Mini-Bios of our

Nauvoo Resident Ancestors


Our Nauvoo Ancestors

Halmagh John VanWagoner (1788-1846) and Mary VanHouten (1793-1846) joined the LDS Church in New Jersey on 4 Feb. 1844.  They shared their newly found religion with their children, which included their married daughter, Ann VanWagoner (1817-1899) and her husband John Havens.  Ann accepted the gospel and was baptized on 14 April 1844.  Her husband, John Havens, would not join the Church and family troubles caused her to leave her husband, take her two living children (Ann Havens and William Henry Havens—1841-1916) and return to her parent’s home.  Together the VanWagoner family traveled to Nauvoo, where they were allowed to stay only for a short time before they were forced to leave that city and make the arduous trek across Iowa.  Later that summer they arrived on the banks of the Missouri River and helped in the building of the city of Winter Quarters, Nebraska.  Throughout the coming year Cholera infested the settlement where hundreds died including both Halmagh and Mary VanWagoner, who each died on 4 Dec. 1846.  They lie buried together in the Winter Quarters pioneer cemetery, next to the new LDS Temple that commemorates that sacred place.

Ann VanWagoner had recently met Henry Nebeker, and in her grief after the death of her parents, he was able to console her.  He proposed marriage and she first insisted that he be baptized, which he was on a cold 1 Jan, 1847.  They were married a few days later, on 4 Jan. 1847.  Her two young children were also accepted by Henry as if they were his own. Her son, William Henry Havens, added “Nebeker” to the end of his name. 

Henry Nebeker (1818-1891) was born in Newport, Delaware on 1 Feb. 1818.  He was  a twin, but his brother died at birth.  While still a young man his family moved to Ohio, then Indiana and then to eastern Illinois.  Here Henry married Florence Wood, but she passed away within two years of their wedding (1845).  About this time, Henry’s older brother John joined the LDS Church and invited Henry and another brother, Peter to moved to Nauvoo with the saints.  Although Henry and Peter were not members of the Church, they decided to go with John’s family.  They arrived there just in time to be chased out of town and make the miserable exodus across Iowa.  In Winter Quarters, Henry witnessed the deaths of many of the saints.  Here he also met Ann VanWagoner and her two children.  With the deaths of both of her parents, Henry proposed marriage to her.  She had previously been married to a non-member of the Church and it appears she was not about to do that again.  Henry was baptized in the Missouri River at Winter Quarters on 1 Jan. 1847 and the couple was married there on 4 Jan. 1847.  Ann’s two children, Ann & William, took on the added surname of Nebeker for themselves and were raised by Henry.  Together, they traveled to Utah in the summer of 1847.  They eventually settled in Payson where Henry helped to build a fort to protect against the Indian attacks.  He also built the first schoolhouse on his property and invited all children in the town to attend.  His barn and corral served the Payson community as a rest stop for both the Pony Express and the early stage coach line.  Henery was called out in an emergency relief effort to save the pioneers in Fort Lemhi, ID from being besieged by the Indians in that area.  Later, he and Ann were called to the “Muddy Mission” in southern Nevada.  After returning, Henry was arrested for polygamy and spent time in jail, but escaped by burning the jail down, which was a risky maneuver.  The new laws forced men to make a choice as to which family they would live with and to leave the others behind.  Henry selected his youngest family that still had children at home and he spent the rest of his days near Richfield, UT.  He died in Sigurd, UT on 17 Aug. 1891.  Ann remained with her family in Payson, where she died on 26 July 1899.  William Henry Havens-Nebeker (1841-1916) was only about five years old when his family moved to Nauvoo.  He spent most of his adult life in Payson, UT where he married Salina Mary Boulton, a young sixteen year old convert, freshly arrived from England.  They had a large family but many of their children died in infancy.  Later in life (1903), they moved to Rirey, Idaho where William died on 15 June 1916.

David Garlick (1780-1845) & Elizabeth Buck (1795-1888) were from central New Jersey and S.W Pennsylvania respectively.  She joined the Church in Providence, Bedford Co., Pennsylvania in 1837 and David in 1841. With their children, some of whom were married by then, they moved to Nauvoo.  They owned a city lot located about a quarter mile north of the Nauvoo Temple.  David died there on 14 Nov. 1845 (age 65) and was buried at the Old City Cemetery on the S. E. corner of Nauvoo.  Elizabeth moved west with her children and died in Spanish Fork, Utah on 5 Sep. 1888 (age 93).

