The Wheatville branch in Crawford
County, twenty-five miles south of Viola, was organized November 9, 1876,
by Elder William Savage in the home of Jacob S. Whiteaker.
Since the majority of the seven members lived in Clayton Township,
adjoining Scott Township on the north, it was decided to call the branch
Jacob S. Whiteaker, his wife Gertrude, with their son Aleric L. had
been baptized October 29, 1876, by William Savage.
Jacob was ordained an elder and became the first branch president,
with Aleric as branch clerk. Others
to be baptized were Louisa and Lovina Hancock; Andrew and William O.
Closson; and a near neighbor, S. Slade, and his three grandchildren.
Jacob and Gertrude Whiteaker were born and married in Ohio. They became the parents of five children - Catherine,
William, Joseph, Wilson, and Aleric.
In 1856, two years after the first settler had arrived, the family
came to Scott Township in Crawford County.
It was just twenty years later that Elder William Savage of the
Reorganized church came to the Whiteaker home, converting them and some of
Clossey and Martha (Linston) Closson with their children, Frank,
William O., Elizabeth, Margaret, and Andrew V., had been living in
Crawford County since 1856. While
building their log home, they had lived in the home of their neighbor,
Jacob Whiteaker, where they first heard the gospel preached and were
Clossey Closson was born in Sweden June 9, 1822.
In 1848 he married Martha Linston and they came to America in 1849.
They made their home first in Chicago, then lived in Kane County,
Illinois, until 1855. In that year the family started west with an ox
team. After weeks of travel
they arrived in Crawford County where they purchased land in what is now
known as the town of Scott.
In 1862 Clossey Closson enlisted in an army of the Civil War,
serving until the war ended and he was honorably discharged.
Upon returning home, happy to again be with his family, he resumed
farming. In 1866 the Clossons
moved across the county line to Akan, Richland County. Here Clossey served as a member of the town board, as
assessor for four years, and as town treasurer twelve years.
The Excelsior branch in Richland County was organized in 1881 in
the home of William O. and Phoebe Closson, William served as the first
branch president. He also was
active in the Evergreen and Frankfort branches before moving to
Andrew V. Closson, baptized by William Savage, was ordained an
elder and served the Excelsior branch as president.
He was later ordained a seventy and still later a high priest.
He had married Mary Brown, a convert to the church.
They became the parents of four children - Virgie, Glen, Clarice
G., and Ola. Andrew was an
active missionary in Wisconsin before moving to Independence.
Aleric L. Whiteaker, the first Wheatville branch clerk, married
Linda Oerick and did missionary work while his wife lived at the home of
his parents. Aleric and
Lucinda became the parents of five children - Leonora, Olive D., John
L., Iva B., and a son who died in infancy.
In 1877 Elder Amos Bronson visited the Wheatville branch and found
Elder William Savage laboring to keep the Saints united in the faith and a
good influence on those outside the church.
Elder Bronson found that the cry of 'polygamy' usually greeted
all the missionaries, but when the 'rubbish' of Salt Lakeism was
removed', people became receptive to the teaching of the gospel.
On January 29, 1877, Francis M. Cooper baptized Joseph A. McDowell
and his wife, Elizabeth (Squires) McDowell.
Elders Aleric Whiteaker and Francis M. Cooper spent considerable
time among the Wheatville Saints as well as ministering in outside
communities. Among other
members were George and Lucy Squires, parents of Elizabeth McDowell; Isaac
Anderson, Sr., and his wife Miranda (Wheaton) who became the parents of
eight children; and Jefferson H. Thompson who married Susan D. Whiteaker.
They became the parents of ten children.
Elder Jacob Whiteaker, first Wheatville branch president, wrote:
'The members are firm in the faith, and are determined by the grace of
God assisting them, to overcome, and to gain a victory and haven of rest
promised to God's people.' He
also told of two cases of remarkable healing, one of a sick child with
fever and another of an aged sister who was thrown from her wagon,
bruised, speechless, and helpless, but after administration sat up,
talked, and ate dinner.
Church services were held in the homes of Jacob Whiteaker; George
Squired, Lon Beebe, and Isaac Anderson.
