Friday, April 15, 2011

John A. Hymas, Great Grandfather

I was working on some family history things a few days a go when I came on a couple of photographs of our great grandparents on the Hymas side of the family.  I thought some of their posterity might also appreciate seeing another level of their roots. I don't have a lot of detail, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  I am always amazed at the quality of the photographs, considering the times in which they were taken.  It would be interesting to know how each of these ancestors of ours have turned out and what their families are like.  I think it's safe to say that over the course of time since these pictures were taken, that hundreds, probably thousands, of additional family members have been added.  I am also sure that these people and their decedents have had a huge impact in the lives of many wherever they have lived.
This picture is actually of John A. Hymas (Great grandfather) and the children of his first wife, Mary Ann Pitman, who died young, and his second wife Mary Jane Watkins.  Our Great grandmother was Mary Jane Pitman Hymas, who was deceased at the time of this photograph.  We are the direct decendants of Benjamin Pitman Hymas, a son of John A. Hymas, and his first wife Mary Ann Pitman.

This photo shows the sons of John A. Hymas.  Hyrum, whose photo is being held here, had passed away before these pictures were taken.

It was a remarkable family. I'm glad that we all hove some of their blood running through our veins and hope we can all measure up to the legacy of faith which they left us. 

Thanks to Erin's comment I decided to see what else I could find.  Thanks to some other cousins, who are much more capable and devoted to researching and preserving the history of those gone by than am I.  I was able to find this more interested and detailed history of my great grandfather John A. Hymas. I hope this is more meaningful than just the pictures which I ran on to the other day.  We live in a marvelous age.  I think an unseen hand is involved in every aspect of this work, from the little comment made by Erin, to the great work of research done by Edith Haddock, to those who actually first recognized the truth of the restored gospel, and had courage and faith enough to follow the prophets and to come to America, Zion, and eventually the Bear Lake Valley, where so much our our family roots were able to take hold and develop. We are indeed indebted to so many in the past, who were led by the Spirit, to do what they did and who have influenced our lives in largely unseen yet profound ways.  I shall for ever be grateful to the many and appreciate the opportunity to learn more of those dear and faithful ancestors, whom I didn't know in this life, but whom I feel sure I once knew in a former place and time, and whom I will without question meet in a time of rejoicing in the not to far distant future.

