Posterity of Nancy Bean (1826 - 1903)

Listing 439 descendants for 7 generations.

4545. Nancy1 BEAN was born 14Dec 1826 in West Troy, Lincoln, Missouri. She was the daughter of James BEAN and Elizabeth LEWIS. Nancy died 3Mar 1903 in Parowan, Iron, Utah, and was buried 5Mar 1903 in Parowan, Iron, Utah.

Writings by Nancy Bean herself are not now extant, if in fact they ever existed. Her fascinating biography must therefore be told by those who knew her. The authors of her story include her brother, husband, son, daughter, and grandchildren. Her early journey began in Lincoln County, Missouri and crossed America to the Great Salt Lake Valley, Provo and Parowan. She was a pioneer in every sense of the word.

From her brother George Washington Bean, we read: "My parents were married July 27, 1824, in Lincoln County, Missouri. Their eldest daughter, Nancy, was born there. Our intelligent mother kept bad words washed from our tongues. 'A soft answer turneth away wrath,' she would say. My parents were strictly religious, father a Methodist and mother a Presbyterian. Alexander Williams, a Missouri exile became our fast friend and we invited him to our house. Elder Williams obtained the privilege of preaching in our school house. The result was that in May 1841 Elder Williams baptized my father, mother, and my sister, Nancy, into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

About this time the mob spirit prevailed and a new gathering place had been established at a place called Commerce (Nauvoo). The members of the Church were advised to gather there as fast as possible and assist in the building of the temple which the Prophet Joseph had already commenced. Father and I did some work on the Nauvoo Temple. Besides this we attended the conferences and celebrations on public days and were counted on by our teachers as being very apt to learn.

About this time my oldest sister Nancy, aged sixteen, was persuaded to marry Thomas J. Williams, a school teacher that boarded at our home. He seemed to resent her baptism and scoffed at her religious fervor and refused to go to Nauvoo with the Saints. A separation resulted and he was given custody of their little Elizabeth who was taken to Warsaw, Illinois."

From John D. Lee's diaries, we read: "My second wife, Nancy Bean was the daughter of wealthy farmers. She saw me on a mission and heard me preach at her father's home. She came to Nauvoo and stayed at my house and grew in favor."

In 1845 Nancy Bean married John D. Lee and later was sealed to him on January 14, 1846. Brigham Young performed the sealing with Heber C. Kimball and Jedediah Morgan Grant as witnesses. On January 15, 1846 Nancy gave birth to their daughter, Eliza Lee, later named Cornelia. Nancy and her three-week-old baby were among the first to be taken across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo when the mobs came. From Juanita Brooks' writings, "Nancy was the first to bear a child under the New Covenant and it was thought she should be out of the city in case of an investigation."

For a while Nancy alternated living with Lee and her parents in Winter Quarters.

Continuing from the autobiography of her brother, George Washington Bean, he tells of the sickness and deaths in the Bean family. "Nancy, the eldest, was the only one well enough to wait on them. We had parts of three families in our cabin including Nancy and babe." Williams' autobiography tells of ten families being under one captain. Nancy and babe were named as part of the Bean family under command of Captain Daniel Miller.

From John D. Lee's journals: "Tension was mounting, especially with Nancy Bean." He mentioned her often as helping to plant and weed the garden, going berrying with the group, visiting Winter Quarters, or getting turnip seeds, as though she were cooperating to the fullest in all activities. She even helped to haul brick from the old fort.

Continuing from John D. Lee: "July 19, 1847, Her father preferred to take Nancy and child, board them and take them on next spring for what help and company she could be to her mother."

As George Washington Bean reported, Nancy and her little Eliza (later named Cornelia) came west with her parents and arrived in the Valley on September 4, 1848. She had obtained a writing of releasement from John D. Lee.

From a biographical sketch of Nancy Bean Lee Decker and her daughter, Cornelia Lee Decker Mortensen, by W. King Driggs, we learn: In August of 1933 W. King Driggs took his mother-in-law, Cornelia (Nancy's daughter) on a picnic to one of the Utah canyons. He made her comfortable by a creek and told her to tell him everything she could remember of her life and that of her mother, Nancy, so he could write it down. King loved his mother-in-law deeply.

