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Nathan Cram Tenney

Thomas Tenney arrived in Rowley, MA in 1638

Nathan Cram TenneyThis profile is completely documented and provided by permission from Craig Payne's website:  http://www.geocities.com:0080/Heartland/Meadows/8918/ Special thanks to Craig for allowing the Tenney Family Association to include this profile.


Born: July 28, 1817 at Ontario, Wayne County, New York.

His parents were: Meshach Tenney and Phebe Cram.

He married: Olive Strong March 18, 1841 in Illinois. Her parents were Ezra Strong and Olive Lowell.

Their children:
    (1) George Alma b: 6/21/1842
    (2) Ammon Meshach b: 11/16/1844 married: Anna Sariah Eager
    (3) Nathan Cram b: 4/4/1846
    (4) Olive Eliza b: 4/27/1849 married: Joseph Smith McFate
    (5) Nancy Ann b: 11/17/1851
    (6) Phoebe Relief b: 1853 married: Mary Edna Norfleet
    (7) Abby Celestia b: 11/17/1856
    (8) John Lowell b: 7/29/1877 married: Mary Ann Oakley
    (9) Samuel Benjamin b: 3/5/1858 married: Lora Isabelle Brown
    (10) Marvelous Flood b: 1/18/1862

Other wives of Nathan Cram Tenney: Grace Tibbits Jose 3/18/1859 and Nancy Beaufort Morris.

    Nathan joined the church in Illinois as best as I can figure in his time line. He was baptized in Nauvoo, Illinois on February 3, 1846 and his first son was born in 1840 in Berreman, Joe Davies, Illinois and I don't know that this was an L. D. S. community. He also took out his endowments in the Nauvoo Temple with his wife February 3, 1846, but they weren't sealed until August 5, 1858 in Salt Lake City in the Endowment House. His son Ammon was born November 16, 1844 at Rand, Lee County, Iowa, and I am fairly certain this was where they came in contact with the church. One son, Nathan Cram, born April 4, 1846, was born at Winter Quarters in Nebraska, I read in one book that he came to Utah in 1848. One very odd problem is I am still struggling to find them on any Pioneer Company lists. Nathan and his family were in the Salt Lake valley when his first daughter was born on April 27, 1849 near Big Cottonwood Canyon.

    It was around 1849-50 that President Brigham Young called Nathan to go to California to the fort at San Bernardino to be an interpreter for the Saints there and serve as the Bishop there. He were in California by 1851 as his second daughter, Nancy Alice, was born at San Bernardino on November 17, 1851. While there, Nathan's wife Olive Strong taught school for the Saints and the Mexican's living there at the time.

    They lived in what was at first part of the San Gabriel Mission that was constructed around 1830 on the San Bernardino Rancho. In the 1840's these building's were granted to Jose del Carmen Lugo and his brothers by the government of Mexico. The building now called the Asistencia (which has been rebuilt and is part of the San Bernardino County Museum system) was the home of Jose del Carmen Lugo.

    Around 1849 these buildings were sold to the 'Mormons' and the Asistencia became the home of Bishop Nathan Cram Tenney. It was said it made it convenient for him to supervise colony agriculture in that part of the valley.

San Bernardino Asistencia
    The Asistencia is now a California State Historic Landmark. It is # 42 in there Landmark system. The address of the Asistencia is: 26930 Barton Road, East of Nevada Street, Redlands.     In 1851, a fort was erected around the existing building by the Saints. It is now called the Fort San Bernardino. There were many residents and buildings that made up the fort. Nathan Tenney's had Plat # 71 for a time. Other residents or plat owners were: Charles C. Rich (Apostle) and Amasa Lyman. There were some stores, a restaurant, school, blacksmith shop, Meeting House, Tithing Office & Store, and wagon shop. The fort consisted of nearly 100 plats. The Tenney plat was on the West side of the fort about 3 plats from the North corner.
    Nathan and his family were back in Southern Utah by 1858, because he had a son, Samuel Benjamin, on July 29, 1858 in Cedar City, Iron County, Utah. His last child was born in 1862 in Grafton, Washington County, Utah. Grafton was established in 1859 by Nathan Cram Tenney and others from Virgin, Utah. It was first called Wheeler then the name was changed to Grafton. (Grafton, Mass. is by where the Tenney family lived when they came to America in the late 1600's. The Tenney name is still found in Mass. and there are even pictures of the old Tenney home in the area.) Grafton had a problem with recurring serious flooding. The last of Nathan's children was a son born during a horrible flood, and his mother named him Marvelous Flood Tenney on account of his being born during the flood. Many still chuckle at this story. Because of the flooding problem, Grafton became a ghost town in 1921. Vandalism has destroyed most of the abandoned structures.