Biography of

     John Hymas was born Sept 1, 1839, at Rayleigh, Essex, England, and was the son of William and Mary
Ann Atkins Hymas. He was the 3rd child in the family,
there being 4 other boys and 3 girls. His father was a
farmer and had charge of a large farm in England.
John helped with the farm work when he was a small
boy and had very little chance for an education, but,
because of his desire to learn, he became a good reader
and writer.
In the year of 1853, a missionary of the Latter Day Saint
Church, was holding a meeting one evening at the Forks
of the road, in England, and as he began to sing, a group
of boys and girls nearby, went to listen to him. At the
close of the song, the missionary told them he had traveled
6,000 miles, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and
explained that he did not receive pay for preaching, but
that he loved the people, and wished to tell them of the
wonderful plan of salvation. John was very interested in
what the missionary had to say and was pleased when
another time of meeting was announced. At the close of
the meeting, John rushed home, and returning hurriedly,
all out of breath, handed the missionary a small amount
of money, which comprised all of his savings. He felt that
this would help with the expenses of the missionary.
John was 14 years of age at this time, and he was so
impressed with what he had heard, that he anxiously
told his mother all about it, and asked her to go to the
next meeting with him. After some coaxing, on his part,
she decided to go, and thus, attended her 1st L.D.S.
meeting. After this, John attended many meetings and
became very interested in the Gospel. He tried to get the
members of his family interested, but his mother was the
only one who seemed to listen to him. He finally was
convinced of the truthfulness of the Gospel, and was
baptized and confirmed a member of the church, on
May 21, 1854. He was the first one of his family to
become a member, but his mother was baptized soon after.
The 2 years following John’s baptism, he earned and
saved all the money he could, because he was very anxious
to come to America. It was in February 1856 that he bade
his parents, brothers and sisters farewell and left his home,
for Liverpool, where he could set sail for America. He was
then a boy of 16 years of age. He sailed on the boat called
“The Caravan,” which left Liverpool on February 18th. He
was very lonely, as he knew no one on the boat, and the
voyage took about 6 weeks. However, he became friendly
with some people by the name of Brown, and they were
willing to do what they could to help him. It was the
morning of March 27, 1856, when they landed in New
York. During the first afternoon, while on the streets, the
 children gathered around him and made fun of his talk
and clothing, so he told Mr. And Mrs. Brown, that evening,
he was sure he would not like the Yankee people. The next
morning he and Mr. Brown went to Long Island in search
of work. John secured a job at a market, for five dollars a
month, but Mr. Brown was unable to find work, so he
asked John to borrow 3 months pay, in advance, and loan
it to him, and at the end of this time, Mr. Brown was to
 mail it back to him, and John was then to go and live
with the Browns. John worked hard for 3 months, to pay
off the loan, and at the end of the time, no word came from
Mr. Brown, and he never did hear from him again. Having
quit his job, expecting to go with Mr. Brown, he was very
disappointed and worried, as he had no money and no job.
Soon, however, John met an Englishman, who belonged to
the church, and told him his story. The old Englishman
took John to his home, They were very poor, but were
willing to share all they had with this young man. Being
a shoemaker, there was very little work to be had, so he
decided to take John and go to Newburry, about 200 miles
from New York. The man’s wife had to stay in New York,
as they did not have enough money for all 3 to make the
trip. They took passage on a boat, up the Hudson River,
and soon after sailing, the old Englishman had an idea
how to earn some money. He was rather bold and John
was rather bashful, but they made a very good
combination, and soon became the boat’s musicians.
The man had a fiddle and a concertina, and while he
played the fiddle, John would play the concertina.
After they played for some time, the hat was passed,
and they were able to earn their support and a little
money besides.
At Newburry, they secured work on a farm, for a man
named Gillis, and here they cut hay with a scythe, but
this was rather hard for the shoemaker, so he soon quit
and started to apply his trade, making shoes. John,
however, went right on working, as he needed the
money. This work was very hard, as he had to work by
the side of the farmer, and sometimes got so tired, he
could hardly keep going. And then, to make things
worse, Mr. Gillis found out that John was a Mormon,
and he said that “he would rub Mormonism out of him
with a piece of fat bacon,” but this only made John
stronger in the faith, and when he left the farm, he was
still a good Mormon boy.

     After leaving Newburry, they went to Iowa, where
 they worked for the railroad, John hauling cars of dirt
and the shoemaker hauling water. One day, while at
work, John received a letter from his brother William,
telling him to meet him at the Post Office, Sunday
morning, at 9 o’clock. This made John very happy,
for he had been very homesick. It was surely a happy
meeting for the 2 brothers, and John was glad to hear
of his home and the people he loved.

For 2 years, John and William worked together and
received oxen and a wagon for part of their pay, then
they left Iowa City and began their journey westward.
Before starting the trip, they put all their money in one
purse, ans William carried it, but when they needed
money and he reached for the purse, it was gone. They
were sure no one had stolen it, and remembered there
was a place that it could have been lost, but it was too
far to return, and look for it, so they continued on their

Council Bluffs, Iowa, was their next destination, and
here they both secured work, but soon William was
sent back to Iowa City, on business, and while making
the trip, he decided to go in search of his lost money.
To his surprise and delight, he found it, so upon his
return to Council Bluffs, he and John traveled to
Omaha, where they became friendly with a family
by the name of Lewis, and it was here that John
met a charming girl, Mary Ann Pitman, daughter
of Mrs. Lewis. They met at Sunday School, and
became very friendly, and it was not long before this
friendship ripened into love.

