In the Old Mormon Pioneer Cemetery on Parley Street, east of Nauvoo, Illinois, there stands a small triangular stone, its aged condition obvious, its inscription, “E WELLINGTON” is barely readable. Unless directed to it and specifically instructed regarding it, one would pass it by without a glance.
Who is E WELLINGTON? E. Wellington is the mother of the orphaned, Elizabeth, who married Alexander Hale Smith, affectionately known as “Lizzie”. She is the ancestress of hundreds of descendants of Joseph and Emma Smith. The full story of this woman comes to light after many years revealing a most interesting set of circumstances—and a peculiar connection to the family of Joseph smith Jr., founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Emma Hale Smith.
E WELLINGTON, aka Elizabeth Millikin Kendall Wellington, and her first husband, John Kendall, were converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England. At the time of their conversion the couple had two children, John and Isabella. The couple had made plans to migrate to America as soon as they could save enough money. Their plans were disrupted when John Kendall, who was a painter, fell from a scaffold while attempting to save the others who were working with him. He and was fatally injured and died in the hospital in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, 5 October 1842.[i] A touching tribute regarding the death of Brother John Kendall , who was an Elder in the priesthood, was published in the Millennial Star in November 1842.[ii]
Kendall’s widow, Elizabeth gave birth to their third child, Elizabeth Agnes Kendall, 7 May 1843, eight months later, in Ulverstone, Lancaster, England.[iii] When the baby was a few months old, the widow, Elizabeth, took her three children and boarded the ship, Ketoka, heading for America, with a large number of Latter-day Saint converts. Elder John Ballantyne, a convert in 1842, from Scotland, was said to be in charge of the Saints on this journey. Among the names on the ship list are “Elizabeth Kendall, 28, John, 7, Isabella 3, and Elizabeth, infant.” Their belongs were listed as “Boxes of Clothing, Utensils”. The Ketoka set sail from Albert Docks, Liverpool, England, on 5 September, 1843, arriving in New Orleans on 27 October 1843.[iv]
The Kendall family made their way up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. Tradition in the family indicates she stopped at St. Louis for a time then continued on to Nauvoo. The exact date of their arrival in Nauvoo is unknown. Some have suggested they arrived there in February 1842,[v] which is impossible, due to the facts previously reported herein. Clear documentation, found in recent times, shows that the infant daughter, Elizabeth, listed in the ship list, was born in May 1843, arriving in America, in October of that year. Therefore, the Kendalls were in Nauvoo no earlier than the late Fall of 1843 or more possibly in January or February 1844. According to one family tradition, “Elizabeth and her family were first housed in what was called the Mansion House. It was the Joseph Smith family home which had an addition of guest rooms . . . A widow’s section of the town was being built, and shortly she and her children moved to one of these quarters.”[vi]
Vida E. Smith, a great granddaughter of Elizabeth Kendall, wrote a romantic story of this family which states that the Kendalls boarded for a time at the Mansion House and was befriended by Emma, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. She and her children finally found lodging in a small apartment in Brick Row, or Widow’s Row, once located at the corner of Main and Kimball streets in Nauvoo. Her room reportedly was the “third room from the east end.” [vii]
Widow Kendall found work, (the nature of her work has not been identified); her work forced her to leave her three children alone all day while she was away. The older two were able to tend their little sister. There were others who were friendly neighbors who helped out as well, though unnamed.
That Elizabeth Kendall was a faithful member of the Church is evidenced by the Nauvoo Temple Records which state she received her endowment in the Nauvoo Temple, on 31 January 1846. However, when the majority of the Church members made their exodus to the west, Elizabeth and her little family remained in Illinois. According to Vida E. Smith, she endured deprivations at the hands of mobbers, so it became necessary for her to flee from the city. In September 1846, when Emma Smith took her family upriver to Fulton, Illinois, Elizabeth Kendall took her children away as well. We do not know whether they left at the same time, on the same boat, or if Elizabeth traveled in some other manner to some other place.
A few months later, when it was safe, the Kendalls returned. Back in Nauvoo, Elizabeth was befriended by Matthias Wellington, whose family was engaged in farming and raising cattle in the vicinity of Nauvoo. Elizabeth Kendall and Matthias Wellington were married in Hancock County, Illinois, 25 February 1847.[viii] Her friend, Emma Smith also married in December that year and the friendship of these two women continued.[ix]
Elizabeth bore Matthias Wellington two children: Lydia Ann Wellington, born in 1847, and Thomas Wellington born in 1849. Sadly, Elizabeth Wellington died, perhaps in childbirth, 30 September 1850.[x] Her death resulted in her now orphaned daughter, Elizabeth Agnes, nicknamed Lizzie, about 7 years of age, being left with her step father. Fairly soon, Matthias Wellington remarried; when his young wife became pregnant, she felt unable, or unwilling to continue looking after little Elizabeth Kendall, (Lizzie), along with Elizabeth and Matthias’ other two children. The older Kendall children, John and Isabella, had already found other places where they were working for their own board; it became necessary for Lizzie to find a new situation. Undoubtedly, remembering Emma’s kindness to her mother, and to children, Lizzie found her way to the Mansion House, and Emma.