All of these homes were in Scott Township except that of the
Whiteakers; their home was in Wheatville, less that ten miles northwest.
Church services were all-day meetings, with preaching services in
the forenoon followed by a family-style dinner, then another preaching
service. Every Sunday was
eagerly anticipated for the opportunity the day afforded to worship God
and to enjoy fellowship.
Jacob Whiteaker built a small church with his own funds. It was located about one-fourth mile east of his home near
the cemetery where his parents and several of the Saints were buried.
He soon found disappointment in his investment since the
missionaries a few years later began preaching more often at
Montgomeryville, ten miles to the south.
Eventually the little church building became deserted and fell into
Jacob Whiteaker served as presiding elder until 1891. During that year four of the Whiteaker family died; Jacob on
April 5; Lucinda, the wife of Aleric, May 9; Wilson R., son of Jacob,
October 2; and the mother, Gertrude, wife of Jacob, October 10.
In 1905 a church was built at Montgomeryville; it was soon replaced
by a new brick building across the road from the old.
Then in 1908 the name of the branch was changed from Wheatville to
Joseph W. Whiteaker was born in Allen County, Indiana, October 7,
1846. In 1855 he came with
his parents to Wisconsin, settling near Bell Center.
He married Miss Ellen Coleman in September 1867.
To them were born ten children.
Joseph served many years as president of the Wheatville, later
Soldiers Grove, branch, and was respected by all for his faith, counsel,
Eventually the members began to drift to other locations.
The Lon Beebes moved to Missouri and the George and Lucy Squires
went to California. Aleric
Whiteaker, after the death of his wife Lucinda, married Mrs. Jane Thompson
and moved to Chetek, Wisconsin. Several
of the Clossons moved to Independence.
Joseph Whiteaker died August 20, 1927; Ellen, his wife, had died
February 25, 1926.
The Wheatville branch as well as other Wisconsin branches served
the purpose of uniting many Latter Day Saint families in the church, but
many of these sites eventually became historical data only.
Frankfort Branch at Porcupine:
The Frankfort branch at Porcupine in Pepin County, Wisconsin, came
about as the result of the visit of a young missionary, Herbert P. Curtis
I the home of his Aunt Rachel E. Metcalf.
Also living here was Uncle Percy Curtis, brother of Rachel.
At the same time Elder Charles H. Burr was preaching in the
vicinity. No doubt he came to
Porcupine by the invitation of Joseph W. Heath, Jr., the only known church
member in the locality at the time. He
had been baptized into the old church organization on July 18, 1852,
Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, by Elder Rowland Cobb.
He was born at the location January 10, 1822.
His wife Elizabeth was born in Stiendorf, Germany, August 23, 1833.
After their marriage they came to Frankfort in 1863.
Missionaries Curtis and Burr were interested in bringing these
people the story of the Reorganized church.
They gained permission to use the Maple Ridge schoolhouse.
Among those attending were two young farmhands, Murry and Morse
Shedd. They became so
interested in the message these Mormon preachers brought that they asked
them to come to the Porcupine schoolhouse and hold a series of services. In January of 1984, with the temperature below zero, the
schoolhouse was filled each night, although some just came to look at the
'Mormon' preachers since the services had been well advertised.
When Hulda (Mrs. Frank Livingston) heard of the preaching services
she could hardly wait to attend. She
remembered how at the age of four, she had listened to her father read a
newspaper account of the tragedy at Nauvoo when Joseph and Hyrum were
killed Her parents were John L. and Hulda Bundy of Fox, Pennsylvania,
where Hulda was born in 1840. The parents were members of the old church organization and
died before learning of the Reorganization.
In 1864 Hulda came to Wisconsin and married James Franklin
Livingston and settled in Porcupine Valley in 1885.
Six children were born to then, one dying in early childhood; the
others were Sheridan, Wilson, Judson, William, and Anna.
As Hulda listed to the preaching of the elders, she began to
tremble from head to foot; the Holy Spirit bore witness that this was the
'angel's message' that she had been taught by her parents.
She was baptized February 5, 1894, and was instantly healed of an
illness of long standing. She
was followed in baptism by her husband, Frank Livingston, Emily Hoyt,
Violetta Veness, Anna Hill, Dulcene Bingnal, Helen King, and Eli and Nancy
On March 4, 1894, Rachel (Curtis) Metcalf was baptized.
