Compiled by Heather Walker, 2007
You shall be blessed in the days of your probation notwithstanding your days of afflictions and in days of trial that are yet to come in your House.
–Patriarchal Blessing given to Henson Walker Jr. by Hyrum Smith, 1844
HENSON’S CONVERSION AND YEARS IN NAUVOO
Henson Walker Jr. was born in Manchester, Ontario County, New York on March 13, 1820 to Henson and Matilda Walker. He was raised in the Methodist faith, but was unsatisfied with his religion. In 1840, Henson eagerly read The Book of Mormon and was baptized in 1840.
His family did not follow him into his new religion. On August 24, 1841 he married Martha Ann Bouck, another convert to the church.
Martha’s family was also members of the church, so Henson and the Boucks moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Henson met and associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith. Henson worked to build up the church in Nauvoo.
In the spring of 1843, Henson’s first son, John, was born. Martha caught a fever and on August 12, 1843, she passed away. Henson moved into the Bouck home with his son.
On June 27, 1844 the Joseph Smith and his brother were martyred. Brigham Young became the next president of the church.
In 1846, Henson courted Elizabeth Foutz, and on April 10, 1846, they were sealed for time and eternity in the Nauvoo Temple.
Shortly after the marriage, Henson’s son, John, three years old, accidently drowned.
The saints were driven out of Nauvoo. In 1847, Henson was among the first company to start heading west to find a new settlement for the saints. He was recovering from a severe fever and left his wife, Elizabeth, extremely ill. Elizabeth stayed with the Bouck family and Henson knew that she was in good hands.
SALT LAKE VALLEY, 1847
On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young declared that the Salt Lake Valley was the new gathering place for the saints. After scouting the valley, Henson returned to the Sweetwater with other men to meet his family.
He left Elizabeth, his wife of only one year, sick with fever. He did not know how she had fared. He had already lost a wife and a son, so he must have been very anxious. When he arrived at the Sweetwater, he ran from one wagon to another desperately trying his wife or information about her. Finally, he came to the camp of Father Bouck and there he found his wife, alive and in much better health. She had been accompanied by her parents and the Boucks, having left in so bad of health that her family felt she would not survive.
A temple site was chosen, the people gave thanks, and they began to make valley a place suitable for habitation by farming and building houses.
Henson Walker first began farming in the area of Fort Douglas, where the University of Utah now is. In February 1849, Henson was among a group of men, led by Captain John Scott, who went down into Utah Valley to confront some Indians who had stolen cattle. A short battle ensued, and so the canyon where this was fought was named Battle Creek Canyon.
Henson also was involved in larger skirmishes in the Provo area, and had a part in preparing Utah Valley as a place to settle by driving off Indian fighters.
In one fight, Henson and his group has closed upon the Indians until they were almost in hand-to-hand combat. Henson was standing behind a large tree, and his foe was also behind a large tree. They kept firing at each other, and eventually the Indian stopped firing, though the only thing Henson would admit was that, “the Injun didn’t show up again.”
In 1850, Henson was called to build a ferry at the Platte River.
Battle Creek, the first name for Pleasant Grove, was first settled in 1850 by William Adams, Philo T. Farnsworth, and John Mercer. The name was soon changed to Pleasant Grove.
After returning from working on the ferry, Henson wanted to make a permanent home. In the spring of 1852 he moved to Pleasant Grove with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, Henson III, born in 1848, and Victoreen Elizabeth, born in 1850, along with Elizabeth’s mother, Margaret Mann Foutz, and her family.
In the beginning days of Pleasant Grove, there were two heads. George S. Clark looked after the temporal affairs and Henson Walker was called to look after the spiritual affairs. In 1853, George S. Clark went to Iron County and Henson Walker became the sole head of the ward.
Henson helped build the first school and church in Pleasant Grove in 1852. During the Walker Indian War, a fort was built in Pleasant Grove.
Henson married Sophronia Phylinda Clark on June 7, 1852, Mary Green on July 3, 1856, and Margaret Foutz on November 9, 1857. They all lived in Pleasant Grove.
In January of 1855, Pleasant Grove officially became an incorporated city. An election was held that May in which Henson Walker was elected Mayor. He served as Mayor until 1863, when he was called on a mission to Great Britain. After his mission, he served as Alderman and Councilman.
In addition to his mission to Great Britain, from 1863 to 1865, Henson served two missions to the Northern States.
Henson later served as a stake president of the Utah and Alpine Stakes. He died in 1904 on January 24.
(Information for above is from “Biography of Henson Walker Jr.” by Jennie Walker Johnson, found in the Henson Walker Family Record, edited by Floyd A. Walker, first printed by Transcript-Bulletin Publishing Company, Inc., Tooele City, Utah, 1958-1963. The record was later converted into PDF format. The quotes below are found from the same record, page numbers are indicated after the quote.)
