Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy 206th Birthday, Addison Everett (1806-1885)!

Gawain's great-great-grandfather

Addison Everett was a Nauvoo stalwart, and a member of the first company to reach Salt Lake as Brigham Young's teamster.
ancestral bonding

Addison was raised in New York, the third of twelve children descended from English colonizers. Addison’s father was a deacon in Presbyterian Church in New York, and Addison was raised with deep religious convictions. He attended various revivals and once he learned of the gospel, was the first man baptized in the New York branch. He was baptized by Elijah Fordham, and confirmed by Parley P. Pratt (and is mentioned in the fictional Work and the Glory account of this era).  Addison’s wife Eliza was of prominent New York Dutch ancestry, but she died young; Addison sent the children, including son Schuyler, to be cared for by their grandmother until he remarried four years later. His new wife Orpha was a schoolteacher who knew Latin and Hebrew. Addison was a skilled ship joiner, and worked in the Brooklyn Navy yards near New York City, earning good wages at the dock. He also acted as a policeman in New York and later in Nauvoo.

Addison gathered with the Saints in Nauvoo, where he served as a bishop and helped build the Nauvoo Temple as a carpenter. He was one of fifteen men selected by the temple architect to prepare the timbers. Sometimes he had nothing to eat but frozen potatoes, without even salt. One of the brethren said, “Brother Everett, how do you manage it?  I’m starving!” To this he answered, “Well, I work as long as I can, then I tighten up my belt another notch and go at it again.” 

Addison was a member of the Nauvoo Legion and played the drum in the Nauvoo Legion band. He helped destroy the apostate printing press, The Nauvoo Expositor, and helped wash and guard the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith after the martyrdom.  He played in the band as they brought the bodies into Nauvoo, and often told how the martyrs were brought into the city wrapped in flags, followed by the band playing a martial air called “Liberty” with muffled drums. Weighted coffins were buried in the public ceremony and the real bodies later buried at night in a private lot, and Addison helped guard those against body-snatchers. Tears rolled down his face as he would tell these stories and he said, “Those were the days that tried men’s souls.”  

He was so greatly bereaved at the martyrdom that he took his family to visit Carthage Jail, and had them look out of the window where Joseph Smith was killed. Addison later wrote a letter detailing some of Joseph’s teachings and an account of the Priesthood restoration, and said, “It is a source of satisfaction and pleasure to me to have seen and heard the Prophet of God.”
window at Carthage jail
The Everetts were among the last to leave Nauvoo as Addison was finishing the temple, and his wife and children preceded him. He was proud of a wagon he made with very little iron, the wheels bound with hickory. Addison was bishop of the 21st Ward in Winter Quarters, and was called to be in Brigham Young’s pioneer company. He left his family behind and was a captain of fifty in Brigham’s third ten; he also drove Brigham Young’s ox team. He had the responsibility to keep watch and prepared the sacrament on the journey. Addison arrived in the Salt Lake valley with the advance company on July 24, 1847.  He started back towards Winter Quarters for his family, but on the way found they were already in Wyoming.  When the advance guard said, “Hello, Addison, Orpha is in the company,” Addison threw his hat in the air, jumped up and kicked his heels together and yelled “Hurrah for Orpha!” He was so glad they could return to the valley together and spend the winter building a new home instead of waiting to cross the plains again.  

Addison served as the first bishop of the Salt Lake 8th Ward, and as the bishops had to feed the new immigrants until they were established, the Everetts were perpetually impoverished. Each ward produced a specialty, and the 8th ward made hats (Addison had encouraged his Winter Quarters congregation to make and sell baskets). Orpha’s history states that Addison and his wife were chosen by Addison Pratt to serve a mission to Tahiti, so they started to learn the language (Pratt taught a class in Tahitian to prospective missionaries in Salt Lake the winter of 1849), but Brigham Young vetoed it as he wanted Addison to stay as bishop in Salt Lake.   
Addison Everett's daybed in the St. George DUP museum
In 1855 Addison was called on a mission to Green River, Wyoming to build Fort Supply. He helped dig ditches, build dams, and was a great friend to the Indians, often caring for sick Indians who were left behind by their tribe. Once when his daughter was coming home to St. George for a visit, her wagon had a breakdown and they had to leave their load many miles away. An Indian came along who said, “You are Addison’s papoose,” and guarded their property until their return.
map of St. George lots; Addison at the corner of 2nd South and Main
In 1861 Addison and his family were called to the Dixie Mission and settled in St. George. His young plural wife Hannah chose to stay in St. George with her widowed mother, and her branch of the family is not well-known to the St. George descendants. Addison worked in the St. George Temple ceaselessly from the time it opened until his death (one account says he died while serving his God in the temple); he and Orpha endowed upwards of two thousand kindred dead. Addison did not have the opportunity of gaining a great deal of education and book learning, but had a common practical education that enabled him to demand respect among the best classes of people. He was remembered as being a devoted and zealous servant of God.

descendants making "the Addison face"
However, in our family he is unfortunately also remembered for his frowny face, which we call the Addison face.  So I would give him a joke book to make him smile!

Addison & Adison


  1. Wow! He did a lot of great things. I'd give him a new photo shoot so that he wouldn't be remembered just by that expression.

  2. Hi Addison is my great great great uncle..his brother David was my GGG grandfather :) would love to connect
    my email is
    Mary Adair