Isom Home in Mountain Dell
Owen Isom was born on May 2, 1814 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. He was the son of
William and Elizabeth Austin Isom. He married Elizabeth Howard on March 11, 1835. They had 9
children – 7 boys and 2 girls. Eight of their children were born in England. The youngest son, Franklin
was born in New York. Their son George wrote in his journal: “They had a very stable marriage and
both demonstrated very strong leadership qualities. They served in a variety of Church positions.
Eventually Owen was called to serve as the District President (comparable to a Stake President today)
over one of the largest districts at that time, the Birmingham District. He directed programs of the
rapidly growing, young Church, helped over see the missionary work and played a major role in the
encouragement and financing of the publication of the Book of Mormon in Great Britain, The Millennial
Star and the emigration of the Saints to Utah. President and Sister Isom were loved by all the Saints in
the English Midlands.”
They enjoyed many choice and special experiences and friendships as they served their fellow
Englishmen. However, since they were local leaders of the Church, they were also the main target of
ridicule and slander by its enemies.
They suffered severe social and verbal persecution in the press and in rumored lies spread abroad about
them by the wagging tongues of English devils. They were also physically persecuted and often had
rotten eggs and soured fruits and vegetables thrown at them while traveling to and from Church meetings.
Then, as now, the
Isoms were bold, mature, independent souls, and all the forces of hell combined, could
not lesson their enthusiasm for the eternal principles they espoused.
After playing major roles in the Church for 11 years, the Brethren finally allowed Owen and Elizabeth
and their family to emigrate to America. This made Elizabeth particularly happy since several of her
father’s family who had joined the Church, had already emigrated and had sent back very encouraging
letters about the beauty, seclusion, and advantage of life on the tops of the Rocky Mountains.
Owen, now 46 years old and Elizabeth had accumulated a reasonable amount of wealth. They had the
funds to make the trip to New York. They had the faith that Heavenly Father would then provide for
them to earn enough to make the trek across the plains.
Owen and Elizabeth Isom and family left from Liverpool, England, by ship. The ship’s name was
WILLIAM TAPCOTT. Captain Bell was their captain, a gentleman who proved very kind. This
departure was May 8, 1860. All got rather sea sick except for Owen. He did the cooking the best he
could for those who couldn’t handle food.
Owen and Elizabeth’s son George wrote in a journal:
“We, Latter-day Saints, did not forget our God amidst the excitement and curiosities of an ocean voyage;
but our hearts and voices were turned to Him in prayer and praise and we were blessed and prospered
upon the seas. We escaped all dangers and although many in number I do not remember more than two
or three being rolled up in canvas and slid off a plank into the watery grave.”
When they finally reached Long Island, they were not permitted to go ashore on account of two or three
Danish people were sick with the Small Pox. Finally, the sick were removed to Blackwell or Mare Island
situated between New York and Brooklyn in the East River area – the rest were permitted to go ashore.
They disembarked by means of a tow boat and landed at Castle Gardens, a place prepared for the
reception of emigrants. Most brethren continued their journey’ by rail. Owen and Elizabeth and their
family, with 30 or 40 others whose destination was New York or there abouts – were trying to find
Owen, son Samuel and son George found employment in a grocery store, later finding better employment
about 5 to 6 miles up the river (East River), they soon moved to Astoria. Owen had a good job in a dairy
milking cows. In that next spring 1862, son William and his wife Mary (who had stayed in England)
joined them in good health and spirits. William had married Catherine Wolfe of Chessire, England.
In May of 1862, Owen and Elizabeth and family left New York by rail to Chicago, Illinois, by way of the
Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The Mormons were not too well liked on this rail.
In Nebraska they took up oxen, wagon, and supplies.
