Isaac Wilson Fox

Life Sketch


John Alfred Fox, Grandson

Retyped from purple ditto copy with formatting and punctuation changes

By Dayleen Felt, February 2003


[This brief history was written by John Alfred Fox, and prepared from his memories and those of other members of the family.  Family records, Lehi histories, and life sketches delivered at annual family gatherings have also been used.  The lives of our forebearers have been fruitful, their experiences plentiful, their wisdom sound.  And their thoughts and expressions are of great interest and value to all their posterity—and this, if all could be revealed.  It will give at least some of their endeavors and achievements.  All to the purpose of demonstrating the heritage they have left us.  To have known them personally would be to appreciate them and the values, virtues, and testimony that they had and bore.  To all who have contributed to this short history in any way I am sincerely appreciative and grateful.]



Isaac Wilson Fox was the son of Robert Fox (born 12 April 1787) and Martha Wilson.  He was born 28 June 1818 at Hathersage, Derbyshire, England.  Well balanced and sturdily built, at maturity he was six feet tall, or more, with blue eyes.


In his boyhood and early life, he engaged himself in music and outdoor sports.  He had a natural ability for music, and in his leisure time he enjoyed cricket playing, foot racing, and wrestling.  He became very efficient in these activities.  He liked to play checkers, chess, and other such games with his family, friends, and associates.


As long as I knew him, he wore a well kept beard, as the books of remembrance will show.  However, one picture I have, which was taken with his wife and first two children, shows him clean shaven. 


He loved the beauties of nature.


As he reached maturity, he met a young lady named Margaret Ann Slinn from Sheffield, Yorkshire, who was visiting her relatives in Hathersage (by the names of Marshall and Slinn).  The meeting of Isaac and Margaret Ann Slinn resulted in courtship and, in time, their marriage on 29 June, 1839.


To Isaac Wilson and Margaret Ann Slinn Fox were born six children:

            1.  Charles Slinn Fox, born 5 January 1840 in Sheffield, died 26 November 1844 at      Keasvonvale, Yorkshire (See Note “A” at end of this history)

            2.  Alfred Marshall Fox, born 3 September 1842 in Sheffield, died 28 May 1920-1922 in         Lehi, Utah

            3.  Martha Ann Fox, born 11 July 1844 in Sharovale, Yorkshire, died 2 May 1940 in    Lehi, Utah

            4.  Robert Fox, born 28 October 1846 in Deepcar, Yorkshire, died 15 January 1933 in            Lehi, Utah

            5.  *Isaac Fox, born 17 May 1849 in Leeds, Yorkshire, died 29 April 1934 in Lehi,     Utah

            6.  Caroline (Carrie) Fox, born 12 April 1851 in Leeds, Yorkshire, died 4 April 1933 in            Phoenix, Arizona


Isaac learned the art of tempering steel and worked in the Haccle and Gill Pin trade for Murray Clayton in the Peter Fairbanks Works in Leeds, and later he worked for Thomas Harding in the Cutlery Business.  Margaret Ann had a set of cutlery from that company when she died.  When Isaac and Margaret heard the gospel, they were soon ready to be baptized and anxious to come into the Church.


Isaac was baptized and confirmed 24 October 1848 at Sheffield by Elder Crandall Dunn.  When he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he added his mother’s maiden name to his as a middle name (Wilson) for genealogical reasons.  He was ordained a priest 8 April 1849 by Elder James Marsden, and ordained an Elder 1 May 1853 by Thomas F. Brodrick.  On 15 May 1853 he was called to preside over the Leeds Branch.  Following that, he was called to preside over the Bradford Branch 1 December 1856.  On 7 January 1857 he was made president of the Glasgow District and set apart by Samuel W. Richards.  Here he labored until he came to America in March of 1860.


According to his family record, he baptized his father, Robert Fox, in Glasgow 17 December 1859, who was then confirmed the same day by Elder William Gibson.


