JOSEPH WOOLSEY (abt 1771-1839), born in Ulster County, New York and died in Vandalia, Fayette County, Illinois, is the son of the Revolutionary War Veteran Richard Woolsey (1747-1825) and Nancy Plumstead, of Westchester, Ulster and Orange Counties, New York, to Washington County, Virginia, and to Greene County, Tennessee, to Pulaski and Jessamine Counties, Kentucky, where he (Richard Woolsey) made application for a Revolutionary War pension and where he died. Richard Woolsey is the son of the early Baptist Minister Rev. Thomas Woolsey & Elizabeth Waters, from Westchester County, New York, to Washington County, Virginia.
JOSEPH WOOLSEY married about 1804 in Lincoln County, Kentucky, to Abigail Schaeffer (13 Sep 1786-2 Sep 1848) born in Maryland and died “at the Last or 9th Crossing of the Sweetwater” (her brother-in-law Jacob C. Woolsey dug her grave) during the Mormon migration of 1848. She is the daughter of John Schaeffer and Nancy Hopkins. Joseph Woolsey died in 1839, before the 1840 census of Vandalia, Fayette County, Illnois.
ABIGAIL SCHAEFFER WOOLSEY is an amazing woman, who left a lasting heritage of faithfulness and fortitude. When her daughter Agatha Ann Woolsey, the first wife of John D. Lee, introduced her to the Gospel, she embraced it whole heartedly, remaining faithful from her baptism 17 Jun 1838, in Vandalia, Fayette County, Illinois, until her death on the cold dreary plains of Wyoming, just before “Rocky Ridge” on the way to the summit of the Rockies. From Vandalia, she suffered the troubles of Missouri, then to Nauvoo, then driven from there, to Winter Quarters , then to Summer Quarters, and then started across the plains, with her son-in-law, John D. Lee and his families, and several of her sons and daughters and their families.
Eight of her twelve children joined the Church. The twelve children of Joseph Woolsey and Abigail Woolsey:
01. THOMAS WOOLSEY (3 Nov 1805-5 Jan 1897), baptized 26 May 1834, various missions to Illinois and Tennessee then to Missouri, then to Nauvoo, then Winter Quarters, where he started with the Mormon Battalion, detached with the “Sick Detachment” to Pueblo, Colorado, walked back to catch up with the Mormon Battalion, detached the second time with another “sick detachment”, to Pueblo, Colorado, back to the Mormon Battalion, and again detached with a third “sick detachment” to Pueblo, Colorado. Then in the middle of an extremely harsh winter, about Christmas time, he and John Tippets, carrying mail and money from Mormon Battalion Members, suffering frost bite, starvation, capture by Indians and near death then near marriage by the Indians, traveled back to Winter Quarters, where he became a member of Brigham Young’s Pioneer group. Thomas Woolsey started with the Pioneer Company where he was again asked to return to Pueblo, Colorado, to gather the Saints living there, returning with them to the main Pioneer Party, he made his way to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, is said to have plowed the first furrow (probably among others) and then the next year (1848) he returned with the Brigham Young Company to Winter Quarters, and then was asked to serve at the Summer Quarters, raising food for the migrating Saints, where he stayed until 1852, when he, with his families, his brother Richard Woolsey and his families, his brother James Hopkins Woolsey’s family and other family members, made the trek to Utah. Thomas Woolsey, his wives and families, will be treated in a later letter.
02. HYRUM WOOLSEY (abt 1806-aft 1860) born at Fishing Creek (Lincoln County), Pulaski County, Kentucky, died aft 1860 in Utah. He married about 1825 in Jessamine County, Kentucky, to Rachel Mitchell. He and his family have been treated in a previous letter.
03. RICHARD WOOLSEY (28 Aug 1808-1880/1882) born in Fishing Creek, Lincoln County, Kentucky (Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky) died at New Harmony, Washington County, Utah. Richard Woolsey was baptized 5 Nov 1839 in Illinois. Richard Woolsey, his wives and families, will be treated in a later letter.
04. JOHN WOOLSEY (abt 1810-12 Mar 1847) born in Fishing Creek, Lincoln (Pulaski County), Kentucky and died in Fayette County, Illinois. His is a Mexican War Veteran, with papers. He married 24 Feb 1835 in Fayette County, Illinois, to Jane Haley. John Woolsey did not join the Church that I have found. He and his wife Jane Haley had the following children (all were born in Illinois):
A. James Harrison Woolsey (21 Jul 1836-30 Mar 1922) married 28 Apr 1862 Fernandiah Williams.
B. Joseph H. Woolsey (26 Apr 1838-1860-65) lived and died in Fayette County, Illinois. Unmarried
C. Benjamin Hardy Woolsey (6 Dec 1841-26 Mar 1933) lived & died in Illinois. He had a large family by each of his two wives: married 1) 26 Apr 1865 Rachel A. Ford & married 2) 13 Jan 1884 Sarah Perkins.