Joseph Stanford Walker said, “To me Grandfather was a patriarch–he was always impressive. He was a tall man and broad shouldered too. Until he died when I was a boy of sixteen, even as an old man in his eighties, Grandfather didn’t lose his dignity, he was always an important person” (8).
Harold S. Walker spoke of him, “Until I was ten when Grandfather left us, I remember him always sitting on the stand – his flowing white beard and his cane. He was interested in what went on and his mouth sometimes was partly open.
“He was kind to us kids. He had a kindly way with people. He had sympathy and understanding for the down trodden and so called sinners. He was always friendly with the Indians and fed them many times.
“In whatever he did, he was enthusiastic. He had a good sense of humor. He was not gruff but he was definite and he made himself heard. When he was speaking in the bowery, he could be heard on Locust Avenue” (8).
Joseph Shipley Walker remarked, “I lived all my younger life with my family in part of the same home with Grandfather Henson and Grandmother Elizabeth. I was about sixteen when he passed away.
“I remember that to Grandfather, Church meant everything. His home was always open to the General Authorities of the Church. Their coming was never announced as is done in our day. Whenever they came to Pleasant Grove, or were going on to Provo or any of the other towns south, Henson’s home was the stopover place to eat and sleep. I have seen as many as twelve at a time. It was not uncommon for Grandmother to seat twenty persons at the table–visitors and family.
“Yes, Grandfather fed the Indians. The chiefs at the table and the others and the squaws the porch or the ground. They came to him and always received help” (8).
David B. Thorne said, “I remember Grandfather Henson as always being able to make himself heard when he was speaking in public. He never would have needed to use a microphone as we do today” (8).
Leonard S. Walker stated, “I was quite young but I remember Grandfather until I was eight years old when he died. He was a great admirer of fine horses. One time he came out to our place in Lindon bringing some of the Michigan relatives to see us. They were all interested to see our horses, too.
“My father, John Y. Walker, told us that when he was a boy it was his job to take care of the horses of the General Authorities when they came to Grandfather’ s home. Brigham Young then drove a team of beautiful black horses which were high steppers. More than once father managed to drive the blacks around an extra block in the process of getting them to the stables” (8).
Grace Walker Fielding wrote, “Two thoughts keep going through my mind regarding Great Grandfather Henson. One from Jeremiah 3:14: “And I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” The other, Matt. 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Because he gave up family and friends for his religion, that is the way he would want his ‘fruits’ to be known–True to the Faith” (8).
Dahlia Radmall Walker said, “My first recollection of Grandpa Henson Walker was at Sacrament Meeting s and Fourth and Twenty-Fourth of July celebrations. He was always seated on the stand in the Meeting-house or in the Bowery in the grove near the Meeting-house.
“He usually sat with his hands on the head of his cane—the Cane between his knees. His head covered with snowy hair, was thrown back and his mouth partly open. His black eyes were still piercing with a faint sparkle still there. A small cape was usually thrown over his shoulders.
“He was a frequent speaker on those occasions. He spoke fluently with somewhat the tone of the preachers he had heard in his youth and early manhood. One of his enthusiastic points was his belief and praise of the young people. A favorite expression was, ‘It gives me joy and satisfaction,’ and, I’m sure that went for any worthwhile thing he attempted in life.
“These excerpts following I remember from Mother Walker: He spoke feelingly of his wives and children, they met together often and Grandpa was his happiest on those occasions. He was truly a family man.
“He loved horses. He used to drive a horse called ‘Chirp’ on a cart when he came to Stringtown (now Lindon) to visit his sons and families. Chirp was a real stepper and Grandpa really enjoyed the taut reins and the brisk ride. Grandma seldom accompanied him, said, ‘I am not fond of Grandpa’s cart rides – there is nothing in a cart to hang on to and besides, Grandpa has no business driving a stepper like Chirp.’
“A young doctor, Haney M. Vance of Bement, Illinois, came west to practice and made Pleasant Grove his permanent home. He was proud to tell Grandpa Walker he was his first patient and what a fine old gent he was.
“We are justly proud of our Grandfather for the wonderful heritage he has left us. We honor and revere his memory; we wish we could have known him better” (9).
“It has been a great opportunity for Esther and I to edit, compile, and arrange the material for the Family Record of Henson Walker Jr. There has emerged from between the lines of the mass of genealogical data, histories and pictures some clear convictions as to the caliber of man our Great Grandfather Henson really was. Indeed, he was a tall man from where we stand and his shadow has lengthened considerably to us in the past several years as we have come to know more about him and we pay our humble tribute to his memory.
“There must have existed within Henson more than the youthful urge for adventure to cause him to leave behind his beloved parents, brothers and sisters and accept the new unpopular religion called ‘Mormonism.’ He had barely settled in Nauvoo with his new family when his wife, Martha Ann Bouck passed away. As if that was not enough to make his separation from his family complete, very soon thereafter his only child, John, was drowned.
