Ellis Ames, Sr. (Eames)
Olive Jane Gibbs Ames
Sarah Haskell Ames

Introduction to the Ames Families.

  Ellis Augustus Eames (later Ames) was born 19 Jan 1809 at Mentor, Geagua County, Ohio.  In 1831 a large number of Mormons settled in nearby Kirtland and Eames joined that church the same year.  We know he married a Julia Smith on 13 August 1831*; they had a daughter, Zelpha Abagail, but we know nothing else about this marriage.  He was twice a missionary for the Mormon Church, beginning his missions in 1834 and 1844.  He married Olive Jane Gibbs at Jackson County, Missouri somewhere around 1835.  On 30 October 1838 they and their four children narrowly escaped being killed in the Haun's Mill Massacre.  That same year the Mormons were driven from Missouri and he settled in Nauvoo, Illinois.  He played the fiddle at dances held in the Nauvoo Temple.  When the Mormons left Illinois to go to Utah he was made a member of the elite pioneer company, but illness forced him to return to Iowa and he didn't make it to Utah until 1850.  On 24 November 1850 in Salt Lake City Eames was married by Brigham Young to Olive and another girl, Sarah Haskell.  In the 1850 Utah Federal Census his occupation is listed as "fiddler".  They settled in Utah County and Eames became the first mayor of Provo.  In March of 1854 Eames and his two wives and 10 children endured a very difficult journey to settle in San Bernardino as a part of the Mormon colony there.  They traveled in company with the following families:  Otha Wells, George Haskell, James B. Woodward, John Sassanette, Robert Singleton, Moses Morse, Martin Potter, John De Witt, Reuben De Witt, Alley D. Boren, Beverly C. Boren, and Zina G. Ayer. 

  They traveled south through Fillmore City, Utah.  At this stop Otha Wells lost a horse valued at $1000 from overfeeding. They came through Salt Springs, and before arriving at Death Valley, approaching the Muddy River, the party came very nearly killed by a tribe of hostile Pinto Indians.  Crossing Death Valley, many cattle died and much of the provisions and clothing was discarded to lighten the loaded wagons.  Before they reached Bitter Springs the party almost perished from want of water.  They tried to drink the blood of a calf, but the heat was so intense that the blood curdled before they could drink it.  The party came into San Bernardino Valley through Cajon Pass, arriving at the fort on 8 June 1854.
--Adapted from "Otha Wells Story", Valley Quarterly, Vol. XVIII No. 2

To read a more detailed account of the journey to San Bernardino, click here.


  Ellis became the district attorney in 1856.  When the Utah War broke out in 1857 and the Mormons were forced to leave San Bernardino, Sarah and her children, Julia, George, Rudolph, and Sarah Angeline returned to Utah.  There she married a widower, Shadrach Richardson in 1860, had four more children, and died in childbirth 28 September 1869 at Payson.  Ellis and Olive and their children Ansel, Edson, Ellis, Jr., John, Eugene, Carlos, Antonett, and later Emma, Early, and Omera remained at San Bernardino.  Local history says he operated the Salamander sawmill.  By an oversight, the Eames (or Ames) family is not listed in the index to the 1860 California Federal Census, and we had assumed that he and his family may have returned to the East.  However, we now know that he stayed in San Bernardino until he died 12 October 1882.  He and his family associated themselves with the local Reorganized Latter-day Saints church.  Olive died at San Bernardino on 2 December 1900.

* Index to Marriage Applications, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Feb 23 1829-Aug 1851


  The following summary was written by Benjamin Franklin Stewart, husband to our Polly Richardson Stewart, describing Brother E-----, who is Ellis Eames, the only one selected for the Pioneer Company not to complete the journey to Utah with that group.  Ellis' second wife was Sarah Haskell Eames, who returned from San Bernardino when Ellis joined the Reorganized LDS Church, bringing her four children.  She married Shadrack Richardson, a brother of Polly Richardson Stewart.  Because of the family connection, this account is believed to be an accurate summary of Ellis' life.

A    P R O P H E C Y .

BY   B. F. S.

How true if the word of prophecy!  After the Pioneers, on their way to seek a location for the Saints, had been out some six or seven days from Winter Quarters, we met a company of mountaineers traveling to the Missouri river.  One of our company, Brother E----, saw in this a good chance to return.  He had not the spirit of the mission, and as he saw plenty of hard fare in prospect he wanted to get honorably released, of course.  Being of the mess to which I belonged, and from the same branch, he wanted me to see the President and get him released on account of poor health.  I called at President Young's wagon (being camped for the night) and told him what Brother E----- wanted.

