quiet that followed could no longer be ignored. Then I came to with a start. The brother was asking who in the room had the interpretation to the sermon in tongues I had listened to. I was amazed that no one answered. I was sure they must know what I knew and that they were keeping still just to see what I'd do.
"When he pointedly asked me if I didn't have the interpretation I kept still, too, shaking my head vigorously, as much to convince myself that I had not understood as to deny I had. When the meeting broke up without any interpretation being given, I left the meeting feeling that every eye was boring me in the back, and that they were all wondering why I had denied something I knew to be true. The uncomfortable remembrance of it kept me awake that night, and tossing me about in my bed as I tried to make up my mind what to do. Not until I'd acknowledged the testimony and firm conviction that had come to me did I find rest. Then I went to sleep so soundly that I did not waken until the noise of the family assembling for breakfast awoke me.
"I then satisfied my conscience by a confession I had formulated during the night, and my heart rejoiced with the spirit of peace therein, and for the conviction that my search was over, that the thing for which I had left my home had been found, and that it was something far more precious than the gold I started out to find.
"I fulfilled the promise made to me and became the savior of my mother's soul. She followed met to Utah, with Lem Redd's wagon hauling her from the Mississippi River to my home in Panguitch. She was living with me when she died, a firm believer in the principles of the Gospel I had explained to her. She was a happy recipient of the ordinances that insured her salvation in the worlds to come. Amen."
From that day on George made a careful and prayerful study of the Mormon teachings, and became a baptized member and a sincere follower of the doctrines, being baptized by Stephen Markham on May 3, 1853.
Settling Southern Utah
Phoebe was born in Caldwell County, Missouri. Her father was a blacksmith and was asked by Brigham Young to stay in Nauvoo to help others get their wagons ready for traveling. They finally reached the Salt Lake Valley in 1852 by wagon when Phoebe was fourteen years of age.
Phoebe's family moved to Spanish Fork where she met her husband at a dance. Their first four children were born in Spanish Fork. Altogether Phoebe was the mother of fourteen children, including two sets of twins.
In 1861, they were called to settle in Utah's Dixie at a place called New Harmony. Phoebe helped to make adobes for their new home. They kept sheep and used the wood for cloth. George made their shoes. After ten years they were asked to resettle again. This time to Panguitch, Garfield County, Utah.
About this time, 1868, George Sevy took a plural wife, (2) Margaret Nebraska Imlay. This was hard on Phoebe, but she kept busy with her family and being a counselor in the Relief Society. In 1877, George took another plural wife, (3) Ann Thomas. In 1885, because of Federal Marshalls, George took his two plural wives and went to Mexico. Phoebe stayed in Panguitch to take care of his property. She passed away in 1892, and George passed away in Mexico in 1902.
[Reminiscences of Orson Pratt Brown, c. 1885, Page 16
"Brother Macdonald said to his companion, "What do you think about this case?" Metz said, "Poor woman! She is going to be left alone very soon." On hearing these words, I raised from my bed and called Brother Macdonald to come in and Metz followed. "I will live yet to perform the work that has been promised me I should; I will see this man buried and live many years." Brother Macdonald clasped my hand and said he felt also that I was going to live.
As soon as I was well enough I got up and went to see Apostle Teasdale and he told me to go to Brother George Seavey who was Bishop of the ward. I went to him. I asked him what he wanted me to do. "Can you make adobes?" he asked.
I immediately went and laid out an adobe yard and began making adobes. Although my health wasn't the best I continued making adobes into the rest of the year, making the adobes for the first school house. This was the beginning of my work and service in Colonia Juárez [Mexico]."]
In 1861, he was called on a mission to southern Utah and was among the first settlers of New Harmony. The town was built about four miles west of old Fort Harmony in Washington County. Their outfit was a large schooner wagon, the same as those used in crossing the plains. At New Harmony, they lived in a tent for some time, then they built a log cabin and moved into it. Soon, however, they made adobes and built a three-room house. It was not long before they had a few sheep and cows.
Feed was plentiful and livestock did well. The following year, 1862, he cleared the land and planted a garden, producing most of what they had to eat.