John Fleming Wakefield (1812-54) and Susanna Garlick (1820-1890). John joined the LDS Church in S. W. Pennsylvania (Indiana Co.) in Oct. 1837.  He was immediately called on a mission with Erastas Snow and they traveled through Bedford County, PA teaching many along the way.  One of the family he taught was that of David & Elizabeth Garlick, and she and her daughters soon joined the Church, but David held out for a couple more years.  After his mission, John returned to Bedford County, where he married one of the daughters of this family, Susanna Garlick.  They were married less than a year after her baptism, on 5 Aug. 1838.  With Susanna’s parents, they moved to Nauvoo in about 1841 where they too owned a city lot next to the Garlicks, just a little north of the Temple.  In 1846, they were driven from this town and crossed Iowa to make a new home in Council Bluffs.  John was not in good health but he was a good wagon maker.  Family tradition says that every time he made a new wagon to take his family across the plains, he found someone else who needed it more and not being in good health, he kept giving, or selling, his wagons to others.  Eventually John died and was buried in Council Bluffs (unmarked grave) on 13 Jan. 1854.  His widow then packed up her children (which included three year old Joseph Buck Wakefield) and she crossed the plains in the last wagon her husband built.  Susanna settled in Springville, UT where she raised her family.  She died there on 17 April 1890.

Lydia Harrington (1795-1873) was born on 7 Dec. 1795 in West Halifax, Windham, Vermont.  Here she grew to young womanhood.  She fell in love with a young man from the same community, whose name was Cyrus Bates.  They were married there on 18 Feb. 1813 but soon afterwards, she and her husband moved, with her Bates in-laws to Henderson, Jefferson Co, NY.  In this town they had eleven children, the second of which was Ormus Ephraim Bates.  With her husband and some of her children, she joined the LDS Church in the 1830s (specific date is unknown.)  Her husband died on 3 Oct. 1839, just about the time the saints were beginning to settle in Nauvoo.  Shortly thereafter, Lydia migrated with her family to Nauvoo where they lived in relative peace for several years.  Two of her sons, Ormus and Cyrus, owned town farm lots on the east side of Nauvoo and she may have lived in that vicinity with them.  When the exodus came, she moved west with the saints to Utah.  Later in life, she moved again, to live with a daughter in St. Charles, Bear Lake, Idaho where she died on 28 Dec. 1873. 

Ormus Ephraim Bates (1815-1873) and Morilla Spink (1824-1906) were both raised in northern New York State but joined the Church separately and gathered with the saints to Nauvoo.  Here they were married on 4 Nov. 1844, just over four months after the deaths of Joseph & Hyrum Smith.  This was a polygamist marriage for Ormus, performed in Nauvoo.  They owned a home and farm lot on the S. E. side of town until they were forced to leave this beautiful city.  They moved west with the saints and established a home in Tooele, UT.  Ormus had a very large family descending from his seven wives.  He, along with one of his sons, discovered a rich silver mine on that cattle ranch in Ophir Canyon, south of Tooele, and thereafter he was a very prominent man in his community.  The town of Batesville, UT was named after him.  He died on 4 Aug. 1873.  Morilla moved to Arizona with some of her children where she served many years as a mid-wife for a new United Order settlement at Mormon Lake.  Eventually she returned to Payson, UT where she died on 17 Feb. 1906.

Thomas Hancock (1763-1844) and Amy Ward (1769-1849) were both from New England puritan stock.  Tom was a third cousin of the famous John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Amy’s father, Jacob Ward, was a General in the American Revolution.  He was also a third cousin to the more famous, General Artemus Ward, who was the first Commander in Chief of the American forces at Boston, prior to the appointment of George Washington by the Continental Congress.  Tom and Amy raised their family in Springfield, Mass.  From there, they migrated to eastern Ohio.  About six months after the organization of the LDS Church, missionaries were sent west to preach to the American Indians, and anyone else who would listen.  On this trip, Parley P. Pratt shared the gospel with Levi W. Hancock, a son of Thomas and Amy, as well as some of the others in this family.  Many of the Hancocks joined the Church, including both Tom and Amy.  They moved to Kirtland, OH, then to Farr West, MO and on to Nauvoo, IL.  Tom died in Nauvoo on 1 Oct. 1844 and lies buried in the Old City Cemetery on the S. E. corner of town.  Amy fled Nauvoo with her family but died near Council Bluffs, IA on 14 Jan. 1849.

John Reed (1783-1846) and Rebecca Bearce (1785-1848) were both originally from New England, but they moved to New York, and then Ohio.  John served in the American Revolution.  In the small town of Rome, OH they became acquainted with Levi W. Hancock, who was also a resident of this community, which was located about thirty miles east of Kirtland.  When Levi W. Hancock joined the LDS Church, he was immediately ordained an Elder and called to serve a mission to spread the gospel to those in that area.  He taught and baptized John and Rebecca in early 1831.  Rebecca was about half-Indian and may have been the first Lamanite member of the Church.  Later that year, Rebecca gave birth to her tenth child, whom they named Levi Ward Reed, in honor of the missionary who brought the gospel to their family.  Not long thereafter, they moved to Kirtland, Ohio where the Church was congregating, and John did much of the blacksmithing work on the Temple.  From here, they faithfully followed the prophet to Farr West, Missouri and then to Nauvoo, where they lived a little to the north of the Temple.  In 1846, they left Nauvoo with the other saints but didn’t make it too far before John died from the conditions endured by so many saints.  He was buried in Bonaparte, IA.  Rebecca continued on with her children and grandchildren to Council Bluffs, where she died from a Cholera epidemic on 10 Feb. 1848.