"Well," said he, "if he has not got the spirit of this mission we might as well let him go back.  But, as Brother Kimball had him called I want you to see him and tell him what I say."

I called at Brother Kimball's wagon and found him at supper in company with Brother Egan.  I told him what Brother E----- wanted and what President Young had said.

"Well," said Brother Kimball, "of course we will release him!"  Then, after a few moments' meditation he said:  "I am sorry; for if he goes on he will live, but if he goes back he will die."

Seeing that I was rather astonished at this remark, he added:  "O, I did not mean that he would die temporally by returning; but," said he, with some emphasis, "he will die spiritually."

After a few years, Brother E----- came on to the Valleys and settled at Provo.  He was appointed Bishop's clerk and clerk of the High Council, and in time married a second wife, and was very much prospered in the land with flocks and herds.

I marveled that Brother Kimball's prophecy about his spiritual death had failed; but after a few years Brother E----- concluded he must go to California to get a "fit out," as it used to be called.  He took both his wives with him, but the second wife returned, and a few years since I heard of Brother E----- being in San Bernardino, keeping a saloon and gambling house.
---Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 17, Feb 15 1882 p.63.


  Ellis and Olive were victims of the Haun's Mill Massacre, which took place in Missouri in 1838.  Both of them and their children survived, and wrote chilling accounts of their ordeal.  After reading their accounts, you will never think of this event in the same way.

To read Ellis' account of the massacre, click here.
Though written nearly sixty years later, Olive's account is more detailed; click here.


  Ellis served as the first mayor of Provo, Utah, and also as clerk to various church and territorial functions.  One of these actions was recently discovered in the LDS Church historical archives, in which the citizens of Provo expressed outrage over the actions of one John Blackburn and his attempt to lay claim to the resources of Rock Canyon.

                Provo City Dec 29-[18]51
President B Young
We wish to address You upon A subject
Which has given rise to some excitement
And we consider of much importance to
The Citizens of Provo
The Citizens of Provo appointed A committy
To explore the mountains and Rock Kanyan
and reported plenty of timber by opening
A Road up Rock Kanyan   President Higbee
nominated A Committy viz Harlow
Redfield David Canfield & T.S. Willis
to superintend the opening of A Road
and see that the Citizens had equal rights
and privileges to said Kanyan
the Citizens were called out by said
Committy opened A road some 2 miles
up said Kanyan at an expence of some
seven hundred dollars   John Blackburn
Swore in A Public congregation that he
would not be controlled by said committy
relative to the timber he then afterwards stated
that he was willing to be controlled by
the people   he called the people togeather
laid his plans of Building A Mill before
them an they objected instead of
complying with the wishes of the people
his next move was to petition Judge
Case for A grant in said Kanyan
unbeknown to the Citizens the People consider
there is mills enough in progress to supply
them with lumber they consider also that
A Mill built in the Kanyan would
cause much Dissattisfaction
We with to make to You a plain statement
of facts relative to the case.  some three
weeks ago Tehu stated You councilled
him to go ahead if this be Your
council after hearing this thing as it does
exist we are willing to abide your council
In every sense of the word we would refer
You to Br Joseph Young and his companions
that visited us for further information.

Yours as EverHarlow Redfielt
David CanfieldCommitty
Joshua T Willis    [written sideways]
  Ellis Eames Clerk

P.S.  This certifies that the course that
said committy has taken has been approved
of by the people and also President Higbee

       <1140 is identical to 1139>

     Provo City Dec 15th 51
To the Honorable committy of Rock Kanyan
We the undersigned feeling ourselves agreed,
at the course taken by John Blackburn
in trampling upon the rights and feelings
of the people humbly petition You to
Bring him before the public to answer
to such charges as may be prifered

A S Haddow        Francis M. Haws
Wm R R Stowell    W W Smith
Wm Young G W Haskell     John Baum
Dominecus Caster    B Carpenter     Isaac Baum
Hiram Hoopes I Worthen       George Baum
Ezra Curtis  David Cook  Saml Pratt
James Smith       G W Clift
Wm Wall       Wm H Hossett
Succus N Scovil       John Hossett
James Stewart     James R Ivie
Benj Stewart      Richard A Ivie
Ezekiel Kellogg       Wm H Ivie
James Nelson      T A Ivie
James Goff        Thos C Ivie
Thos G Wilson     Gelbreth Haws
Seth Dogg     Walter Barney
Henry Zabrisky    Henry Rabel
John Wheeler      D. Holdaway
Thos Wheeler      John Mills
Thos Ross     David Holdaway
T W Smith     Henry Barny
James A Smith     John Haws
James Bean        Franklin Weaver
Joseph Clark      Saml Clark
Rela Clark        John Clark
Ezekiel Pulcipher     A.P. Dowdle


This is to certify that this is
A true copy of the original
Petition             Ellis Eames


President B. Young
G.S.L. City

--LDS Church Historian's Office
Brigham Young Office Files CR 1234 1
Reel 31, Box 22, fd 10 R-S
To learn more about Rock Canyon, click here.