“Henson, however, did not stand alone for long, far from it. He was living with Martha’s parents at the time and before too long he had met Elizabeth Foutz and soon after they were married. Even though it soon became apparent that Elizabeth was not very well, through the love and companionship of the Bouck’s and the Foutz’s, Henson had help and family. He had daily association with the Saints and even the Prophet Joseph Smith, himself.
“We have come to know Henson, to know him well. First of all, he held me on his knees as a babe. I’ve grown up as one of his posterity and lived among hundreds of his descendants. I’ve been in the homes of many of his relatives in Michigan and some of their descendants have visited us here in the west. Never can we forget their warmth, love and genuine goodness.
“We feel that there exists now a common bond, a kindred spirit between us – ancestors and descendants alike. As did the Pilgrim Fathers find another land and a new freedom, so did Henson with those early Pioneers bare-handed1y wrest from the wilderness a home and a new concept of religious liberty for himself, his family and descendants. We have really come to know him as we have embraced whole heartedly those hard earned freedoms and lofty ideals. He recognized in Mormonism the kingdom of God which was to be set up in the last days, quote: ‘And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever’ (Daniel 2:44). Indeed, that kingdom has been set up–strange as it may seem. It is the restored Gospel as proclaimed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with Jesus Christ at its head. Henson found that kingdom in so-called ‘Mormonism.’
“It seems that Henson was of a religious nature as he often preached in the Methodist services in his early life. That is significant when we consider the words of the Savior, ‘I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.’ Also, ‘and when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice.’ (John 10:14 & 4) To Latter Day Saints there is sufficient scripture and latter day revelation to prove there was a pre-existence. Mankind existed with God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Prophets before coining here into mortality. This means that we had opportunity to prepare for earth life there in the spirit world before we came here, to have our free agency and to learn right from wrong, to get a mortal body, and to engage in family life and thus become candidates for the Celestial Kingdom of God. We firmly believe that Henson was well prepared when he came here and that he knew the voice of the good shepherd early in life. Consequently he embraced the Gospel and became a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ.
“Without question the greatest contribution which Henson gave to his people was to bequeath unto them the way that they might find out for themselves the truth. They did not have to take his word for it. There is only one way under heaven how this can be done. It cannot be discovered, analyzed nor dissected scientifically for a group or for a whole society. It has to be done individually and in the way the Prophets of God have instructed. Essentially, that was and is to honestly, humbly, prayerfully seek to know the truth from God Himself. Say the scriptures, ‘Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall opened unto you.’ (Matt. 7:7) Seek to ‘know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ (John 8:32) Also, James wrote, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.’ (James 1:5-6) Literally seeking to know the mind and will of God, one soon discovers that there is a priceless key as a guide to find the truth. That is to enjoy the promptings of the Holy Ghost as written of by the Prophet Moroni in the Book of Mormon, ‘Behold I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things… I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Father, in the Eternal name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.’ (Moroni 10:3-5)
“In this manner Henson gained a burning testimony of Jesus the Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of mankind, the only Begotten of the Father. Jesus of a truth is a revelation of His Father. By coming to know Christ, we can come to truly know God. Knowing these things, Henson had a sincere desire to please Him, to keep His commandments, and to teach those truths to his loved ones and to all people.
“Henson has a large and wonderful posterity which is indeed his greatest monument. And the way of life which he helped to pioneer, even the Gospel of Jesus Christ, can bless, save and exalt his posterity and ancestors forever. In humility -we say he was and is a savior of his people. This is the reason why he had the courage to forsake all for the kingdom of God. To leave father, mother and family; and to help build up His kingdom wherever the Saints were assembled.
Yes, we know Henson and the knowing is good. We sincerely want our beloved people everywhere to know Henson as we have come to know him. Henson truly was a man of great stature; he literally walked, talked and lived with some of the Prophets of the living God.”
–Floyd and Esther Walker. (9-10)
“HENSON WALKER – HUNTER (PIONEER – MISSIONARY – LEADER)
“Henson Walker (Jr.) was a hunter and fisherman of wide experience. He grew up with his 7 brothers and 4 sisters on his father’s farm in Manchester, Ont. N.Y…. born Mar.13, 1820 to Matilda Arnell and Henson Walker (Sr.)…. In the spring of 1847, although just recovering from…fever (he) was called by Church Authorities to be one of the immortal band of pioneers. Along the route Henson’s skill in hunting and fishing proved invaluable. He stated years later that Wilford Woodruff was also an enthusiastic, fisherman and whenever camp was made near a stream, he too would leave the camp with a fishing pole over his shoulder, and nearly always returned with a sizeable string of fish . . . In 1863 he was called to carry the Gospel to the nations of the earth and while in Great Britain was president of the Scottish Mission. After his return to Utah he was again called to fill two missions to the Northern States. During his later years he served as (first) president of the High Priests of (Utah &) Alpine Stake (5). (He was first Mayor and Spiritual Leader (1) of Pleasant Grove).”—Extracts “Daughters of Utah Pioneers” Lesson May 1959 -.-.-Kate B. Carter. (10)