Simeon Adams Dunn was born on August 7, 1803 in Groveland, Livingston County, New York to Simeon Dunn and Sarah Sally Bath. When Simeon was just eight, his mother died. His father had left home to join the War of 1812 and was killed during that war. His children were taken into the homes of friends and neighbors to be cared for. Simeon lived with a family by the name of Skinner for a number of years. Then he left New York and settled in Michigan. It was there that he met a family by the name of Rawson in Rawsonville, Michigan. He married Adeline Rawson on July 3, 1828. Simeon and Adeline lived in Belville, Van Buren, Wayne County, Michigan in a fine farm home. They had animals, barns, and orchards full of fruit trees. Simeon was a hard worker and a good farmer and they enjoyed a prosperous life. Their daughter Adeline was born on June 19, 1830 followed by a son, Francis on December 5, 1831 and then another daughter, Mary on November 2, 1833. Little Francis passed away in 1835 at age three. On March 3, 1835 Maria was born but died in April. Those were heart breaking years for the Dunn family, but soon after Maria died, Simeon heard about the "Mormons" and became interested. Impressed by the Book of Mormon and its people, he named his son, born on February 19, 1837 Mosiah. Mosiah was a twin and his brother was named Amariah, but he died a few hours after birth. Mosiah lived until June 7, 1837 and then he died also. Once again there was tremendous heartbreak. On March 22, 1838 a daughter, Betsy, was born and thankfully, she was a healthy child who grew to maturity.
About this same time, James Dunn, the brother of Simeon, came to his brother's home, as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On the third Monday in April 1839 Simeon is baptized by Elder James Dunn in the town of Van Buren, Wayne County, Michigan. He was baptized in the Huron River. He states, "I was the first man that was ever baptized in that river by authority from heaven and he, James Dunn, the first elder that I ever saw." His wife, Adeline was baptized a week later, the second person to be baptized in the Huron.
It became very important to Simeon to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith, so in June of 1840 he left on foot for Nauvoo, Illinois walking some 500 miles. In his words, "On June 20, 1840, I arrived in Nauvoo and, for the firrst time in this life, mine eyes beheld and acknowledged the prophet of God. On June 22, 1840, I visited the first patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith, Senior. He blessed me with a father's blessing and explained to me the history of Abraham from the scripture. On July 10, 1840, I started and returned to my home in Michigan, bearing my testimony of the everlasting gospel, going and coming with much rejoicing. On June 20, 1841, I set off with my family, consisting of my wife and three children, to gather with the Saints. We arrived in Nauvoo on August 5, 1841."
The Prophet Joseph was there to meet them and shook all of their hands. Simeon purchased land from the Prophet on which to build their home. It was located near the Mansion House on Hyde and Parley Street and the children of the two families often played together. On October 22, 1841 the children's mother, Adeline, died leaving three young girls to the care of their father. He was always tender and loving to his children which endeared him to them forever. On June 19, 1842 Simeon married Margaret Snyder. Once again there was a mother and a time of relative peace for the family. On May 8, 1843, a daughter, Susannah was born to the couple. A son, Simeon, was born on February 9, 1846 while the Saints were leaving Nauvoo under much turmoil. He died on February 21 and his mother, Margaret never fully recovered from the birth and died on May 5, 1846.
Simeon stayed in Nauvoo after the main body had departed. On May 1, 1846 the Nauvoo Temple was formally dedicated in the presence of 500 Saints. Soon afterward on May 18, Simeon and his four girls left Nauvoo to follow the Saints westward. They had two wagons, one yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows. Mary drove one team and Simeon drove the other. During this time period, Simeon married a widow with children. They pooled their belongings and became a family. Sometime during this period, Jane Caldwell Waite's supposedly dead husband, Eli B. Kelsey, returned home from a mission and came looking for her and the marriage to Simeon was ended. Their short marriage produced a son, Joseph Moroni Waite born on February 12, 1847 at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Later in Joseph's life he found his father and was welcomed with open arms.
Simeon helped with the layout of Winter Quarters and as in Nauvoo, was a guard and policeman. While in Winter Quarters he met Harriet Atwood Silver. She had become converted when Mormon Elders came to Lowell, Massachusetts where she was living. Her three friends booked passage on the "Brooklyn" with Samuel Brannen to San Francisco. They later came to Utah. Harriet left her home alone and traveled to Nauvoo where she shared in the persecutions of the Saints and left in February 1846 and eventually settled in Winter Quarters. On January 3, 1847 Simeon and Harriet were married by Brigham Young.
On May 16, 1848 Simeon and Harriet left Winter Quarters with Simeon's girls. At Fort Bridger they camped a short distance from the main camp. That night they saw some Indians coming and wondered what they could be coming for. One young buck left the rest and solemnly handed Mary a lovely shawl and told her to go with him and be his wife. Mary was a very pretty girl. Simeon stepped right up and told the Indian that she would have to refuse. The Indian proudly walked away without his shawl. Mary would become my great, great, grandmother. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 15, 1848. They worked hard for many months and soon had a comfortable home.
Harriet Atwood Silver Dunn with her and Simeon's children. Mary sits to her left, Betsey rests on Mary's arm, and Susannah is on Harriet's right. The three younger children were born to Harriet. Mary and Betsy were born to Adeline and Susannah was born to Margaret.