Before leaving Spanish Fork, they had four children, one girl and three boys, one of whom died young. These were Hannah Caroline, George W.(deceased), John Lowe, and James William. While in New Harmony they added six more to the family: Joseph and Hyrum (twins who both died as babies), Ruben Warren, Georgiana, Thomas, Phoebe Melinda.
On August 29, 1868, George had entered into his first plural marriage by taking as his second wife, Margaret Nebraska Imlay, a daughter of James Havens Imlay and Anna Eliza Coward. Just two and a half years later he took his two wives and his family, and went to resettle Panguitch in answer to a call from President Brigham Young.
Within two years the community had grown until nearly 200 families had established homes there. George presided as Bishop for nine years, and when the Panguitch Stake was organized in April 1877, he was chosen first counselor to the Stake President, James Henrie, while at the same time he continued in his position as bishop.
A meetinghouse was erected of brick. Many industries were started and the community boasted of many tradesmen. In 1875, he went with others to Potato Valley and assisted in settling what is now the flourishing town of Escalante.
On December 18, 1877, he married a second plural wife, Martha Ann "Maggie" Thomas of Pine Valley, Utah, a daughter of John Pledger Thomas and Mahala Matthews. Then in the next year he participated in the expedition to San Juan County, in southeastern Utah, and helped open that country for settlement, building a raft to cross the Colorado River on the celebrated "Hole-in-the-Rock" Expedition. He was one of four men who in December of 1878 explored that country for a wagon road from the crossing of the Colorado to the side of the city of Bluff on the San Juan River.
In Panguitch, he had several more children. Phoebe gave him Sarah Adeline (died in her 18 th year), Martha Jane, Mary May (died in her 3rd year), and Pearl. Margaret, his second wife, gave him Maggie Mariah, Abraham, Isaac (all three died as infants), and George Francis. His third wife, Martha Ann, gave him Hannah Mahala, George Thomas, and Lemuel Hardeson.
Escape to Mexico
In 1885, he moved to Mexico with his plural wives to escape persecution for these polygamous marriages. He helped to build Colonia Juárez and was its first Bishop, presiding for 12 years. He helped with the building of the telegraph line. He established several businesses and was financially interested in most of the industries started in the colonies, including mining. He helped lay out and build roads into the Sierra Madre Mountains and locate the towns of Corralles and Pacheco.
[June 5, 1887 was called as first Bishop of new Colonia Juárez, and Miles P. Romney and Ernest L. Taylor as counselors. They were set apart by Elder Erastus Snow.
Biographical Sketch of the Life of Orson Pratt Brown, c. Page---
"After I talked with George Sevey I had the feeling that those Tomoches were going to try and come into the Colony. I knew there was not time to lose. I sent Brother Cox down to Major Romney: "Tell him to hurry the men to help out. Tell them I feel sure those Tomoches are going to try to go through the Colonies and I need some men to help me hold them back, quick, before they get a foothold . He sped off and Brother George W. Sevy and I stared in the direction of the hills by the Tinaja where we had just had our short encounter with the Tomoches." (See for full story.)
Biographical Sketch of the Life of Orson Pratt Brown, c. Page---"
"There had been some discord. President [A.F.] Macdonald who was First Counselor had gone out and as President of the Juárez Colonization Company had gone to Mexico City. A false report had come to us that he was using his office as President of the Colonization Company to empower his own personal interests.
The Bishop and about two-thirds of the members of Colonia Juárez signed a petition and sent it to the Presidency of the Church asking that President Macdonald be removed from his office without having made proper investigation. The Presidency of the Church sent Apostles Brigham Young and John Henry Smith down and they together with Apostle George Teasdale called all of the Brethren together to find out what the matter was. After several hours of hearing it became evident that the complaint that had been sent was without foundation in fact. President Macdonald was exonerated with the satisfaction of the Brethren. But because of my stubbornness I was not converted. In the conference following I voted against President Macdonald and so Apostle Teasdale who presided over the Colonies instructed Bishop George Seavy and his counselors to call me before them to see if they could not convert me of the error of my ways. And that if they couldn't convert me to send me to him and as they didn't convert me they sent me to Apostle George Teasdale.
