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William and Jane: A Match Made in ... Council Point?

Jane Stevenson was born 5 December 1820, in Upper Canada (Ontario), daughter of Samuel Stevenson and Sarah Lusk. Samuel, Jane's father, was from Upper Canada and her mother, Sarah, from Sussex County, New Jersey, where they met and married in 1808. Jane was the fourth child in a family of seven, including three older sisters, two younger sisters and a brother, all born between 1810 and 1826. An older sister and the brother were born in Sussex County; the others were born in Canada. Jane’s father was born either in Canada or New Jersey; his ancestors lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Jane’s mother and her family were from New Jersey. Given the date of Samuel’s birth, 1785, and if it was in Canada, then it is possible Samuel’s father was either a loyalist, or a Quaker, who fled the United States during the American Revolution (1776-1783). New Jersey was a hot-bed for loyalists and the family lived in what seem to be Quaker communities. Whatever their motives, they clearly had close ties to family in New Jersey as well as business or family interests in Upper Canada. Jane Stevenson married Stephen Weeks Ross on 2 March 1839, in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, where they became parents to five children, each born between 1840 and 1850. The family story is that they met Mormon missionaries and joined the LDS Church and that Steven became a local branch president in New Jersey. Church records show that Jane was confirmed a member of the Church in January 1840, shortly before the birth of her first child. The record does not show her husband’s baptism. The two youngest children, born in 1846 and 1850, died in New Jersey in 1849 and 1850. Some believe that Steven became disenchanted with Mormonism and left the faith. Steven died in December 1849, ten months after the death of their fourth child and four months before the birth of their fifth, who died after two weeks. Jane and her two sons, age 10 and 9, and daughter, age 6, are found in the 1850 census living with Lot and Elizabeth Pratt in Newark, New Jersey. By November 1851 Jane was in Council Point, Pottawatamie County, Iowa, shown in a list of Latter-day Saints willing to depart the next year to join the Mormons in Utah. She is listed as "Jane Ross, 4 in family, 1 hog, 2 young stock, United to Wm. Clark.” William, a widower, married Jane soon after, on 29 January 1852, at Council Point. William Clark was born 26 June 1825, in Worcestershire, England, to John Wheeler Clarke and Mary Hill. William is the second of five children, each born between 1820 and 1833. William married Emily Knowles Bryant 20 September 1842, in Hartlebury, Worcestershire, England. William Clark’s youngest sister, Martha, joined the LDS Church on 30 December 1844; William on 1 July 1846; and Emily, his wife, on 1 January 1849. William’s parents apparently also joined, because they were with William and Emily in Missouri in 1850. William’s mother, Mary Hill Clark died in Lehi, Utah Territory, August 1953. Tragically, William Clark's first wife Emily Knowles Bryant Clark and her new-born baby girl died on the way to Iowa, 20 September 1850, at St. Joseph, Missouri. William’s father, John Wheeler Clark, died nine days later at the same place. They may have been victims of one of the many cholera epidemics that raged on the Missouri River at that time, and that took the lives of many Mormon immigrants. The entry on the company list for Jane Ross mentioned above following this entry: “William Clark, 3 in family, 1 horse, 5 cows, 2 hogs, 3 young stock, Went on.” The three in the family would be William and his mother, and his sister, Martha, although Martha is not listed anywhere in the camp journal. William and Jane were married January 29, 1852, in Council Point, Iowa, before heading west with the Council Point company. William and Jane settled in Lehi, Utah Territory where they together raised the three Ross children, seven of their own, and one adopted. William supported his large family as a farmer. The 1870 census shows he owned $800 in real estate and $700 in personal estate. Jane died 21 September 1895, in Lehi at the age of 74. William died 7 May 1910, also in Lehi, when he was 84.

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