From these notes dictated by Cornelia, we were able to continue the story of Nancy Bean and her tiny daughter. The Bean family settled in Pioneer Square or the old fort in Great Salt Lake City. A little later they moved to Mill Creek just south of the city. It was here Nancy met Zachariah Bruyn Decker upon his return from the Mormon Battalion expedition to California and married him. They build a one-room adobe cabin in Salt Lake City where they lived for about a year. They then moved back to Mill Creek and soon after, Zachariah Decker was called by Brigham Young to help colonize Iron County in southern Utah. He left his wife and Cornelia together with a newly-born son at Provo with the Beans while he went to Iron County in 1850 and helped to found the city of Parowan. The following spring he sent a man with a team back to Provo to bring his family. The family was reunited in the new settlement there in the spring of 1851. Zachariah B. Decker was a farmer and constable of Parowan. Nancy Bean bore him eleven children.

The following excerpts are from Cornelia's letter to her granddaughter, Maxine Driggs Thomas, recalling memories of her mother, Nancy: "Most of my girl companions were barefooted in the summer, but mother (Nancy Bean Decker) always kept shoes that she made herself for me to wear to dress up in. She would buy the skins of deer from the Indians for a little bread or flour. She would baste three of those together, put a frame inside of them and stretch them in the shape of an Indian teepee, dig a small pit and stretch them over the pit, put coals, bark and leaves in the pit to make a strong smoke but no blaze, for that would burn the skins. When they were colored by the smoke to a rich brown she would take the longest part of the skins and made trousers for father and the boys. From the skin around the neck of the deer she made low shoes for us. She would fashion the tops of the shoes. Father would cut soles from a pair of Machives he had brought from California when he came from his trip with the Mormon Battalion. Mother would turn the tops and sew them or turn them back and I would have a nice pair of shoes to wear with my best flannel dress. As I grew older my mother taught me to spin and weave and because I could do such work, I had better clothes than my girl friends."

Arlington Peter Mortensen, Nancy's grandson who knew her when he was a child in Parowan, recalls: "My grandfather, Zachariah Bruyn Decker, was born June 22, 1817 in Shawaugunk, Ulster County, New York. He spent some time washing gold at Sutter's Mill, California after his discharge from the Mormon Battalion. He returned to Salt Lake where he and Nancy Bean were married October 4, 1849. My mother Cornelia was now old enough to realize what was going on. Cornelia left us a vivid picture of the grasshopper war, of the missions of black crickets that came from every direction. In 1849 James Bean was called to take his family and go as one of the original pioneers in the settlement of Utah County, now Provo, followed a few weeks later by Zachariah and Nancy Decker and their small family. The first camp of the company was on the bank of the Provo River and just east of the present Lake View Road leading to the Geneva Steel Mills."

Nancy Bean's son, Zachariah Decker, Jr. recalls several incidents regarding his mother's activities. When he was eight years old he drove a team to Salt Lake City with his mother, Nancy, and others. One night they camped at Sevier Bridge, the same place where (two months before) the Indians had killed three men. Nancy was awakened in the night by the horses coming to camp on the run, hobbled and snorting furiously. The commotion awakened the whole camp. They were all out and soon on their way before the sun arose. When the arrived in Salt Lake, the grown-ups went to conference and the boys took a load of sorghum cane to have it made up into molasses.

From the History of Iron County Mission and Parowan, we read: "Nancy Bean Decker was one of the pillars of strength in the pioneer colony, Parowan, where her skill as a tailor helped many a man to be the proud owner of a homespun suit of clothes. She was an expert weaver, making many beautiful coverlids (bed spreads) in intricate designs. She made many fine serviceable straw hats for the men folks that were really appreciated in the days when there were no clothing stores to turn to. She was a beautiful sewer and always willing to impart of her knowledge and skills to others. She was an excellent cook and very resourceful in every way. Even in the lean years when the grasshoppers took most of the crops, she managed to feed her large family so they never went hungry.

"She was not only a wonderful mother, but she was a ministering angel in many homes where her services were greatly appreciated, and many there were who called her blessed."

She married (1) Thomas J. WILLIAMS 4Sep 1842.

