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Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage
John Whitlock Radford Life Sketch

A short life sketch for John Whitlock Radford written by Rebecca Freeman

The Radford Family came to Virginia from England in the middle 1600's. They settled in Virginia until about 1800 when they started moving west. James Whitlock Radford and his wife Martha Petty moved to Cumberland County Kentucky with his family. When their son John Whitlock Radford was born they were with some of the Petty family in Franklin County Tennessee. They moved back to Kentucky until 1819 when they moved to Sangamon County Illinois. It was here that John received his schooling and worked on his father's farm.

According to family tradition John married a lady named Jane Whyte in 1839 in Fayette County Illinois. In 1840 he was in Washington County Illinois. Jane and John had two children when Jane divorced John on grounds of insanity because he joined a strange cult, the Mormon Church. John moved to Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, where he met Rachel Leah Smith Ross.

Rachel had been born in Gibson County Tennessee, the daughter of Richard Smith and Dianah Braswell. In 1837 she had married Andrew Jackson Ross. They had two sons James Richard Ross and Melvin Ross. Andrew died in a logging accident leaving her as a young widow. The extended Ross and Smith families joined the Mormon Church and moved to Nauvoo. Rachel and John were married 6 April 1846 in Nauvoo.

The Radford's stayed in Nauvoo until September 1846 when they were forced to leave during the Battle of Nauvoo. They moved to Louisa, Wapello, Iowa where their first daughter Nancy Jane was born. Catherine was born while they were living at Mt. Pisquah, Harrison, Iowa. They were living in the Shirts Branch near Kanesville, Pottawattamie, Iowa in 1850 when they joined the Aaron Johnson Wagon Train and went west. On the way their daughter Catherine died of Cholera and was buried beside the Platt River.

As soon as they arrived in Utah they were sent to help settle in the Utah Valley. Soon after their arrival their first son John Franklin was born. Two and a half years later Leah Ellen was born in Provo. After three years there they were sent to the new State Capital of Fillmore to help build the State House.

In 1855 John married Polly Stevens as a plural wife. They had four daughters, Mary Elizabeth, Martha Jane, Mallissa, and Estella. In 1863, Polly, Mary Elizabeth and Estella died. Rachel took the other two girls along with Polly's two children by her first marriage to raise with her own children. While living in Fillmore their last three children Granville, Daniel H. and Diana Rebecca were born. Granville died at the age of six months from chills and fever.

Saints from Fillmore were called in 1860 to establish at settlement at Deseret on the Sevier River. During the Blackhawk Indian War, John was in charge of building a fort to protect the people from the Indian Raids. Severe flooding finally forced the abandonment of Deseret in 1868. Most of the pioneers moved to Oak Creek to establish the new town of Oak City. In 1869 John married Mariam Elizabeth Sampson, they were later divorced.

In 1871 their daughter Nancy Jane married Thomas Morgan and moved to Leamington to help him settle a new community they would call Leamington. John and Rachel moved with them. In 1880 they were living in Kanosh, Millard, Utah.

The Radford family in 1889 decided to relocate to Salt River Wyoming. When John was asked why he was going there to live he replied. "I am going there to die with my family." On the 14 Dec 1889 John died and was buried near the present community of Etna Wyoming. After two very hard years the rest of the family gave up and moved to Shelton Idaho to live where in December of 1894 Rachel died. She was buried in the Ririe Shelton Cemetery, later her husband's body was moved and re-interred beside her. Most of their family eventually settled in the Ririe Shelton area, where many of their descendants still live today.

John Whitlock Radford and Rachel Leah Radford

Click on the link above to view a picture of John Whitlock and Rachel Leah Radford.

Rebecca Freeman has written a scholarly 31 page history of John Whitlock Radford and Rachel Leah Smith and their families complete with documentation and bibiliography. When time permits, and with Rebecca's permission, I will put the whole history on this website.

The John Whitlock Radford and Thomas Morgan familes were driven into hardship by persecution. They left Utah and moved to Wyoming when faced with the Edmund Law, passed in 1882, which essentially declared their way of life, their religion, and their faith in God illegal because they were practicing poygamy. They had three choices. They could disband the families they loved and cherished (Talk about an anti-family law), they could keep their familes and go to prison (As many did) (Is that anti-family or what?), or they could move to country where the law couldn't reach them. They chose to move to Wyoming, which is remote today, but was incredibly remote in those days. John Whitlock Radford did not survive the move to Wyoming (He knew he wouldn't). But it seems that these challenges to their faith and the struggle for survival under primitive conditions in the brutal Wyoming winters brought the John Whiltlock and Thomas Morgan families close. Thomas's son Joseph Charles was to say later that they nearly starved in Wyoming. After two very hard years the remaining members of these families moved to the Shelton area of Idaho.

It is important to stress here that these Radford and Morgan families were honorable, honest, upright people who belived in God, were striving to live their religion to the best of their ability, and had done herculean service in Utah building community infrastructure for the benefit of others. I personally am very proud of my Pioneer ancestors.

There was considerable intermarriage between the John Whitlock Radford and Thomas Morgan families. Thomas Morgan married John Whitlock Radford's widowed daughter, Nancy Jane Radford; Thomas Morgan's daughter Priscilla married John Whitlock Radford's son John Franklin Radford; Thomas Morgan's daughter Everal Hannah married John Whitlock Radford's son Daniel H. Radford; Nancy Jane Radford's son from her first marriage, Frank Ryset, married Thomas Morgan's Grand daughter Sarah Priscilla; Rachel Leah Smith Ross's grand daughter from her first marriage, Lovina Ross, married Thomas Morgan's son William Morgan.

Commentary by James Morgan