After accepting the gospel and while the Foxes were still in Europe, the missionaries were always welcome in their home.  President Phineas H. Young made his headquarters at their home while in the area.


When the time came for their departure, they sailed from Glasgow 5 May 1860 for Liverpool and arrived on the 6th, the following day.  They left Liverpool on 11 May 1860 to sail for America.  They sailed on the boat William Tapscott with Captain William Bell in command.  Brother William Budge was in charge of the Saints who were emigrating with that party.  There were 731 Church members on board ship.  During the voyage there were ten deaths, four births, and five marriages.  The sailing time was six weeks.  Also traveling in the company from Liverpool were the Trane, Colledge, and Fjeld families.  They, too, settled in Lehi, Utah, USA.  During the journey, young Joseph Colledge and Isaac Fox (my father), who was about ten years of age and full of ambition and energy, one day climbed into the rigging of the boat, frightening their parents and causing much excitement until they returned to the boat deck.


During the voyage at sea, there was a quarantine for several days because of some cases of small pox.  Their diet while crossing the ocean consisted almost entirely of hard, coarse sea-biscuits, which had to be soaked in liquid before they could be eaten, and a little bacon and tea—which was the full ration, and they were not allowed what they could eat of this.  This unnatural diet caused considerable sickness.  Isaac Wilson and Margaret both were ill during the entire voyage.  The saints traveled second class.  The third class passengers were much worse off and, owing to these unsanitary conditions, small pox had broken out.


They landed 20 June 1860 in New York.  Upon reaching there, Margaret Ann and her two girls, Martha Ann and Caroline, were able to sleep in the home of two of her cousins, George and Ann Marshall (who were also cousins before their marriage) who lived there.  George Marshall was in the hardware business and was very well situated financially.  Isaac Wilson and the boys--Charles, Alfred, Isaac, and Robert—visited with them but slept in the hotel.  Only a day or two after landing, they took the train to go west.


Traveling by train and boat, they at last reached Winter Quarters where the family stayed while Isaac Wilson went on to Florence, Nebraska, where he bought two yoke of oxen, a wagon, and other supplies they would need to cross the plains.  The company, when organized, consisted of about 55 wagons, 215 oxen, 77 cows, and over 400 persons, who still traveled under the leadership of “Captain” William Budge.  As most of the men had never seen an ox team before—and many of the oxen were unbroken--they had considerable difficulty in getting started. 


Many interesting experiences occurred during the long, tedious, and wearisome journey.  Herds of buffalo would often sweep wildly by and in front of the train of wagon teams causing the oxen to become frightened and run away with the wagons.  One day this happened to the Fox family group.


Isaac Wilson and his older boys saw the condition in time and ran and stood in front of their team, thereby holding them in check.  Thus, the teams behind were all kept in line while the poor teams ahead all took to the chase.  Isaac’s boyfriend, Joseph Colledge, alone in the wagon just ahead of their own, put his head out the back of the wagon cover yelling, “Oh Mother, you will never see your boy again!”  But the men riding horses and on guard duty soon had the oxen under control and back in order with no damage done.


All the men, women, and children were required to walk as much of the time as possible, except those who were physically unable, in order to conserve the animals’ strength.  Isaac would sing songs to help entertain the company as they traveled to Utah.  When President George Q. Cannon met young Isaac much later in life, he asked him if he was the young man who sang as they crossed the plains.


At this time, the two largest Indian tribes, the Sioux and Pawnee, were at war with each other.  One time when the Sioux were moving their squaws and papooses back into the mountains away from the fighting, about 500 of them followed the saints for three days, camping only a short distance away at night.  This caused much uneasiness.  Captain Budge went to each of the sub-captains of the wagon train and asked them to gather from each of their ten wagons whatever they could spare of sugar, flour, meat, and anything else they might not need.  The captains then took the collection and gave it to the Indian chief.  He put it all in a pile and then formed a circle of men around it, alternating a white man and then an Indian, until all the white men who had helped bring the supplies to the Indians were used in the circle.  Then all smoked the pipe of peace.