He was waiting for me in his office. I knocked on the door and he said to come in. As I entered he said for me to take a chair in front of him and he said to me, "My boy, did the Brethren convert you of the errors of your way?" and I answered, "No". I asked him this question, "Should a man forgive his brother when he doesn't repent?"
He didn't but just looked at me as though he was looking clear through me. I hung my head in shame and when I raised my head I said to him in tears. "Forgive me Apostle Teasdale I know my duty now, for these words have come to me. 'Of you it is required that you forgive all men and I will forgive whom I will.'"
I was as humble as a lamb and he said to me, "My son as with Peter of old slight(sp)? And blood has not revealed this to thee? But my Father who art in Heaven. For I have been praying to Him that He would reveal this unto you." And as we stood up he clasped me in his arms and kissed me and blessed me.
It was another very important turning point in my life, forever since then I have known my duty, in regard to that great principle of forgiveness."]
George felt heartbreak and pain when he heard of the death of his first wife, Phoebe. She had contracted cholera morbus, a particularly bad type of dysentery, and had passed away rather suddenly on August 14, 1892, in Panguitch. It was impossible for him to make the long journey back to Panguitch before her burial, so she was laid away without his having seen her for several years. Her work was done now, and her reward won. He was happy for her, but he knew he would feel a pain whenever he thought of her and realized all over again that she would no longer be there waiting for him.
After moving to Mexico, Maggie (his second wife), gave him two more children: Minerva Elizabeth, and Phoebe Vilate. Martha Ann was the mother of five more: William Exile, Nelle Jane, Moses Thatcher, Martha Ann, and Lola Myrl. Then in 1895, Maggie had another child, Leon Lorenzo, and although she was happy with her new baby, her health was failing and she was not able to work as she had always done. When it was known for certain that she was suffering with cancer, George prepared to take her back to Utah to a doctor there, hoping to get some relief for Maggie. They took the baby with them, and George made the miles count the best he could. They were just a few miles from their destination, Loa, in Wayne County, when Maggie passed away. George went immediately to Panguitch, and there laid her to rest in the cemetery near his first wife, Phoebe, who had gone on some five years previous.
On his return to Mexico, he moved Martha Ann out to the farm. She had borne him another little girl in 1896, and moving out to the farm with her family, now complete with little Una Bernetta, meant she would have to care for all Maggie's children, as well as take up the chores there. George enlarged their house, for it was not large enough to accommodate all the family. With the larger house, he knew Martha would manage the job of mothering them all like an expert, and so she did.
George again became fired up with the spirit of accomplishment. He felt that he must get busy while he was still able, and get things in order. He couldn?t spend his time living in the past, so new projects quickly started forming in his mind. But the work he cut out for himself was too strenuous for a man of his years and he tired easily. He had frequent spells of illness and he had to turn the job of driving his teams over to his son, George Thomas Sevey.
From the mountain country where he had been working, he returned to Colonia Juárez to rest up and hoped to get feeling a little stronger. He soon became restless and went back up to Colonia Chuichupa to see how things were getting on, arriving tired and ill and in such a state that Tom had to bring him back home. His heart was failing and he suffered terribly with diabetes.
It was disheartening to see him, a man so full of the desire to work and build, and who had made such great strides in life and living, lying there so tired and still, the strength of his body being steadily drawn from him. He called his family to his bedside and talked to each of them of the things that were most dear to him. It had ever been his greatest pleasure to bear his testimony of the Gospel, and he would in his good-natured way, conclude, "It took a miracle to convert me, but it hasn't taken others to keep me converted."
Finally on June 22, 1902, after a very full and complete life, he passed away at his home in Colonia Juarez, and was buried there the next day.
Years later, Martha Ann was laid by his side, thus closing the book on the life of George Washington Sevey. He was married three times, and was the father of 30 children.
His son, George T. Sevey - September 1, 1911 ordained a Bishop of Chuichupa Ward, Juarez Stake, Mexico.
PAF - Archer files
The George Francis Sevey Family Book of Remembrance compiled by Eileen Sevey Cluff
Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude, Vol IV, Page 2727. International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
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