Your Sunday Brunch Special (#3). Utah Artist James T. Harwood, 2: Early Utah Economics and Excommunication

Ok, so for this one, you can eat while you read. <grin>

We continue our exploration of the late James Taylor Harwood and his relation to Mormonism.
J. T. Harwood is a respected painter who did much of his work in the impressionist genre. In addition to the well-known LDS-commissioned work shown in part 1, here are a few more Harwood paintings:

First, “The Gleaners”

and, “French Countryside”

Harwood was born in 1860 in Lehi, Utah (about 30 miles South of Salt Lake City). In the last part we were considering Harwood’s father, James Harwood, and we finish his story now.

In 1856 James Harwood was elected county constable. He states that on one Saturday in April, after

coming in from the field in the evening I saw a crowd of men around Alfred Bell’s place. I stopped to find out what was wrong, when the Marshall came to me and gave in charge Jacob Lance,[1] said I must put him under guard as he was held for rape upon Mrs. Peterson. It being late, the investigation was put off until Monday. I took charge of the prisoner, who wanted to talk some to Bishop Evans and Bill Hickman, who were in court. I told him to do so. After he got through I took him over to my father’s where I was living. We sat down to supper. After he ate a little he quit, saying he was not hungry. Previous to come over he said he would like to make it up with the woman for he expected he would be killed during the night. The Justice told him it was beyond her power now to make it up for it was now the peoples case as she had filed an affadavit against him. Shortly after supper I took him over to my house close by. In a short time the Marshall came and took charge of the prisoner, putting on as extra guard John Lott and George Coleman. I stayed with them, it being my house and my bed was there. Lance lay down on the bed. After awhile I laid by him and was tired, soon went to sleep. Towards midnight I had a bad dream or nightmare. I had a large knife in my pocket with a long blade, I thought he had succeeded in getting it out of my pocket, and was trying to cut my throat with it. I did not like to lay there any longer so I got up for the rest of the night. Towards morning I was called out by a person. He asked me to go with him a short distance, when he stopped and said: “We are going to kill that cuss.” He said: “we had all fixed to do so when you was on the bed asleep. We were afraid to trust you for fear you might say something, but you woke and got up and stopped it.” Now, he said, ” we are going to do it and if you do not swear to be silent you will die too.” I could do nothing. I knew the party and the only way to save my life was to keep silent and they did do it. Just before daylight a person came into the room with a bolt in his hand, struck Lance on the head and in a short time he was dead.[2]

Harwood later observed that when the Washington appointees were admitted to the territory following Buchanan’s dispatch of Johnston’s force, regular court was established in Provo, Utah and the federal appointee, Judge John Cradlebaugh investigated a number of cases including Jacob Lance’s murder and the rape of “Mrs. Peterson.” Charges were brought that Lance was falsely accused in the matter to justify his murder.[3] Harwood and the others involved left town until Cradlebaugh gave up the case for lack of testimony. Harwood did his share of exploration for colonization in 1857 and upon his return to Lehi after Cradlebaugh’s failure to build a case, he found and fell in love with Sarah Jane Taylor. Her father, James Whitehead Taylor had recently been called on a mission to Europe and Harwood asked for Sarah’s hand in marriage, the engagement to end in marriage upon Taylor’s return to Utah. With the Utah War, missionaries were called home and Harwood was married in the same month JWT arrived. On April 8, 1860 James Taylor Harwood was born and two years later a daughter came along, Mary Jane. With the gold strike in Salmon, Idaho in 1860, James sold his wheat flour for a large profit to prospective miners and the family was able to settle in reasonably nice surroundings. James had followed his father Samuel’s profession in store-keeping and became fairly prosperous. But in his view, his prosperity made him a target of local Church leaders. The combination of this conflict and the beginning of cooperative institutions led to a double schism. One from the Church, one from his business:

I got along very well for a few years and built up a nice little trade. I got along very well and very friendly with the Bishop [Evans] as long as I was poor and had nothing, but as soon as I began to get something he commenced abusing me publicly from the stand and telling things that were not true. Things he told were false and I asserted publicly that they were and because I would not publicly acknowledge that I had done wrong in saying so and submit to be abused by him, I was cut [off] from the church. My business kept up all right, although he used all his influence against me, but when co-operated was started, all private institutions in the country were closed. Most of the people taking stock in those institutions would, of course, deal at their own store so I quit, bought a farm and followed farming for a few years.[4]

Sarah left the Church as well, and Harwood’s philosophy of marriage and family probably played into that and his family’s future connection with Mormonism:

We have always taught [our children] by example to lead a moral life and religious life if they wished. I have always said that I would not dictate what the children must believe. I have freely told my belief and the reason for such and when they are old enough to understand and choose for themselves we have advised them to do what they think best and have always said it is best for them when married to both be of the same belief, if sometimes some ideas have to be sacrificed. To make a happy home there must not be any clash in religious or political views and beliefs. Anything that may cause dissent should be left out of the home life.[5]

None of the Harwood children affiliated with the Church until they were adults. A couple of them married Church members however and then were baptized and actively associated with Mormonism. While J. T. married a Latter-day Saint, he would never join the Church and lived a life-style that would be quite different from his parents. We look briefly at James Taylor Harwood next time.

[1] Jacob Lance (1819-1856) married Mary Jane Marsh, August 1845, Nauvoo, Ill. Children: William James, Hannah Melissa, Orson Hyde, Myron Rice, Olive Lucretia. The Lance murder was discussed in congress and John Morrill (Vermont rep.) spent some time on the vagaries of Utah in his Feb. 23, 1857 speech in congress criticizing Utah laws, polygamy, slavery, taxation and politics in the state.

[2] Autobiography of James Harwood, typescript in my possession. The murderer was supposedly disguised to appear as a women. Morrill’s speech (note 1) makes reference to this. Harwood, without directly commenting on it, that there was no disguise at all. An earlier reference to Hickman may be connected to the incident, but Harwood names no names directly beyond the “guards.”

[3] Cradlebaugh had a very low opinion of the Mormons and the more moderate recently installed governor, Alfred Cumming, and found it unconscionable that Brigham and co. were not summarily executed after the army finally made its way through the mountains in 1858. Cradlebaugh investigated an array of cases which he assigned to the actions of “Danites” when he returned to the East.

[4] Harwood, autobiography. Samuel Harwood had left the church by this time, but remained in Utah until his death in 1892. Economically, James was a successful polyglot, occasionally returning to the harness making business, operating a railroad freight house, becoming a county official in various capacities and local U.S. postmaster following Edmunds-Tucker, etc. His take on state politics is fascinating, but too long for this. Harwood’s recital of events here is probably a little skewed in chronology. More than likely, his business was seen as competition to the co-op movement and his relative success may very well have been assigned to dishonesty, etc. Family stories passed down from the era frame this as spiritual conflict more than a dishonest bishop trying to stain an honest businessman. Arrington rightly saw the Church mediated co-op as necessary to the region’s successful development. (Great Basin Kingdom, 411.)

[5] Ibid. Harwood and Sarah had 12 children. Two daughters became Latter-day Saints in adulthood.


  1. Thanks for the write-up, WVS. These same tensions are quite evident in the recent biographies written by Ron Watt and Poly Aird. The pressures during this time, especially in Utah valley were tremendous.

  2. Thanks for this. I am descended from James Whitehead Taylor.

  3. gst, me too!

  4. They were wild times in many ways, J. And as you know, pulpit rhetoric even before the reformation could be construed as excusing vigilanteism.

  5. I wonder how common this kind of excommunication was.

    One of my wife’s great grandparents was excommunicated because he supported civil management of water rights in his town instead of stake control. The family story is that he continued to go to church with his family for the next several decades, and when he was old, his children urged him to get rebaptized. He said that as far has he was concerned, he had never left. His membership was reinstated when he was still alive, and he did not get rebaptized.

  6. Paul 2, I’ve looked at this a bit, but it’s not my main interest. But based on what I have seen there was wide variation in application of excommunication for things. The application varied also with regard to time period within the first 40 years of valley occupation.

  7. There seems to have been some sort of review by the first presidency regarding excommunications from this period even through the early turn of the century. I have seen archive letters to disenfranchized LDS who were excommunicated without the appropriate protocol (usually by a renegade bishop acting alone). The letters essentially state that the excommunication was not carried out appropriately (according to scriptoral and church policy) and that membership was still in effect. My few letters are nothing more than anecdotal evidence, one would realy have to somehow get access to F.P. archives to see if it was indeed a larger project o simply an isolated incident or two. Did the church go through the records attached to a few dubious bishops and/or stake presidents or did they do a larger sweep of excommunicated names? It would have been a big project to have tracked down these lost sheep prior to phone directories and the internet!

  8. blueagleranch says:

    Fascinating stuff! I am particularly interested in the account of the Jacob Lance affair which I am looking at from the standpoint of the crime’s victim. I would love to discuss this with you online. Please email me at lundjl [at] mstarmetro [dot] net.

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