Monday, February 3, 2014

52 Ancestors Week 5: Marcus de Lafayette Shepherd

I usually post stories on the anniversary of a significant date in the life of the person.   I'm 2 days early this time.    I'm going to Rootstech this week and I know I'm going to be busy busy - so I wanted this done early!

Today - meet Marcus de Lafayette Shepherd, who is my 2nd great grand uncle.    He died on February 5, 1904.

Marcus was a Mormon Pioneer who came across the plains with his family, was a member of the Mormon Battalion, helped settle San Bernadino, was present at the beginning of The Gold Rush, served time in jail for polygamy, and influential in the early days of Beaver, Utah.    

Marcus de Lafayette Shepherd was born October 10, 1824 in Cuayhoga, Ohio.  His father, Samuel Shepherd, joined the Mormon church shortly after it formed.    The family moved from Vermont to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois and finally to Utah.   Marcus' mother, Roxlana Ray, caught cholera during an outbreak that hit the steamboat the family was travelling on, and died somewhere on the Mississippi river in 1832.  The youngest child of the family, baby William Ray, also died shortly after the family left the ship.

Samuel married Charity Bates while living in Missouri, she was a widow with 7 children, and Samuel and Charity also had a child, Lydia.   The family were in the second wagon train to enter what was to become Utah, in 1847.

Marcus joined The Mormon Battalion in 1846 and was discharged on July 16, 1847.   He was discharged in Los Angeles, and he stayed there for a time to earn enough money to head to Utah and was working at the mill at Sutters Mill when gold was discovered.   For his service, he received a pension of $8.00 per month.   Raised to $12.00 per month in 1904.

Marcus de Lafayette Shepherd and Hariett Editha Parrish were married on on March 9, 1851 by an Apostle of the Mormon Church, Amasa M. Lyon.  5 days after they were married, Macus and Harriet set out for California - to what would later be San Bernadino.   The Mormon church had purchased land there and a call was made for people to go and settle what was planned to be a staging area for Mormons arriving in California, headed to Utah.  

Later, in 1858, Brigham Young called the Mormon settlers in San Bernadino back to Utah.   Marcus and his family moved to Utah and settled in Beaver.  There, Marcus ran a sawmill and was a "sheep man".  Later he helped set up a woolen mill.

Marcus married his 2nd wife - Cedaressa Catherina Cartwright on December 13, 1869.   Reports are that the wives did not get along and maintained separate households.     Marcus had a total of 17 children.   10 with his first wife  Harriet, and 7 with Cedaressa.

He was involved in both the community and the Mormon Church and was devoted to improving the education system in Beaver and public improvements.

Some highlights:
  • Made the first Brick in Beaver
  • Built the first 2 story brick house in Beaver (The house is a on the National Historic Registry)
  • In 1863 he was appointed a Major in the militia.
  • In 1886 he was fined and jailed for unlawful cohabitation after refusing to "discard" one of his wives.
  • In 1889 he was called as Bishop of the First Ward of Beaver
  • Between October 1881 and June 1882 he served a Mormon mission in Iowa and Kansas
  • In 1893 he was elected Mayor of Beaver.
The Shepherd House in Beaver, Utah
Marcus de Lafayette Shepherd died on February 4, 1904.   According to the history written by his daughter, he was lifting wood out of a wagon and just dropped dead and was carried into the house where he had enjoyed breakfast 10 minutes earlier.

Despite the many interesting things Marcus did in his life - I think the best tribute is paid to him by his daughter, Sarah Caroline Shepherd Maeser, in the history of his life, found on

"What a dear, happy, jolly home that was! Both the comfortable long house where I was born July 5, 1860, with its adobe kitchen and buttery, and the boarded-in "between the rooms", and also the big brick house that was built later with three stories and a basement, fill my life with happy memories."

History of Utah, by Orson Ferguson Whitney, 1904.  link
Latter Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia Volume 3, Andrew Jenson, 1920, link,_Utah

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