Elizabeth Agnes, was taken into Emma Smith Bidamon’s house, more than likely in about 1851 or 1852,[xi]undoubtedly with the expectation that she would be helpful, since Emma had just taken on the full time care of her mother-in-law, Lucy Mack Smith.[xii] In the 1860 Census of Hancock County, Elizabeth Kendall, is listed as age 17, living in the Bidamon household. According to the family stories, Emma treated Lizzie as her own daughter; and in a few years she became a daughter-in-law, when on 23 May 1861, she married Emma’s son, Alexander Hale Smith.
Knowledge of Lizzie’s widowed mother was obscured by time. Subsequent generations knew little of her beyond her maiden and married name, Kendall; and as it turns out, from further research, we had an incorrect birth date and place for both the mother and daughter.
Gradually the full story has been pieced together from a few clues. In 1999, we discovered a picture of Vida E. Smith, daughter of Alexander and Elizabeth Agnes Kendall Smith, standing by a triangular stone. The picture was labeled, “Me, [Vida E. Smith] beside Grandmother Wellington’s grave”. This was the first hint that Elizabeth Agnes’ mother had married someone named Wellington. A few years later, in the Community of Christ Archives, in Independence, Missouri, some letters, written by Mary Audentia Smith Anderson to a man named Paul A. Wellington[xiii] surfaced. She wrote asking, “Is it possible we are related?” Further research disclosed the fact that this Paul Wellington was a descendant of Elizabeth Kendall and Matthias Wellington. Upon finding this information, I inquired of Ron Romig, then Archivist at the Community of Christ Library, who informed me that Paul A. Wellington was still alive, in his nineties, living in Independence. I obtained his phone number and contacted him that very day. That evening he and his wife came bringing the Wellington Family History which he had compiled.[xiv] This Historical account contained the answer to the mystery of whose grave is marked by the mysterious old triangular stone. The
Wellingtons gave us a picture of members of their family standing beside their “Grandmother Wellington’s grave”. She is the ancestor to many hundreds from that family, as well.
To this day, visitors to the Old Nauvoo Cemetery may discover this triangular stone and wonder “Who is E. Wellington?” We are happy to be able to disclose that she was a quiet, humble, English woman who was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ in England, who, with great courage, immigrated to America after she was widowed. She was one who remained in Nauvoo rather than going west with the Mormon Exodus. Because she died young, her story had to be pieced together from sparse records found in the Nauvoo Lands and Records Office (Church of Jesus Christ), English birth and death records, and many disjoined and contradictory family stories. Until a chance discovery revealed the Wellington connection, we hunted for her in vain.
Little Lizzie lost her mother before she was old enough to fully understand her own history. Emma took her in and taught her the necessary womanly skills of her day; but she gave her so much more. She gave her a mother’s devotion. When Emma died Lizzie wept, telling her children, “She was the only mother I ever knew.” But she also told her children what she knew of the spunky little woman, her own mother, who had followed through on the plans made with her husband to go to America; and the bits and pieces she shared were enough to open the way for us to find the rest of her story.
“In his grave they have laid him, he slumbers in peace.
While his spirit in paradise sweetly shall rest.
till the hour when the angel shall sound his release,
In the first resurrection with Christ to be blest,
O! Weep not, dear sister, more blessed is he,
Thy partner in life, tho’ he lie with the dead;
And the bond of affection that bound him to thee,
Is not severed because that his spirit has fled.
Yet a short time shall pass, when, lo! Gathered in one,
All the saints of the Lord doth in heav’n and earth,
With thee and thy young ones, and partner that’s gone,
May rejoice in the hour of a glorious birth.
O! Then let us be glad in the light that has come,
Even the gospel’s bright fullness, its Priesthood of Power;
While we look for a city a glorious home,
and to meet all the sanctified dead in that home,
Then O Father above, let thy blessing descend,
Let thy spirit its sweet consolation impart
To the widow, the Mother, the sister and friend,
Let the joys of salvation enliven her heart,
Let her vision be clear of that glorious day,
when the son shall descend with His angels of Light,
When sorrow and pain, and all tears pass away,
And truth stands revealed in heaven’s own light.”