John was very anxious to get to Salt Lake, so he
planned on driving and ox team to Utah, and
traveled with the Creighton Telegraph Train, in
October, 1861. Mary Ann soon made arrangements
with a family who was making the trip. John met
her in Salt Lake City, and they were married in the
Endowment House, November 10, 1861. They
made a home for themselves in Salt Lake, and
spent 3 happy years there. During these years, John
was a body guard for Brigham Young. In the fall of
1862, just a year after their marriage, the Hymas
family came from England, to join them. All of them
came, with the exception of the oldest brother,
George, who never did join the church. About the
same time, the Lewis family came to Salt Lake, so it
was a happy reunion for John, Mary and the 2 families.
In the year of 1864, John and his wife left Utah, and
went to Bear Lake Valley, Idaho, to make their home.
It was in the spring of the year and they went by way
of Soda Springs, locating by a stream, called North
Creek. Here, they soon became busy building a home
and plowing the ground, in which wheat was planted.
Disappointment greeted them in the fall, as the frost
 came so early, the wheat did not mature. This made
the first winter, spent in Bear Lake Valley, a very hard
one, for food was scarce. Wood, however, was very
plentiful and easily gotten, so this helped the few
settlers a great deal. John, and brother William, were
the first settlers in Liberty, Idaho, and they had a great
many trying experiences. It was during the first winter,
on February 22, 1865, that John and Mary’s first child, a
son, was born. Grandmother Lewis, mother of Mary Ann,
stayed with them at the time. As the years went by, 5
more sons and 4 daughters came to their home. They
were: John William, Mary Ann Adelia, Joseph M.,
Benjamin P., Hyrum, Clara D., Caddie C., Arthur J.,
Alice E., and David M.  Two weeks after the 10th child
was born, sadness came to their home. The mother,
Mary Ann, passed away, on January 22, 1878, leaving
John with the responsibility of 10 children. In his deep
sorrow, he penned these verses:


Died January 22, 1878

Farewell! It is a word of sorrow
To the strong and to the brave,
When we’re called upon to follow
Our beloved ones to the grave.
Oh, how sad to me, the parting
Very few on earth can tell,
While I write, the tears are starting,
While I say the word “Farewell.”
Farewell for a little season,
Dearest treasure of my heart,
How I mourn, ‘tis for that reason
That we’re called upon to part.
Oh how sadly I have missed you,
And how dreary seems my life,
Yet, I hope some day to meet you
Yes, my faithful, loving wife.
Thou was always truth defending,
And the race thou bravely run,
Always to God’s will was bending,
Thou nobly fought, the battle won.
Though I’m left to mourn, in sorrow,
And my heart is full of pain,
Though I live today, tomorrow,
May unite us once again.
Oh Lord, preserve my little flock,
Who’re left without a Mother’s care,
May Thy good spirit be their pro
This is Thy servant’s humble prayer.

Signed: John Hymas

Even in his sorrow, John carried on, and with the exception
of the little 2 weeks old baby, who was taken to live with
the Grandmother, all of the children remained at home,
and were cared for by the older girls, the oldest one, not
yet 12 years of age. Friends asked to take some of the
children, but John wanted to keep them together, if
possible, and he solved the solution in this way. He knew
a good woman, Mary Ann Watkins, who was willing to
share the responsibility with him, so they were united in
marriage, on October 24 1878. To this union, were born
10 children, 6 girls and 4 boys, thus making 20 children
in all. These children were as follows: Thomas N.,
Martha Jane, Birtha, Rebecca Rose, Charles E., Emily E.,
Wilford W., Lottie, Melvin M., and Mabel. Two of these
girls passed away while very young.

After settling in Bear Lake Valley, John lived to see
many changes take place. He was a leader in his
ommunity and had many sincere friends and neighbors,
whom he enjoyed greatly. He was willing, at all times,
to serve his church and community, and taught his
children to do likewise. He was choir leader for many
years, and contributed greatly, along musical lines,
composing many songs, both the words and music.
He also aided others who were interested in music.
In the early days, in Bear Lake, on form of
amusement was home production plays, wherein the
people were their own producers and actors. Here
John was in the height of his glory, when he was busy
making copies of plays, making scenery, and helping
in many ways to make the theatre a success.

He owned and operated a fine farm, and it was at all
times his desire to have everything in order.He passed
away November 8, 1917, at the age of 78, leaving a
total of 176 descendants. He was greatly loved by all
who knew him, and for many years, before his death,
all his family gathered at the old home, on his birthday,
September 1st, to honor him. And since his death, this
has still been done. Many of his children have passed
away, but the next generation is still carrying on the
tradition of the annual reunion, and of thus honoring
their early pioneer ancestor, who braved all, to have
his posterity brought up in the Mormon Church, and
live in the valley’s of the mountains.
Written by Edith Parker Haddock, with some additions
made by Adelia Parker Knudson, grand-daughters of John A. Hymas.

Posted by Bart


  1. Those really are great pictures. Thanks for posting them. It would be interesting to hear more about their family. Do you have any info or know where to find it?

  2. Thank you for getting this all together it was wonderful to read.