William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr.

William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr.

William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr.--pioneer and family patriarch-- lived a span of 76 years. He moved to the expanding frontier of the west five times--in as many different states--building anew each time. His living posterity in the fourth, fifth, and sixth generations number several thousands. He embraced the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and endured many hardships during the latter part of his life in helping to establish the newly organized Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. His life is characterized by these three things:

  • His religious faith and devotion,
  • His pioneering spirit which led to the building of new homes and communities,
  • The noble achievement and accomplishment of his large posterity, to whom he gave a noble birth.

The details of his accomplishments and of his later life can best be learned by reading the histories of the various branches of the family. These branches number 54 grandchildren who grew to maturity, of whom over 40 married and left posterity of their own. Various members of the family have settled over a wide geographical area. They rooted primarily in Wisconsin, Canada, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and Utah, and have spread far and wide from these places.

William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., was born 30 March, 1797, in Peacham, Caledonia, Vermont, the son of Ephraim Lindsay and Mercy Willey. His father moved to Canada about 1806 or 1807, with his family of 10 children, two sons, and eight daughters. They settled in Bastard Township, Johnson District, Leeds County, Ontario, Canada. The United Empire Loyalists settled Ontario, Upper Canada, beginning in 1783. Although Canada was still offering inducement to settlers after 1800, it seems doubtful that Ephraim Lindsay was of loyalist sympathy. His ancestry had a long history of struggles with the English and he, himself, was a Revolutionary War veteran. It seems likely that Ephraim Lindsay was attracted to Canada because of supposed economic opportunity.

"Old Father Lindsay", as Ephraim was called, lived at one time with his son-in-law, Reuben Sherwood, who married Percis Lindsay. William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., and his brother Thomas, grew to manhood there on the shores of Rideau Lake. William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., bought 50 acres of land located about one-half mile from the western shore of the lake (1). He purchased this first land on the 27th of June, 1816, at the age of 19 years, from his brother-in-law, Reuben Sherwood. He purchased another 27 acres of adjoining land on 29 December, 1832, from his brother Thomas (2). Rideau Lake is located about 30 to 40 miles north and east of Brockville and the St. Lawrence River, which separates Canada and New York State.

The Rideau River and canal form a series of small lakes all along the northern boundary of Leeds and Grenville counties. The main body of Rideau Lake, near which William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., bought his land, is about four miles across from north to south, and about three miles across from wets to east. It is spotted with small islands. There are numerous lakes all throughout the Province Of Ontario.

About 1819, 13 years after William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., moved to Canada with his father, he married Sarah Myres, who was from Yorkshire, England. Family records show eight children born to this couple, five boys and three girls. The Wisconsin Census of 1840 shows another male child living with the family at that time (3). William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., and Sarah spent the first 20 years of their married life in the Rideau Lake area. Their oldest child, Ephraim Myres Lindsay, was 19 years of age when the family moved to Wisconsin. the youngest child, George Richard Lindsay, was three years old.

The soil and climate in Canada were not favorable for growth of crops. Jane Parish states in her history that snow lay on the ground for six months out of the year and that the land was quite rocky. It was also typical of farmers during this early period to till the soil until the fertility was depleted and then move on to virgin soil. Another factor probably contributing to the move was the need for economic opportunity for five sons. Opportunity in the great plains region was twofold: A rich, fertile soil in the farming regions, and a large lead mining operation in southern Wisconsin, which started to produce commercially about 1925.

In 1839, William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., sold his farm in Canada and took his family from Brockville down the length of Lake Ontario by steamer to Niagara Falls; from here to Lake Erie by wagon; across Lake Erie by boat; across the State Of Michigan and around the southern tip of Lake Michigan by wagon, to Illinois. One history places the family in Galena, Jo Daviess county, Illinois, in 1839, which is just across the border from southern Wisconsin. The 1840 Territorial Census of Wisconsin places the family in Easter Iowa county, Wisconsin. In this census one member of the family is shown as employed in agriculture and another adult male is shown employed in mining.

The following description from a social economic history of the United States describes the circumstances of the Wisconsin area in which William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., and his family settled in 1839:

"While farmers spread over the timbered lands of the southern Lake Palines, other pioneers from the south moved northward in search of a new source of wealth. Their goal was the driftless area of northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin, a region of rugged hills and deeply eroded streams by-passed by the glaciers which smoothed the surrounding country. That rough area offered few agricultural possibilities, but lying beneath thin layers of eroded shale were outcroppings of rock containing rich veins of lead and other minerals. Both Indians and French traders had tapped this mineral wealth, but systematic exploitation did not begin until 1822, when a Kentucky promoter, Colonel James A. Johnston, arrived with supplies, miners, and 150 slaves. His success inspired a mining rush; by 1830, 10,000 frontiersmen had staked out claims, built the bustling town of Galena at the head of navigation of the Fever River, and were shipping 15,000,000 rounds of lead yearly to New Orleans (4)."

It was in Wisconsin in 1841 that William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. The baptism was said to be performed in or at Fox Lake, as supposedly told in the Deseret News about 1870 - 1873 (5). Sarah, his wife, William Buckminster Lindsay, Jr., his son, and Edwin Reuben Lindsay, Sr., his son, were baptized the following year.

