Before the Beginning

(borrowed in part from my brother John's and sisters Nancy's and Norma's personal histories and history of our parents)

We are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  For six generations on both sides of my family, the story of my family has intertwined with that of the church.  On my mother's side, the first convert was Joseph Fielding, my third great grandfather.  He and his two sisters, Mary and Mercy Fielding, were taught by Parley P. Pratt and baptized on May 21, 1836 in Black Creek, on Joseph Fielding's farm near Toronto, Canada.  John Taylor was baptized at the same time and place.  Joseph and his sisters migrated to Kirtland, when he was called on a mission to England in June 1837--part of the first group of six missionaries sent to that country under the leadership of Heber C. Kimball.  Indeed, it was because of the interest shown in the restored gospel by Joseph's brother James, a Methodist minister in Preston, England, that Joseph Smith sent this group of missionaries there.  Although James did not join the church, many of his congregation did.  Joseph Fielding was ordained a priest before he left.  He served four and one-half years---the last three as president of the mission.  He met and married his wife, Hannah Greenwood, and their first daughter, Rachel (my second great grandmother), was born there.  In 1841 the young family rejoined the saints in Nauvoo and were among the many Mormon pioneers to make the trek west, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1848.  Joseph Fielding kept a journal, which has become a document of great value in the archives of the Church because it records so much of the history of the church in England in the 1830's.  His sister, Mary, became Hyrum Smith's wife, the mother of President Joseph F. Smith and the grandmother of President Joseph Fielding Smith. 

Our Welsh roots began with our maternal great-grandfather, David Bynon Thomas, born July 15, 1850, in Georgetown-Methyr, Tydfil, Glamorganshire, South Wales.  He is described as 'tall and thin...blond, good-looking with a nice voice.'  The first time he heard the missionaries in Wales he said, "It is music to my ears.  I knew the minute I heard them singing and preaching, that's what I wanted and that's what I had been looking for."  He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on December 22, 1886 at the age of 16.  Records do not give a location of the baptism, but most likely it was near his home in South Wales.  David married Martha Anna Rees on July 4, 1874, in Brigham City, Utah.  Martha was the daughter of John Davis Reese, also of Welsh descent and a prominent citizen of Brigham City, having served as the second mayor of the city.

On my father's side of the family, the first convert was Fannie Hyde Parks, my third great grandmother.  At the age of 10, Fannie and her family were baptized on January 15, 1837, in a creek near the family farm in Euclid, Ohio, (near Kirtland) their home after they had migrated from New York in 1831.  They once again moved-- this time to Nauvoo.

Our paternal 2nd great-grandfather, George Washington Taggart, joined the church in late November or early December 1841 at the age of 25 in Peterborough, New Hampshire.  His father, Washington Taggart, and his mother, Susannah Law, along with one brother Oliver were baptized the same day.  According to a record created by Jesse C. Little, an elder of the church, GWT was the 6th convert in the area.  The baptism was performed by Elder Eli P. Maginn, a missionary from Nauvoo, Illinois.  GWT married Harriet Atkins Bruce on May 7, 1843.  She had been baptized February 20th, 1843 by the same elder.  One month after the marriage George, Harriet, George's parents and Oliver left family and friends and their home in New Hampshire to join the saints in Nauvoo.  Harriet died in 1845, and George Washington married our 2nd great-grandmother, Fanny Parks, later that year.   Of his early Taggart ancestors, George wrote, "It is supposed that they were of Scotch origin and were among the old Scotch Protestant stock that first emigrated from Ireland to the New England shores."

At the time he met Fannie, George W. had been a widower for about a year.  His first wife had died one year after the birth of a daughter, Eliza.  Journals of that time carry stories of George working on the Nauvoo temple while his daughter slept nearby in a small wagon. Contemporary records show Fannie raised the little baby as her own and suggest she had great affection for the girl.  Fannie and George W. were to have three children of their own, including Charles Wallace Taggart, Sr., my great grandfather.

George's and Fannie's time together in Nauvoo was short-lived.  Of note, however, is the fact that George Washington participated in the development of Nauvoo and was a member of the Nauvoo Legion.  Thus, he was sent to Carthage in June 1844 to retrieve the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith the day after their assassination.  George and Fannie were driven out with the other Saints in 1846, making their way across Iowa in the cold winter and early spring.  There, heeding Brigham Young's call, George joined the Mormon Battalion in 1846 and participated in the great infantry trek from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, along the Santa Fe Trail and across northwest Mexico to San Diego.  Rosters show that he was Chief Musician of Company B.  He was mustered out in Los Angeles and made his way to Salt Lake City where he expected to find his wife and child.  Unfortunately, the money he had left in Winter Quarters for their transport to Salt Lake had been absconded.  Therefore, he continued on to Winter  Quarters to bring his family out west himself in 1952.  Shortly thereafter, he accepted a call to settle in Morgan Utah, where he built the first gristmill, married a second wife, and raised a large family.  To this day, the descendants of George Washington Taggart meet in large reunions every other year.  As a whole they are delightful educated people.  (Dropping the name"Taggart" has always served me well.)

(Ben Lomond, North Ogden, Utah)

(Charles Wallace and Margaret Montgomery Taggart-grandparents)

(a young John Taggart family, Uncle Roy, Aunt Floss, Grandma Taggart)

North Ogden family home)

Dad's maternal great-grandparents, Robert and Mary Wilson Montgomery, emigrated from Scotland in 1831 settling in Ontario, Canada.  In the spring of 1845 two missionaries came to their door, the family became interested, and soon joined the church.  After a year, the family left Canada to join the body of the church in Nauvoo only to find the Saints had been driven out by a mob.  After living for four years in Van Buren County, Iowa, the family sold their home and farm, joined the Warren Foote Company, and started across the plains.  The Montgomerys eventually settled in Weber County, Utah, at the foot of Ben Lomond.  Mary Wilson Montgomery (my great great grandmother) is credited with naming Ben Lomond peak in Weber County after her beloved mountain in Scotland.

Families are made up of two lines and many many branches.  Our roots go back to Scotland (Taggart, Montgomery), England (Fielding, Foulger, Burton), and Wales (Thomas).  From this royal genetic line have come many of the good circumstances in which I find myself.  From these loins we have inherited a good worth ethic, a healthy rigor, an independent spirit, a certain amount of wanderlust, and an ability to discern truth in many sources.  These were and are men and women of great honor and accomplishment.  The scoundrels, if any, are left in the shadows.  Repeatedly, one finds examples of great commitment and sacrifice in the service of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  Going back four and five generations, you will find those who gave up ALL they had to join the church and gather with the Saints to start a new life in Zion.  Some were poor; others were semi-prosperous.  They all started over in the empty mountain valleys of northern Utah.  Most were farmers to begin with because everyone farmed then, but they did not simply subsist.  They built a civilization and created a culture.  They laid a foundation on which we now stand and from which we build.


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