Harriet gave birth to Sarah Sophia on July 8, 1849. Simeon was called on a mission to the South Sea Islands on September 28, 1850. President Brigham Young promised him that if he would go the Lord would bless him with health and that his family would not want or suffer during his absence. He soon left for Tahiti. After his departure, a second child, Simeon Adams was born to Harriet on January 13, 1851. Later, Harriet, also took a little orphan boy to raise. She now had seven children to care for and support during her husband's absence.
Mary herded cows where Fort Douglas is now located and down across the Jordan River. She was very diligent at her job and her cows were always the first herd out and the last one in at night. She did this for two years. It was in 1851 that she met Martin Luther Ensign. He thought that she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and eventually they were married on January 8 1853 but that is a story for another post. While Simeon was gone, Adeline, his oldest daughter and married to Alpheus P. Haws, died on January 11, 1852. Her younger sister, Betsy then married Alpheus P. Haws in 1853. Simon returned home in 1852 and found the rest of his family well and saw his first surviving son, Simeon Adams for the first time.
In May of 1853, Simeon was called to help settle Brigham City. On September 12, 1853 Harriet gave birth to twin girls, Evaline Silver and Emmeline Silver. Charles Oscar was born October 13, 1855. In 1857 the family moved to a new home on 1st North and 2nd East in Brigham City.
This is a later picture of the Brigham City home of Simeon and Harriet Dunn. One can see the additional rock addition on the side of the home behind the tree trunk. It is thought that it might be Mary Dunn Ensign as the adult in the picture. The home was left to her and Martin Luther Ensign upon the death of Simeon Dunn. They sold the house in 1893.
Soon one more room was added as well as a cook stove. Harriet enjoyed cooking on a stove instead of in the fireplace, but then a caravan of Mormon immigrants came to Brigham City and Harriet brought a family into their home and gave them the new room as it was the largest but it also contained the stove. Harriet went back to cooking in the fireplace until that family found another home.
On December 1, 1857, Harriet and Simeon journeyed into Salt Lake City to be sealed for time and al eternity in the Endowment House. It was an exciting event for them, but the trip was long and tiring and Harriet was in the last month of pregnancy. Soon after their return home, Harriet gave birth to another set of twins on December 31, 1857. Harriet Silver died at birth and Henry Silver lived just three months. The midwife and neighbors did all they could for Harriet but two days later, Simeon could see that Harriet was dying. He woke his children and took them one at a time to their mother's bedside. She kissed each one and asked her oldest, Sophia to help with the others and new baby Henry.
Simeon buried her in a crude homemade casket with their tiny daughter in her arms. Twice before Simeon had been called upon to lay away a devoted wife and companion but his time his heart was broken with grief. Sophia, at eight, was the oldest child left at home. Mary had married Martin Luther Ensign, Susannah had married Allen Hunsaker, and Betsy was now married to Alpehus P. Haws. The three sisters came nearly every day to help Sophia with the babies.
Three months later in April 10 1858, the call came for the Saints to leave their homes and journey southward in order to elude Johnston's Army. Simeon loaded a few provisions and household effects into his covered wagon, assisted his motherless children on to the wagon box, and commenced his journey. He also provided a wagon for Mary and her three little girls as Martin was away on a mission. As they proceeded on their way, baby Henry became ill. They camped at Kay's Creek (now Kaysville) and there he died. Sophia had held him all the way and her heart was broken. Simeon made his family as comfortable as possible in a temporary camp and with a heavy heart made his way back to Harriet's and baby Harriet's lonely grave in the Brigham City Cemetery. He dug a small grave near it and laid the remains of his baby son in it. After resting near his oxen during the night he returned to join his family. They continued on their way south until they reached Payson. They camped and remained their until the government issued a manifesto offering amnesty to all the "Disloyal Mormons." The Saints were counseled by church leaders to return to their homes. The Dunn family found their house empty and all their possessions gone.
Simeon went on to marry other wives with two additional children born to him and Elizabeth Wickham, making 20 children in all. In October 1871, he departed on a mission to the Eastern States. He returned in July 1875 and from November 1877 until January of 1878 he did Temple Work in the St. George Temple.
He died on February 22, 1883 in Brigham City, Utah and was buried in the Brigham City Cemetery next to the grave site of his wife Harriet and their two babies.
Simeon had been a farmer, missionary, guard and policeman, construction worker on the Nauvoo Temple, pioneer, electioneer, Senior President of the 15th Quorum of the Seventies in Nauvoo, President of the Seventies Quorum in Brigham City, and a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a faithful husband and a loving and tender father.
Mary Dunn Ensign's mother, Adeline Rawson Dunn, is buried in the Old Nauvoo Burying Ground. She died shortly after arriving in Nauvoo in 1841.
I took this picture of the Dunn home in Nauvoo in 2001.
Simeon's home in Nauvoo on the corner of Parley and Hyde Streets has been restored and stands today as a silent memorial and lasting tribute to a remarkable pioneer.
After researching and sharing this story I am so grateful for modern medicine which prevents so many deaths of new babies and their mothers.