Sarah immigrated to the Salt Lake Valley with her parents. They came in the Brigham Young Company of 1848 (his second crossing - mistakenly referred to as the Lorenzo Snow Company in biographies of William Davis), departing Winter Quarters on 5 June 1848 & arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in different smaller groups between the 20-24 September 1848 . 1220 individuals were in the company when it began its journey from the outfitting post at Winter Quarters, Nebraska.
It is interesting to interject some notes here: Also traveling in this company is Mary Ann Mount Snyder and her parents. Could 19 yr. old Sarah ever have dreamed that both she and little 6 yr.old Mary Ann Snyder would end up being wives of the same man?? Sarah arrives in Utah nearly a full year after John E. got there from being mustered out of Mormon Battalion Service. Did they know each other in Nauvoo or did their acquaintance happen as soon as she got to Salt Lake. Did her arrival cause the break-up of his marriage with Mary Ann Hunt? [Note Oct 2010. Probably not. New information has surfaced which I will add to Mary Ann's blog later]. Also traveling in this company were many other individuals whose names will be quickly recognizable in early Church History: Truman O. Angell, Israel Barlow, Reynolds Cahoon, Anson Call, John D. Lee, Isaac Morley, Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, W.W. Phelps, Zerah Pulsipher and Nelson Wheeler Whipple (whose journal would later record some events in the life of another of John's wives).
There is no history that we know of chronicling the life of Sarah Bell - only bits and pieces as they surface in the memories of other people. Onc such short notation is made in the Life Sketch of Sarah McKee Davis (Sarah Bell's mother) which I obtained from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. The author is a granddaughter of Sarah McKee's , Sarah Davis Dalton. The following gives insight into the difficult life of the early settlers of Brigham City:
"Times were very hard during the first years my grandparents lived in Utah. Food was far from plentiful and white flour was a luxury enjoyed by few of the saints. One of grandmother's daughters, Aunt Sarah, was very ill and the unpalatable food obtainable could not be retained in her stomach. Grandmother took all the money she had - - - fifity cents, and offered it for just enough flour to make a pancake for her sick daughter. She was refused the flour. The owner had three barrels of flour in his possession, [but] had to throw it all away later as it molded and could not be used."
John Erik Forsgren arrived back in the Salt Lake Valley from his year-long stint with the Mormon Battalion on October 1st or 16th, 1847. He had married and been sealed to Mary Ann Hunt prior to joining the battalion. That marriage had reached its end, according to John, because Mary Ann no longer wanted to put up with the persecutions and loss of their child. [The relationship of John and Mary Ann Hunt is treated in more detail on that separate blog post]. On October 26th of 1848 John's sealing to Mary Ann Hunt was cancelled. On February 15, 1849 John married Sarah Bell.
Sarah's niece Alice states in her memoir "It is said that [Sarah] was very beautiful, in fact, the most beautiful woman in Brigham." [To my knowledge there are no known photographs of Sarah Bell Davis.]
Five days after the birth of Alice, John's second child with Sarah, on July 17, 1854, John entered into a polygamous marriage with Harriet Frances Noon Smith, a two-year widow of David S. Smith. (Harriet was also sealed to David on that same day in the Endowment House). Harriet was the step-daughter of Heber C. Kimball. The sealings were performed by him. Harriet and John separated after a very short marriage and she later married Leonard E. Harrington with whom she lived out her life. [See more details about this union in her blog post]. This marriage was apparently very upsetting to Sarah Bell. In a memoir written by Alice Forsgren Eliason Hatch, a grand-niece of Sarah's (her brother Charles Wm's daughter) the following is quoted.
"Aunt Alice (our grandfather's sister) told me this: Her mother, Sarah Bell Davis had one child, Charles, and was seven months pregnant with her (Alice). One day she was standing on the porch and just happened to see a covered wagon bound for Salt Lake City and the Endowment House, and there was her husband going to take a second wife. She fainted and Aunt Alice was born prematurely. Sarah Bell was so angry she went home and, according to Aunt Alice, left her husband for good."
It would be wonderful, of course, to be able to clarify some of the details of this memory. On whose porch was Sarah standing? How did she know that the covered wagon she saw pass by was bound for S.L.? It is possible that John had informed her of his desire and intent, but to see the actuality happening was very upsetting to her. That she "went home and left her husband for good" must not have ocurred at this time since they are still together when Brigham Young sent John and Sarah and their two children to live in Carson City, (now Nevada) on February 29, 1856. While living there their third child, John Heber was born. The family returned to Brigham City early in 1858 with the other Carson Valley settlers when Brigham called them back because of the approach of Johnson's Army.
A deposition by Johannah Timerman, John Erik's stepdaughter, in 1893 in Stanton, Blaine Co., Idaho states that Sarah bore Joseph Clapper four children. I have information on only three, unless she did indeed have an out-of-wedlock child (John Heber?) before the twins were born. There is also room for a fourth child to have been born between the twins and Maroni. These are the names of the documented children:
- Twins: Joann Catherine Clapper and Joseph Christian Clapper born 30 October 1860 in Box Elder County. Joann died 1 Feb 1863 and Joseph died 12 Sept 1863.
- Maroni Davis Clapper, born 11 Oct 1863, Box Elder County. He died just two weeks later, on 26 October 1863.
Sarah Bell and Joseph Clapper have also been sealed: 17 Oct 1986, Los Angeles California Temple. This is consistent with the Church's policy that a woman may be sealed to all of her husbands just as a man may be sealed to all of his wives.
Sarah McKee Davis (1799-1888)
Sarah Bell's mother, who took over raising her children after Sarah's death in 1863(and who cared for them often during the times of her divorce from John E. Forsgren). Is it OK to state that if Sarah Bell was indeed the beauty that one descendant described her as, then it doesn't appear she got the genes directly from either of her two parents! Unkind statement. None of is at our prime in our old age! Sarah McKee Davis was a beloved person in Brigham City. She had extensive medical training from her father and was midwife to many of Brigham's inhabitants. A full biography of her will be posted to the Christina Erika Forsgren blog: christinaerikaforsgren.blogspot.com)
William Davis (1795-1883)
Beloved Bishop and Mayor of Brigham City; Father of Sarah Bell Forsgren (and husband to Christina Erika Forsgren, Sarah Bell's Sister-in-Law - John E's sister). Brother Davis was blind in his later years. His full biography will be posted to christinaerikaforsgren.blogspot.com.