Monday, March 21, 2011

James Harvey Langford Jr.

  • Name: James Harvey Langford Jr.
  • Born: May 27, 1861 Willard, Utah
  • Died: April 14, 1922 American Fork, Utah
  • Related through: Dan's grandfather Heber Otto Langford
James Harvey Langford Jr. was born May 27, 1861 in Willard, Utah and grew up there and in Panaca, Nevada. He was the son of James Harvey Langford Sr. and Mary Caroline Turbaugh.

Rose Ellen Jackson, was born December 1,1865. Her parents moved from Lehi to Toquerville, Utah, after Brigham Young called them to settle there, in what came to be known as "the wine mission." Some legends suggest that our practical prophet thought profit made from wine should not go to the Gentiles.

James and Rose Ellen on their wedding day
James was 21 years old when he first met Rose Ellen Jackson. She had contracted erysipelas and her father brought her to Panaca on one of his freighting trips so she could stay with some of his friends for several months to convalesce. James met her at church, they fell in love and started a courtship the continued for two years. When they decided to get married, James Harvey went to Rose Ellen’s father, James Jackson Jr., to ask for her hand in marriage. He consented with the stipulation that he marry his oldest daughter, Mary Lydia at the same time. So with Rose’s consent, he married both sisters on March 27, 1884 in the St. George Temple.

The family moved around a lot. First they lived in Junction, Utah, then Toquerville, Utah and Panaca, Nevada and then back to Junction. One this last move it was so cold the family almost froze to death. While living in Junction, James Harvey was a counselor in the bishopric. He also conducted a choir and sang solos.

In 1888, James Harvey moved Mary Lydia into Grass Valley, Utah. The law was beginning to make angry noises again polygamists in the area. Shortly after the birth of Rose Ellen’s third child federal officers came to get Rose Ellen to get her to act as a witness against her husband as a polygamist. Her mid-wife mother-in-law, Mary C. Turnbaugh Langford, aimed a gun and dared the men to take her. They left but returned three weeks later and took her to court to testify against James Harvey. Rose Ellen only answered, “I don’t know.” To all the questions asked.

James Harvey Langford is second from left.

Nevertheless, James Harvey was taken to prison December 18, 1888, fined $300 and sentenced to six months in jail. He left his two wives and five small children and hoped they would be able to manage by themselves. While in prison he carved six baby rattles and a figure of a dog out of wood using only as case knife. He was released from prison June 17, 1889. Shortly after he wrote a letter to Elder George Q. Cannon asking what he should do. He did not want to give up either of his families. Elder Cannon advised him to take his families and move to Mexico.

They then made the long trek through Utah and New Mexico and settled in Oaxaca in northern Mexico. They had many adventures along the way. Life in Mexico was hard. Rose Ellen often said there were times they thought they would starve, but they always got by somehow. James Harvey built an adobe home with one bedroom for each wife and a kitchen between the bedrooms. While living there they had a flood that ruined everything and washed out the well.

James Harvey eventually built a newer brick home. He burned his own brick and slacked his lime. Then he built a store and several other houses for other people. He owned a city block of ground. He raised pears, apples and grapes. His father James Harvey Sr. came to Oaxaca in 1898 and farmed a piece of this ground. He raised watermelons, English walnuts and almonds. He lived in a one room house. The grandchildren took turns cleaning it and taking meals to him. He died there in 1908.

There was a cloud burst up the Bivespie River on November 5, 1905. The river started to rise that morning and by evening the town was destroyed and there were about 30 families left homeless. They moved into the schoolhouse and soon after most of the families moved out of town ruining James Harvey’s business in the store. Fortunately the flood did no damage to the Langford family home but they did lose some goods and furniture to water damage.

The family kept increasing and soon there were a total of 18 living children. James Harvey couldn’t make a living, so by 1908 he traded his home and store for a farm of 500 acres that was about 30 miles closer to the U.S. border in San Jose. The ground was very fertile there and the family lived there for almost four years. These turned out to be the four most prosperous years the family had in Mexico.

James Harvey Langford Jr. family in Mexico
In August of 1912, the family received word from the stake president in Chihuahua to pack all their belongings and go back to the United States. The Mexican Revolution was going on and the revolutionaries had given all the Saints two days to get out of Mexico. The family immediately obeyed the counsel because they had 60 miles to travel. There were trains going into some towns in Chihuahua and the Mexicans were forcing men on the trains. No women or children could go. One family in Diaz was killed. The Langford family left San Jose, Mexico on August 12 and went to Douglas, Arizona. The U.S. Government had tents and provisions for everyone but James Harvey wouldn’t accept the tents because his family was too large. His youngest brother lived in Douglas so they went there and secured another large tent. When he got the family settled he and four of his sons made several trips back into Mexico and got out nearly 2,000 bushels of wheat and other crops and livestock. It took them six months.

The U.S. Government offered to furnish free transportation to all refugees to any place in the United States. Some of the family went to Provo where their grandmother Mary Caroline Langford lived and some went to Toquerville, Utah. James Harvey and the younger children went to Tuscon, Arizona. They stayed there for two years but the crops were poor so they moved to Price, Utah. They lived there for two years where they rented a farm. After that they moved to a farm in Wellington, Utah where James Harvey got a job building roads near Schofield. He was made foreman and five of his boys drove teams. They lived in tents and Rose Ellen and Mary Lydia did the cooking and took in boarders.

On November 19, 1919 they moved to Caldwell, Idaho. A married son and an aunt lived there. They rented a nice home near Nampa, Idaho and it was the nicest place they had ever lived. While there he decided to buy a car. He went to town and bought a 1915 Ford. He decided he would drive it back home, but it wouldn’t guide like a horse so he had his son take it over and he didn’t try to drive it again.

After an unsuccessful venture into the dairy business he decided to move again. The family went to American Fork, Utah where one of his married sons was living. While there he got pneumonia and died on April 14, 1922. He was buried in the American Fork Cemetery.

It had been a hard life. If the Mexican Revolution hadn’t occurred their life in Mexico would have been far different. If they could have stayed in San Jose they might have become very prosperous, as it was just opening up as another Mormon settlement. James Harvey Langford Jr. was an honest, hard working man. His intelligence and deep religious faith is evidenced in his writings which have been kept by the family. Both families feel he gave them the finest heritage he could.

This article was written by Blenda Jackson Langford Bulter, daughter. It is included in the book “The Progenitors and Descendants of Fielding Langford.” By Ida-Rose Langford Hall. His history was rather long so for more information about his life find this book. There is a copy in the Family History Library.

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