    Grafton is two miles West of Rockville, Utah and 1/4 mile south of the Virgin River. (Rockville is a small community on state road U-9, four miles southwest of Springdale, Utah.)



    In about 1865, Nathan Cram had an experience with Indians that was told to James H. McClintock for a book titled "Mormon Settlement in Arizona" by Nathan's son Ammon Meshach Tenney who was also present.
    Pages 70-71: "Ammon M. Tenney in Phoenix lately told the Author that the Navajo were the only Indians who ever really fought the Mormons and the only tribe against which the Mormons were compelled to depart from their rule against shedding of blood. It is not intended in this work to go into history of the many encounters between the Utah Mormons and the Arizona Navajo, but there should be inclusion of a story told by Tenney of an experience in 1865 at a point eighteen miles west of Pipe Springs and six miles southwest of Canaan, Utah. There were three Americans from Toquerville, the elder Tenney (Nathan Cram), the narrator (Ammon M.), and Enoch Dodge, the last known as one of the bravest of southern Utah pioneers. The three were surrounded by sixteen Navajos, and, with their backs to the wall, fought for an hour or more, finally abandoning their thirteen horses and running for better shelter. Dodge was shot through the knee cap, a wound that incapacitated him from the fight thereafter. The elder Tenney fell and broke his shoulder blade and was stunned, though he was not shot. This left the fight upon the younger Tenney, who managed to climb a twelve-foot rocky escarpment. He reached down with his rifle and dragged up his father and Dodge. The three opportunely found a little cave in which they secreted themselves until reasonably rested, hearing the Indians searching for them on the plateau above. Then, in the darkness, they made their way fifteen miles into Duncan's Retreat on the Virgin River in Utah. 'There is one thing I will say for the Navajo,' Tenney declared with fervor. 'He is a sure-enough fighting man. The sixteen of them stood shoulder to shoulder, not taking cover, as almost any other southwestern Indian would have done.'

And another account out of the same book:
    Pages 180-181: "Wild Celebration of St. John's Day -- There was a wild time in St. John's on the day of the Mexican population's patron saint, San Juan, June 24, 1882, when Nat Greer and a band of Texas cowboys entered the Mexican town. The Greers had been unpopular with the Mexicans since they had marked a Mexican with an ear 'underslope,' as cattle are marked, this after a charge that their victim had been found in the act of stealing a Greer colt. The fight that followed the Greer entry had nothing at its initiation to do with the Mormon settlers. Assaulted by the Mexican police and populace, eight of the band rode away and four were penned into an uncompleted adobe house. Jim Vaughn of the raiders was killed and a Harris Greer was wounded. On the attacking side was wounded Francisco Tafolla, whose son in later years was killed while serving in the Arizona Rangers. It was declared that several thousand shots had been fired, but there was a lull, in which the part of peacemaker was taken up by 'Father' Nathan C. Tenney, a pioneer of Woodruff and father of Ammon M. Tenney. He walked to the house and induced the Greers to surrender. The Sheriff, E. S. Stover, was summoned and was in the act of taking the men to jail when a shot was fired from a loft of the Barth house, where a number of Mexicans had established themselves. The bullet, possibly intended for a Greer, passed through the patriarch's head and neck killing him instantly. The Greers were threatened by lynching, but were saved by the sheriff's determination. Their case was taken to Prescott and they escaped with light punishment.
        In the fall of 1881 the community knew a summary execution of two men and there were other deeds of disorder, but in no wise did they affect the Mormon people, save that the lawless actions unsettled the usual peaceful conditions."

Nathan Cram Tenney and his wife were both buried in the St. Johns, Arizona Cemetery.







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