The next morning, the Indians all departed in another direction without causing any trouble.  A few days later, a Pawnee Indian, wearing a soldier’s cap and coat—but otherwise dressed as an Indian—and carrying a white cloth tied to a stick, was seen.  Two days later, he was found scalped and left on the banks of the Platte River.  He had gone to make peace with the Sioux, and they had killed him. 


Several days later, two persons were seen making for the head wagon of the train.  As they approached, it proved to be a squaw with a pretty white girl about eighteen years of age.  Captain Budge sent word along for no one to speak to them, as the girl might want to go with the emigrants, and it might cost the lives of many of the company.


Much could be told of the long, interesting journey.  You can imagine what a happy band of despised Mormons--very true followers of the Master, and filled with joy and thanksgiving to their Heavenly Father—they were upon arriving in Salt Lake City among their own on 5 October 1860.  They stayed in Salt Lake City for October conference.  Isaac Wilson’s family stayed with President Phineas H. Young one week.  After leaving Salt Lake City, they arrived in Lehi, Utah County, Utah, 12 October 1860.  Here they entered into community activities, acquired property, and began making a permanent home for themselves—here in the West, in the beautiful Rocky Mountains where they could sing and truly mean “Oh Ye Mountains High,” “Come, Come Ye Saints,” and many other inspirational hymns.


Margaret Ann Slinn and Eliza Ann Brain, Isaac Wilson’s second wife, were sealed to him on 5 January 1861 in the Endowment House by President Brigham Young.


Isaac Wilson was ordained a Seventy 2 December 1862 by John Brown and was accepted into the 68th Quorum 8 May 1869.  He was issued a United States citizenship certificate by Judge Patrick Lynch of the Third District Court.


Upon the death of Eliza Ann, his second wife, in 1865, he married this third wife, Catherine Sophia Simmons 31 May 1869 in the Endowment House, with Daniel H. Wells officiating.  Catherine was born 7 July 1850 in London, England, daughter of Henry and Catherine Davis Simmons.


Isaac Wilson was set apart as a President in the 68th Quorum of Seventy 17 January 1872.  He became Senior President 12 January 1880, which office he held until he was ordained a High Priest.  He was appointed Presiding Priest of the Third District (called Lehi Junction, at Railroad Junction), which later became Lehi 3rd Ward, by Bishop David Evans.  He was appointed President of the Acting Priests in Lehi on 2 November 1884 by Thomas R. Cutler.  On 13 March 1881 he was chosen with William Southwick, Thomas R. Jones, and Charles Barnes to preside over the Lehi North Branch until 1 October 1893.


In the early days of Lehi, he was called to act as herbist and doctor among the people who used herbs and nature methods.  In this, he received much commendation and made many friends.  In preparing to render these services, his wives assisted wherever and whenever the opportunity came.  Some of his books on medicines he brought with him from England.  These books and others were destroyed by a fire in the home of one of his daughters after his death.  The name of one of the books was Dr. Gunn’s Book of Herb Remedies.


He used many of the roots, herbs, and leaves of Utah County in preparing the medicines.  His daughter, Lucy Fox Whitman, remembered some of the herbs and remedies used.  Some of these are given here as she remembered them.