Levi Ward Hancock (1803-1882) and Clarissa Reed (1814-1860) were from New England, and both were living in Rome, Ohio when Levi heard Parley P. Pratt preaching the gospel.  Upon joining the Church, some of his first converts were his own parents and the Reeds.  At the time of their conversion, Clarissa was only about 16 years old and Levi was about 28.  There is no indication that she made too much of an impression on Levi, other than that of a good listener and eager convert.  As she grew however, she spent time helping Emma Smith in the prophet’s home and it was Joseph Smith who encouraged Levi to marry Clarissa in 1833.  They lived in Kirtland and Levi participated in the building of the Temple; Zion’s Camp march to Missouri; and he was called to be one of the original Seven Presidents of the Seventy.  With the other saints, they were called to leave their home in Kirtland to resettle in “Zion” and they made their way to Farr West, MO.  After a time in this hostile community, they again moved to Nauvoo where they built a log home lot just two blocks east of the Joseph Smith Mansion House.  Following the death of the Prophet, and then the death of his own father, Thomas, the Hancocks loaded up their belongings, crossed the river into Iowa and trudged the long way to Winter Quarters.  However, Levi was asked to leave his young family, and his mother-in-law, who was traveling with him, and join the Mormon Battalion.  This he did as the “Musician” for his company as he played the fife very well.  This trek took him to Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Santa Fe, NM; Tucson, AZ; San Diego, CA; Sacramento, CA; across Donner Pass into Nevada, then up to the Snake River in Idaho, and eventually to Salt Lake City.  Levi served in the Utah State Legislature and resettled to the Dixie area in southern Utah.  Due to the trials suffered in those days, Clarissa divorced Levi.  She died in Salt Lake on 17 Jan. 1860.  In addition to his calling in the Seventy, Levi also served many years as a Stake Patriarch in Southern Utah.  He died in Washington, UT on 10 June 1882. 

Mosiah Lyman Hancock (1834-1907) was born in Kirtland, Ohio on 9 April 1834.  He was the oldest child of Levi Ward and Clarissa Hancock.  He was only five years old when his family was driven from Missouri and dangerously crossed the frozen Mississippi River  as the ice was breaking up.  He spent most of his boyhood in Nauvoo until he was twelve years old.  He was a member of the famous “Whistlin’ and Whittlin’ Band” of boys who were helpful in defending the town from antagonistic strangers bent upon the destruction of the Mormons.  He witnessed and recorded many historic events, such as the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, the Prophet’s farewell speech to the Nauvoo Legion, the departure of Joseph and Hyrum for Carthage and the return of their bodies, the speech made by Brigham Young to the saints pointing out the rightful leadership of the Twelve Apostles, and the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple.  At the age of 12, he was sealed to a young girl in that temple, as it was correctly estimated that it would be a long time before the saints would have another temple for those sacred ordinances.  Being the oldest in his family, he was responsible for bringing his mother and family across the plains, after the departure of his father with the Mormon Battalion.  In Utah, he married Margaret McCleve, a young handcart pioneer from Belfast, Ireland.  They spent much of their early-married life in Payson and then moved to southern Utah.  Mosiah was a polygamist and was hunted by the authorities through much of his older years.  He moved his families to eastern Arizona.  He died in Kimball, AZ on 14 Jan. 1907.  His wife, Margaret, died in Taylor, AZ on 4 May, 1908.

Ute Perkins (1761-1844) & Sarah Gant (1760-1845) were from North and South Carolina respectively.  Ute served in the Revolutionary War at age fifteen.  They were not yet members of the LDS Church when they moved to western Illinois to help create a new settlement, that later became Ramus, IL (now Webster) about fifteen miles NE of Carthage, IL in Hancock County.  Here, in their old age, they first learned of the gospel from two of their grandsons, who had recently joined the LDS Church (1839).  Ute and Sarah also joined the Church and were active leaders in their community.  Two of Joseph Smith’s sisters happened to move to Ramus and Joseph often visited this area.  In fact two of the revelations in the D & C were given at Ramus (Secs. 130 & 131). Ute died on 11 Mar. 1844 (about three months prior to the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith), and Sarah died there about a year later, on 6 June 1845.  Their graves are probably located in Ramus, but a marker was placed in the Nauvoo City Cemetery in 1961 to honor Ute as a veteran of the American Revolutionary War.

City map of Nauvoo. 

Zoom in to enlarge and locate the property owned by various ancestors. 

Harriett Ann VanWagoner Nebeker

William Henry Havens-Nebeker with wife, Salina Mary Boulton Nebeker

Henry Nebeker

Elizabeth Buck

    Age 90 years

Susanna Garlick

Lydia Harrington

Ormus E. Bates

Morilla Spink

Levi Ward Hancock

Mosiah Lyman Hancock