Roundy Farmed First to Keep Zion Growing
written by Elizabeth Schoenfeld (staff writer), Deseret News, 28 June 1981
Shadrach Roundy plowed the soil and planted crops in Salt Lake Valley the day before Brigham Young and the rest of his company of pioneers entered “the place which God prepared.”
At 11:30 a.m. on July 23, 1847, the advance party staked off a little farm. At noon, three plows were digging up the soil. At 2 p.m., a dam was constructed across City Creek.
Potatoes, beans, corn, buckwheat and turnips were planted. There was not time to waste as July was late for these crops.
Roundy was one of the oldest pioneers to come to the great Basin that summer. He was 58 years old and was older than the Prophet Joseph Smith, older than Brigham Young and most of the other Mormon leaders.
From his baptism in the first year of the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to his death in July 1872, he could be heard telling of his faith during the early days of persecution, the five times he crossed the plains and his role in the settlement of the West. Roundy had been a close friend of the Prophet and was mentioned more than 30 times in [Joseph] Smith’s personal diary.
Roundy had been called a bishop by revelation and his name appears in the 124th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
An historian described Roundy as “fully 6 feet tall, raw-boned and muscular, weighing slightly less than 200 pounds.” Another wrote, “He was exceptionally amiable and greatly enjoyed conversation. He had a vivid, active mind and an unusually good memory.”
When he was 24 or 25, he married Betsy Quimby and they were the parents of 10 children.She had the qualifications of a New England lady — gentle, refined, intelligent, longsuffering, patient. “She endured hardships cheerfully,” a historian wrote.
The Roundy family was generous with time, love and money.
They followed their faith from Fayette, N.Y., to Kirtland, Ohio, to Nauvoo, Ill., and other areas where they were needed.
On May 7, 1835, members of the church presidency laid their hands on the heads of 119 men who had consecrated their property and labor to build the Kirtland Temple. Roundy was the 33rd man to receive the blessing.
On Jan. 29, 1839, when Brigham Young was leading the Saints from Missouri, many of the leaders entered into a covenant to stand by and assist one another and “never desert the poor who are worthy.” The Covenant was signed by 380 stalwarts and Shadrach Roundy was the ninth person to sign.
Not only was Roundy a bodyguard for Joseph Smith, he was the Prophet’s guard and assistant aide-de-camp on his staff. On several occasions, Roundy accompanied him to Monmouth, Carthage and other towns in Illinois, while Joseph stood trial.
Two days before leaving Nauvoo for Carthage, on May 24, 1844, the Prophet wrote in his journal: “I had a long talk with Edward Hunter, my brother Hyrum, Dr. Richards, William Marks, Almon W. Babbit, Shadrach Roundy, Edward Romney and other, and concluded not to keep out of the way of the officers any longer.”
On special occasions in Nauvoo and Springfield, when parties had been held almost exclusively for church officials, Roundy and his wife were also invited, although Roundy did not hold a high church office.
Among his accomplishments, Roundy became a captain of 50 on the trek west. He served as bishop of the Fifth Ward in Winter Quarters. In August 1847, he was assigned to head a
Page 2 of 2company to return to Winter Quarters to bring another group of pioneers west. He became one of 12 men appointed to the first high council in Salt Lake City. During the latter part of his life he was a patriarch.
Roundy was a merchant and instrumental, with others, in the establishment of ZCMI. He always considered Salt Lake City his home.
While their own children were growing up and leaving, the Roundys opened their home to other children. Betsy Quimby raised two orphan boys. Then she took in several girls, of which two were her own motherless granddaughters.
In 1859, orphaned Lydia Ann Wright, still a baby, was taken into the Roundy home. She lived with them until she was 16 years old and capable of earning her own living.
At 16, she was presented with a sugar bowl, the only preserved possession of her mother.
Shadrach died at 83, Betsy at 87. They are buried side by side in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Ancestry Chain: TR, Lark, Kirt DeMar WOOD 1923-1987, Laura Elizabeth PARKER 1889-1971, Charles PARKER 1853-1935, Almeda Sophia ROUNDY 1829-1912, Shadrach ROUNDY 1789-1872.