She had been among the first to open her house to the missionaries.
She was born August 13, 1826, at Livingston, New York.
She married William Metcalf September 28, 1840, and they became the
parents of eight children who became active in the church.
On the same day Rachel was baptized, Sally Shedd was baptized.
She was the mother of the two young men who asked the elders to
preach at Porcupine. During
the year thirty-two were baptized. These
baptisms took place in Porcupine Creek, a little stream about two feet
deep except for a few deep holes which had been dug out for swimming.
Of Nancy Place, a charter member, the following can be found in the
History of Buffalo and Pepin Counties:
She is a lady highly respected and with numerous friends.
At times she indulges her strong natural taste for poetry, and some
of her most noteworthy productions of this kind have been issued from the press.
One of these gives a vivid description of old time days in and
around Porcupine depicting pioneer scenes and doing with close fidelity of
In a lengthy poem she tells how the fair valley happened to be
named and how it has kept the same name to the present day.
The 'mountain' in the shape of a hog's back is still Hog's
Back Hill, where an early settler killed the largest porcupine he had ever
seen; the place was therefore named Porcupine.
After so many baptisms the usual persecution began, but these
Saints did not get discouraged. They
maintained their faith with the blessings of God sustaining them. Elder Willis A. McDowell came to the assistance of Elders
Curtis and Burr, making a very effectual three-man team.
On October 16, 1894, those faithful few met at the Porcupine
schoolhouse and the Frankfort branch was organized by Curtis and McDowell.
The first officers chosen were Herbert P. Curtis, president, George
Longsdorf, clerk; and Joseph Heath, Jr., teacher.
Of Curtis, there seems to be on information available concerning
him. We find George Longsdorf
was born February 22, 1840, at Fairview, Pennsylvania.
His wife Anna was born at Carroll, in the same state, March 21
Andrew Closson became the second branch president in 1895, serving
until 1900. After the
membership reached fifty the Saints decided to a church.
Jim Shaw, a nonmember, donated the ground.
His brother, Isaiah Shaw, gave two thousand feet of logs to be
sawed into lumber. Andrew
Closson was a good carpenter and offered his services along with others. Rock for the foundation was quarried from the Joseph Heath
farm, and Joseph Warren also contributed logs to be cut at the sawmill.
The seats were designed and made by Andrew Closson.
A bell was purchased from the Catholic Church at Eau Galle,
Wisconsin. When the stoves
were set up and the kerosene lamps hung the church was ready after two
years of work and sacrifice.
Local men who had been called to the priesthood during this time
were William Livingston (teacher and priest), Joseph V. Heath (teacher),
Leroy Veness (priest), William H. Edwards(deacon), Orson A. Warren
(deacon), William Hutchinson (elder), Sheridan Livingston (priest), Ralph
H. Livingston (deacon, George E. Rose (deacon), William Earl Livingston
(priest), and Morse Shedd (teacher).
In 1896 Mamie Closson organized 'The Mite Society,' becoming
the first president. The same
year the first choir of twelve members was organized and Mary (Mrs.
Valentine ) White became the first organist.
The first Sunday school was called, 'The Prince of Peace,' a
name chosen by Mary Metcalf, the first secretary and treasurer.
Mary White became the first superintendent, assisted by S.E.
Livingston. The first
Zion's Religio was organized in 1900 with Joseph Warren president,
William Livingston vice-president, Lilly Girard secretary, and Maggie
Sheridan Livingston became the pastor of the branch October 1,
1900, and served for the next twenty-six years.
Sheridan was born January 26, 1865, at Trempealeau, Wisconsin;
baptized December 5, 1898; and ordained an elder at Frankfort.
His wife, Lenora, was born July 17, 1865, at Waubeka, Wisconsin.
They became the parents of eight children.
In 1901 thirty members transferred from Frankfort to the Ono
branch; in 1917 twenty members transferred to the Rock Elm branch.
These two branches were only a few miles from Frankfort.
The Ono branch existed a short time and some of the members came to
the Rock Elm branch when it was organized in 1917.