With colder nights and mornings now, they realized winter was very soon upon them. A slight cover of
snow was on the ground as they passed the South Pass. At the Weber River, they met their older brother
William, where they had lost an oxen passing through Parley’s Canyon, but falling back from the main
train of wagons, they spotted their oxen and caught him. They did not catch up with the main train until
they reached camp in Salt Lake City. They supposed this was their destination, but a home was what
they wanted and it was easier for poor people to make one from the elements in a new country where
land could be had for fencing, then to purchase they decided to continue south. They stayed in Salt Lake
City for just 10 days then Owen and the family, plus William and his bride Catherine, pressed on to
Southern Utah or Dixie. In company with the Isoms were George Thurston and family (Mary’s
husband’s family). Elizabeth Is0m stayed in Bountiful, Utah with two of her brothers, Tom and Sam
Howard, because her baby Franklin Howard had become ill while crossing the plains. After losing one
child already because of hardships, she wanted to stay in the Salt Lake Valley until her baby was fully
recovered. The trip south seemed more wearisome than crossing the plains because in addition to being
on foot, they drove 13 head of cows and young stock for G. W. Thurston. They camped at Ash Creek,
Kane County, while William went on to view St. George and the country first. At this time, William met
a man he had traveled with across the plains and he gave such an account of the Rio Virgin Country that
they all decided to move to the Virgin City area to locate. This was in December, 1862, just a few days
before Christmas. Their first house was a rock wall and floored dugout using cottonwood logs for gables
and roof timbers, covering with a sort of thatch of cotton brush laid from ridge to eaves upon the cross
Then upon the brush they laid a covering of pressed cane or sorghum. and then finished off with a coat of
earth. This took up to the first 3 weeks. Next they fanned 6 acres of public lands situated on the North
Creek (this later became known as Mountain Dell). Here they had to grub and fence and dig a ditch to
carry the water and work for their living fanning. It was rather hard times being not accustomed to this
land and country. They were able to raise a crop of cotton and com equal to any raised by their
They were also requested to be rebaptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
by the authorities that new arrivals should commence a new in the Gospel of Christ. In the spring of
1864, Elizabeth and the rest of the family came to join them in Virgin City, which they were very happy
because the men folk already there had very much worn their clothing out and were in bad need of help
in this department and cooking. This took a lot of work and was a slow process on which father Owen
would get much discouraged but through the love and support and understanding of his family, they
made it through and made a good start in America. Shortly after Elizabeth and the rest of the family
came to their Dixie home, (as they called it), from Salt Lake City, the Isom family moved to North Creek
and called the area their ”Mountain Dell”.
In the spring of 1867, Owen and Elizabeth enjoyed an experience which they considered to be one of the
major highlights of their life and one of their most tender moments as a couple. They and their children
were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Endowment House. Most of Elizabeth’s (Howard)
family and many of their close and dear friends from England witnessed this special moment, including
most of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Many of the early General
Apostles had served missions in England, without purse or script. and had become intimate friends with
“President and Sister Isom.” Later in their lives, that glorious day was often recounted, in special
moments, with their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
George wrote: “They built a beautiful rock and adobe home with a cellar underneath. Owen put rock
around their ~ acre homestead and had a large archway over the front gate covered with honeysuckle
vines. Elizabeth had a large vegetable garden in the back yard and a flower garden in the front yard. An
irrigation ditch was dug from North Creek to very near their house, so they had :fresh, clear water anytime
day or night.”
Their granddaughter, Verna Isom Gifford, says: “The beauty of Mountain Dell attracted people from all
around. The Mountain Dell pond was smaller then. All the people from Virgin City, Grafton, etc.,
always had their celebrations at that pond. Fourth of July, Twenty Fourth of July, and May Day were
always very special days at Mountain Dell pond. (Owen planted grass and used it for winter pasture for
his cattle.) Everyone for miles around had their parties and picnics there.”
Owen lived in his Mountain Dell home for 20 years, enjoyed the love and association of his large family
and was prospered so, that during most of that time he had a well- filled table and adequate funds to
provide for his loved ones at the high standards of living he desired for them. His fine home had a
hardwood floor, windows, a front and back porch, and was filled with furniture.
Owen had always served in major Church positions wherever he had been. From time to time he served
for several years as the Stake President in England, at the time of his death he was serving as first
counselor in the Bishopric to Bishop Parker in America His home had been a spiritual refuge for many
troubled souls. His death brought sorrow and a longing for his influence among the Dixie Saints. A
glorious and joyful reunion of spirits took place with family in Paradise on the 26th of April, 1884 when
Owen passed through the veil.
– —-. Elizabeth’s influence and spiritual strength continued to be felt in Dixie until a week before Christmas in
1898, when she retired for the evening in her Mountain Dell home. Owen returned during the night,
embraced his sweetheart again for the first time in 14 years, and hand in hand they returned to their
eternal family and their glorious mansion in the eternal worlds.
Owen 180m’s son George – personal journal.
Quote from granddaughter Verna Isom Gifford.
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