1 teaspoon of castor oil and 10 drops of turpentine—for fever

Red pepper and coal oil for croup

Wagon grease and mustard as poultice for colds

Sulphur, saltpeter, wormwood, burdock leaves and roots, dandelion roots—for             blood

Peach bark, licorice, Saphorn leaves for liver trouble

Peppermint leaves as tea for stomach

Flaxseed tea for colds

Flaxseeds ground as a poultice for healing and drawing purposes

Sunflower seeds in a tea for kidney trouble

Sagebrush leaves burned, the ashes of which are shaken thru sieve—used for    treatment of goiter

Golden seal leaves, camphor, and turpentine for rubbing

Witch hazel and wintergreen, equal parts, for rubbing


His remedies in treating people who became afflicted with lead poisoning while working in the mines were very successful.  Clyde S. Fox, a grandson to Isaac Wilson Fox, said he remembered going with Isaac through the fields gathering the roots, plants, berries, etc., with which he prepared his remedies.  Isaac received much commendation for his herb medicines from the older citizens of the area.  His preparation for diphtheria was used by me--John A. Fox--Grandmother Zimmerman (mother of my mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman), Uncle Suel Zimmerman, and Isaac Wilson’s son, Isaac, in 1892 when we all had the disease.  With faith in the Lord and the medicine, we were all brought through our sickness and regained our health.


I recall one incident Grandmother Margaret Ann Slinn tells of her experience helping Isaac Wilson among the sick.  Edwin Standring, a friend and townsman, was very ill.  They two, with other friends and neighbors, did all possible to help.  It seemed all that was done was of no avail.  During the night, he seemed to rally, and all thought he would make it all right.  While he was resting in sleep, most of those helping left for their homes for a little rest.  Early next morning a young man and close neighbor was sent to tell Margaret Ann that Edwin was dead.  She questioned the young man in a doubtful tone, and he said, “Can’t you believe me?”  She replied in her characteristically mild way, “Thomas, you know you have been such a liar.”  (He had been one given to playing pranks and joking until it was hard to tell when he was to be believed.)  This event made him determine that he would change his life.


Isaac Wilson and his older sons—Alfred, Robert, and Isaac—helped build the first telegraph lines into the state (then a territory) along the railroad to Promontory Point and from Salt Lake City to Nephi, Utah.  They helped in the building of the Provo Canal, the irrigation projects, and the civic and Church needs of the time.


Isaac Wilson filled a stake mission in the old Utah Stake (which then comprised all of Utah County).  He was set apart for this 6 October 1886 by Abraham O. Smoot.


He was sentenced 23 March 1889 to the State Penitentiary for 35 days for unlawful co-habitation (polygamy), but was released 26 April 1889.  To comply with the recent laws in this matter, he then was required to maintain a separate abode for each wife, which he did by using his shed-type granary (a one-room home).  That was one of my first memories of him, as we lived with grandmother until after the Manifesto of 1890.


George Comer, Jesse Smith, and Isaac Wilson were great pals after they first met when Uncle Alfred (Alfred Marshall Fox) was sent to Wyoming to assist stranded emigrants.  Among the group were these two families who were assigned to travel with Alfred to Salt Lake City, then to Lehi.  The three men spent much of their leisure, pleasure, and study times together.  Chess and checkers were much enjoyed by them.


As a young boy, I heard Brother Comer in a conversation with grandfather say, “Well, no one man knows it all, do he, Bro. Fox?”  The peculiar English brogue was the impressive thing then, but later the truth becomes stronger than brogue.


Grandfather Isaac Wilson Fox died 10 June 1908 in Lehi, Utah, seventeen days short of 90 years of age.  He had 17 children, 13 of whom survived him.  He has a large posterity—many hundred.  On 28 June 1930, at a family gathering, the report was given that there were then over 400 descendants.





NOTE A:  Charles (Wilson) Fox, brother of Isaac Wilson Fox, came to Utah in 1857.  He settled in Lehi and became very friendly with Lorenzo H. Hatch.  Charles married a widow named Elizabeth (Scorborough) Brook Fox.  The story in the death report in the news clipping of Elizabeth states that Lorenzo became acquainted with the Fox family in England while on a mission.  When the Foxes came to Utah, they lived in Lehi where Lorenzo lived until 1863.  The Hatches then moved to Franklin, Cache Valley, and Charles and his wife went with them.