Fri. Oct 1st, 1852.  Semi-Annual Conference of Provo, Stake of Zion held at Provo City, assembled in the log cabin (about 60 feet in length and 50 feet in bredth in the form of a Greek cross) and this was built by the citizens of Provo, within the space of five days, expresly for this conference, but few persons present in consequence of heavy rains.  There fore adjourned until tomorrow at 10 o'clock am. Sat. Oct. 2nd.  Met pursuant to adjournment.  Prayer by Pres. Geo. A. Smith and the log cabin dedicated.  Choir sang a hymn.  Lucius N. Scovil and Ellis Eames chosen clerks of this conference. . . .

--Journal of History, October 3 1852

The Ames Family
by Olive May Ames

  Ellis Eames was an Englishman, was related to Emma Eames, a famous singer.  He was well educated.  He played the violin.  He and Olive Jane sang beautifully together.  Ellis was an actor.  At one time he had a troupe of his own; his leading lady was his daughter, Zelpha Abagail.  Zelpha was his daughter by his first marriage.

  Olive Jane was Ellis' second wife.  They lived in Missouri.  They experienced much persecution because of their religious beliefs.  Ellis was part owner of Haun's Mill at the time of the massacre there--30 October 1838.

  After this tragic episode, the Eames family stayed the winter and in the spring moved from place to place until they finally settled at Nauvoo.  Ellis was an Elder in the church.  In time the family journied to Utah.

  My grandfather could not endure conditions there as he did not believe in polygamy.  Brigham had forced my grandfather to take another wife.  It almost killed my grandmother but Brigham Young would have killed all of them as he was a complete dictator.  My grandfather and grandmother, in some way managed to get away.  They made their way to San Bernardino.  As soon as possible they sent the second wife back to her people in Utah.

  My Aunt Zelpha Abigail was a very accomplished lady, speaking French fluently.  At one time she wrote for the Los Angeles Times newspaper under the name Pauline.

  Eames was our original name but my mother Margaret Angeline Payne Ames did not like the name Eames, and persuaded the family to drop the initial 'E' so we were called "Ames," but our real name is "Eames."

  Ellis kept a store in Riverside, Westminster, and San Bernardino at different times.  He settled in San Bernardino, lived and died there.

  [Olive also wrote that Ellis spent six years in the redwoods, and that he had the first saw mill there, but no other information on that episode is available.]
--This information was provided by Dorothy Van Fleet of Hemet, California.
--Olive was an aunt of Mrs. Van Fleet's husband, Alma Burton Van Fleet. 
She was a daughter of Ansil Merritt and  Margaret Angeline
Payne Ames, who married in 1865.  Olive was born in 1870.


To read a short biography of Sarah Haskell Ames Richardson, click here.


  One of Ellis' children by Sarah was at one time suspected of practicing polygamy, but it was later discovered not to be the case.  An account of this event follows:

The case of  Rudolph Ames of Payson, was before Judge Kane Friday night on habeas corpus.  He was charged with undue intimacy with his sister-in-law, and on the evidence showing this, was held by Commissioner Smoot for unlawful cohabitation.  Judge Kane held that the evidence did not justify the holding, as the woman was not living with Ames, and it was a case of immorality simply, which no law, local or general, would touch.  Shame on the negligent Mormon law-makers.
--Salt Lake Daily Tribune, Sunday May 3 1885



  AMES.---At his residence in San Bernardino county, California, of rheumatism of the heart, Ellis Ames, Sen., an old-time Saint, leaving a wife and large family to mourn his loss.  He was born in the town of Mentor, State of Ohio, on the 19th of January, in the year 1809.  He united with the church in its infancy, was in a great deal of the troubles the Saints passed through, notably among them was the Haun's Mill massacre.  After the death of the prophet he moved to Utah, where he remained for three years, and in 1854, moved to San Bernardino, where he lived until his death, which occurred October 11th, 1882.  Funeral services by Alma Whitlock.

--The [RLDS] Saints' Herald, 1884, p.791.

The pictures of Ellis and Olive were provided by Helen Wallace of Garden Grove, California. 
The picture of Sarah is from L. Dee Stevenson of Payson, Utah.  Click here to see the entire picture.

To read Robert Ames' recollections of San Bernardino, click here.
To learn more about Mormon history in northwest Missouri, click here.
To return to the Richardson Family index page, click here.