During the eight years from 1845 to 1853, William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr's household was reduced from ten persons to two: he and his son, George Richard. In 1845, Ephraim Myers Lindsay married Jane Parish and William Buckminster Lindsay, Jr., married Julia Parks. The eldest daughter, Mary, died in Wisconsin. In 1850, Thomas Myres Lindsay married Sarah Jane Dobbs and Edwin Reuben Lindsay married Tabitha Cragun. Thomas and Mercey, in the meantime, stayed behind in Argyle, Lafayette, Wisconsin, when the rest of the family left to gather with the Saints who were on their way westward. Mercy married George Richard Davy in 1854. William Buckminster Lindsay's wife, Sarah, died of cancer on 24 October, 1852, within three months after the group arrived in the Salt Lake Valley from Iowa. She was ill before the family left Iowa, but had urged them on so that she could be with the body of the Saints before her death. The next year his daughter, Sarah, died in Kaysville or Centerville.

This is getting a little ahead of the story. In early 1846, the Mormons were forced by mob action to move from Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois. Of the two children who were married in Nauvoo, and were with the Saints at the time of their exodus, William Buckminster Lindsay, Jr., left his wife under the care of his brother, Ephraim Myres Lindsay, and went with the first group of Saints across Iowa as a body guard to Brigham Young.

He returned from the advanced camp to join his brother and their wives, and then left for Wisconsin to persuade his parents, brothers, and sisters to join with them in the trek west. It is not certain that Ephraim and his wife went with William Buckminster Lindsay, Jr., to Wisconsin. They stayed in Wisconsin for a while because Julia's first child was born there. Ephraim Myers and Jane had a child born in Des Moines, Iowa, which means that they either waited there or the child was born on the trip to join with the Saints.

William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., his wife, Sarah Myres, and five of his children assembled in Kanesville, Opttawattomie, Iowa, in 1848. Here they settled for a period of four years, to grow food and assemble resources to sustain them during the trip west. With them also was John Myres, brother to Sarah. It was in John Myres' home in Kanesville that Edwin Reuben Lindsay married Tabitha Cragun in 1850. There were over 40 branches of the Saints gathered at Kanesville during these years.

William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., was ordained a High Priest in the McAlney Branch, located three miles north of Kanesville, on October 6, 1849, by L. Stoddard. The family members joined with the Captain John B. Walker Company for the trip across the Plains. This company left Kanesville July 5, 1852, and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley October 3, 1852. They traveled a distance of approximately 1,000 miles in three months. There were 250 people in the company.

The Lindsays settled temporarily in Centerville, Davis, Utah, where the parents of Jane Parish, wife of Ephraim Myres Lindsay, had settled. Here, within three weeks, Sarah Myres Lindsay died at the age of 52 from cancer, from which she suffered during the trip across the plains. It was at her insistence that the family made the trip west during her illness, because she wanted to join with the Saints and to have her family with them before she died.

William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., and his sons and their families, settled in the Kaysville area for about 10 years, where they tried their hand at farming. The following extract from a short history of Kaysville is quoted to show how the outermost settlements were practically without boundaries:

"Kaysville was named after William Kay. He had been a great leader of the Mormons. In 1851 he was appointed Bishop of the first Ward in this area. It was called Kays Ward, and included all of the area north and west of the present town of Kaysville. As more settlers moved in, gradually more towns and Wards were organized, until now more than 110 years later, the area included in the original Kays Ward has become the towns of Kaysville, Layton, Clearfield, Syracuse, West Point, Clinton, and Sunset (6)."

Very little is known about the activities of William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., during the time of over 10 years that he lived in the Davis County, Utah, area. He made a trip to Salt Lake City in 1861, where he received his Endowments in the Endowment House. The lack of reservoirs and canals, and water, made farming in this area and period a most difficult task. He and his sons, George Richard, and William Buckminster, Jr., moved to Bear Lake Valley about 1864, where Charles C. Rich had been sent by Brigham Young to establish a new settlement. Edwin Reuben and Ephraim Myres had settled at Brigham City and did not follow until later.

Two personal incidents are recorded which help to portray the character of our forefather. While he lived with his son at South Eden, Idaho, he would go by boat with his dog Touser across Bear Lake to Paris, Idaho, on the other end of the lake for supplies (7). People would try to get him not to start back to Eden in storms, when the lake was rough. He said Bear Lake was easy to ride--he has learned to ride the waves in severe stroms and was not afraid to venture on Bear Lake.

Another incident happened in the autumn before he died. He left Bennington, Idaho, on foot, to walk to Utah to do Temple work (8). His son, George Richard, learned of his plans and overtook him with a team and persuaded him to come back and wait until the next summer, when George Richard promised to accompany him.

William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., died that winter, the 25th of December, 1873.

It has been recorded that he and his sons were violinists. Many of his grandchildren were taught to play the violin and to entertain with other forms of music. The last few years of his life were spent in Bear Lake Valley among the children and many grandchildren. He and his son, George Richard, shared a log cabin they had built. William Buckminster Lindsay, Sr., was buried in Montpelier, Idaho.


(1)  Lot 27 of the first concession of Burgess Township.

(2)  This was the upper part of lot 26 of the first concession in Bastard Township. His land crossed the boundary of the two townships after this purchase.

(3)  The identity of this child has not been established.

(4)  Billington, Ray Allen, Westward Expansion, New York: The Macmillian Company, 1960, page 297.

(5)  This has not been verified; a brief search did not locate the specific reference.

(6)  Living In Our Communities, Farmington, Utah: Davis County School District (pamphlet).