D. Elizabeth Ann Woolsey (10 Oct 1844-29 May 1868) married 1 Feb 1863 Aaron Pittman.
05. MARY “POLLY” WOOLSEY (1812-BEF 1837) born in Fishing Creek, Lincoln (Pulaski County), Kentucky, died in Jackson County, Indiana. She married 18 Jun 1830 at Salt Lick, Jackson County, Indiana to Thomas Whitson. 2 sons. I have found no evidence that she joined the Church.
06. AGATHA ANN WOOLSEY (18 Jan 1814-4 Jun 1866) born at Fishing Creek, died at New Harmony, Washington County, Utah. Agatha Ann Woolsey was the first wife of John D. Lee, married 23 Jul 1833 at Randolph County, Indiana. She was baptized 17 Jun 1838 in Illinois, then moved to Missouri, and while John D. Lee was on a mission, her cabin was burned down by the mob and she was living in a make-shift shelter in a corner of it, when John D. Lee returned home. Her joy at seeing her husband can only be imagined. Agatha Ann Woolsey remained faithful to John D. Lee until her death, raising their family and supporting her husband in all his assignments. Agatha Ann Woolsey had twelve children by John D. Lee but I’ll not go into them at this time.
07. NANCY WOOLSEY (1817-aft 1880) born Jessamine County, Kentucky, died Otego, Fayette County, Illinois, married 9 Nov 1837 Fayette County, Illinois, to Thomas A. Gatewood “Young Tom”. They had eleven children. I have found nothing to indicate they joined the Church, but remained in Illinois.
08. ELIZABETH WOOLSEY (25 Mar 1818-8 Aug 1847) born Jessamine County, Kentucky, died Fayette County, Illinois. She married 17 May 1841 in Fayette County, Illinois, to John B. Henninger. They had five children and I have found no evidence that they joined the Church, but remained in Illinois.
09. SARAH WOOLSEY (2 Oct 1820-21 Feb 1899) born Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, died at Hatton (Kanosh), Millard County, Utah. She married 28 Jul 1838 at Fayette County, Illinois to George Washington Hickerson. She was baptized 12 Oct 1840 and they came to Utah in the Willard Richard Company (1848). They had twelve children, including my grandmother Clarissa Melissa Hickerson Whitaker, wife of Orson Whitaker.
10. JAMES HOPKINS WOOLSEY (2 Mar 1822-15 Oct 1903) born in Jessamine County, Kentucky, died at Kanosh, Millard County, Utah. He was baptized 6 Oct 1840. He married about 1843 at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, to Lovina Patterson and they had four children, three of whom lived to come to Utah with their mother in the David Wood Company (1852). James Hopkins Woolsey was the “black sheep” of the family; leaving his wife and children and “running off to California, with another woman.” Years later he appeared in Utah and begged Lovina to come back to him but in the meantime, she had married the widower Isaac Busenbark, and would have nothing to do with him. I’m not sure how James Hopkins Woolsey got to California, he may have come through Utah.
11. RACHEL ANDORA WOOLSEY (5 Aug 1825-7 Jul 1912) born in Jessamine (Mercer) County, Kentucky and died at Safford, Graham County, Arizona. She was baptized 17 Jun 1837. Rachel Andora Woolsey married, as his fifth wife, John D. Lee (her mother Abigail Schaeffer Woolsey was John D. Woolsey’s fourth wife, married, as he said, for her “protection and convenience of traveling.”) Rachel Andora was one of the most faithful of John D. Lee’s wives, going with him to some of the most primitive areas of Utah and establishing homes there, for example, New Harmony, Lee’s Ferry, and other “forsaken” places. She constantly visited John D. Lee when he was in prison, cooking meals, cleaning and washing up, until he was executed. John D. Lee and Rachel Andora Woolsey had eight children. She had no children when she came to Utah, but as they crossed the plains, she was pregnant with her first child Elizabeth Abigail Lee, born Dec 1848 at Big Cottonwood, Salt Lake County, Utah. Elizabeth Abigail Lee died in 1853, age 5.
12. WILLIAM ANDREW WOOLSEY (1 Jan 1833-8 Dec 1893) born in Randolph County, Indiana, died 8 Dec 1893 in Salt Lake City and is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. I don’t have an original baptismal date but he was probably baptized about the time of the other Woolseys (1841-1847). William Andrew Woolsey married 18 Jan 1856 near Alvarado, Alameda, California, to Emily Amanda M. Rockwell Brizzee, who is a daughter of Orrin Porter Rockwell and Luana Bebee. William Andrew Woolsey and Emily Amanda M. Rockwell had two children, a son William Richard Woolsey and a daughter Lulu B. (aka Lucy B.) Woolsey. These two children were raised as TYRELLS as their mother married David Monroe Tyrell, but she had no children by Tyrell. Because William Andrew Woolsey was closely associated with his sister Sarah Woolsey and her husband George Washington Hickerson, it is thought that William Andrew Woolsey came to Utah in the Brigham Young Company (1848).