They had 1 child:

4546.Fi.Mary Elizabeth or Lillian WILLIAMS. She married George Porter WALKER.

Nancy married (2) John Doyle LEE 4Feb 1844 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois.

They had 1 child:

+ 4547.Fii.Cornelia "Eliza Lee" DECKER, born 15Jan 1846, died 26Dec 1937.

Nancy married (3) Zachariah Bruyn DECKER 4Oct 1849 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

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4547. Cornelia "Eliza Lee"2 DECKER (Nancy1) was born 15Jan 1846 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois. Cornelia died 26Dec 1937 in Sanford, Conejos, Colorado, and was buried 1937 in Sanford, Conejos, Colorado.

Cornelia was a pioneer of Salt Lake City, 1848; Provo, 1849; Parowan, Utah, 1851; and Sanford, Colorado, 1887. She grew up with the building of Parowan, with natural leadership ability, inherited, perhaps from her father who also played an important part in the building of Parowan. With her keen intellect and constant desire to obtain knowledge, she developed early into a power that was felt for good wherever she went.

She had little formal schooling; books were scarce and time to read them even more so. As she spun and wove as all pioneer women were required to do, she placed a book directly in front and conveniently near the spinning wheel or loom. As she worked she caught a few words or a thought which she stored in her memory, which she was able to call forth in her many public duties throughout her life. Her ability to lead and direct public affairs reached the point where many declared her to be the most outstanding woman of southern Utah.

In the fall of 1910 at the fairgrounds in Salt Lake City, her son recorded, "I walked up the steps of the platform holding Mother by the arm. Elder John Henry Smith called, 'Bro. Mortensen, bring your mother and sit with us.' As we approached he put his arm around her, then turning to me, said, 'You have a wonderful mother. I have known her since her infancy. She has the best blood in this nation in her veins. Don't ever do anything to cause her sorrow.'

"Again, in 1918 while Emeline B. Wells, a life-long friend of Mother's, was convalescing in an apartment in the Hotel Utah, Mother was there to spend the day.... I went there to see her. As I arose to leave, Aunt Em said almost the exact words that Elder Smith had said, but added, 'Had your mother lived in Salt Lake instead of the country, I am afraid it would have been President Cornelia Lee Mortensen in place of President Emeline B. Wells, General Relief Society President of the Church. I say this in all seriousness for your mother is one of the few natural born leaders.'"

When Parowan celebrated its centennial, much of the program on the twenty-fourth of July was devoted to the memory of persons who had once lived there. Lars and Cornelia Mortensen were referred to as, perhaps, the most outstanding couple of early day history. A poem written by their son, Arlington, was read as a tribute to their memory. That, in view of the fact that they had moved away from Parowan sixty-four years before, was bona fide evidence of the esteem in which they were held.

Cornelia served her church continually for twenty-five years. She was good in obstetrical nursing, having a record of upwards of two thousand deliveries with but two losses. She died at the age of ninety-two.

She married Lars MORTENSEN 29Dec 1863 in Parowan, Iron, Utah. He was born 25Jul 1842 in Haarbolle, Praesto, Denmark. He was the son of Peder MORTENSEN and Lene "Helena" PEDERSEN. Lars died 27Jun 1910 in Sanford, Conejos, Colorado, and was buried 30Jun 1910 in Sanford, Conejos, Colorado.

They had 12 children:

+ 4548.Fi.Cornelia Adella MORTENSEN, born 24Jan 1865, died 24Sep 1889.

+ 4603.Fii.Nancy Evelyn MORTENSEN, born 17Dec 1866, died 27Jan 1937.

+ 4667.Fiii.Helen Laurette MORTENSEN, born 11Oct 1868, died 5Dec 1939.

+ 4699.Miv.Lars Hamner MORTENSEN, born 9Nov 1870, died 20Jan 1967.

+ 4706.Fv.Alice Gertrude MORTENSEN, born 22Dec 1872, died 8Jul 1957.

4714.Fvi.Minnie Montez MORTENSEN, born 21Dec 1874 in Parowan, Iron, Utah. She married Franklin Jacob ADAMS 1Jan 1895 in Verdure, Utah. He was born 7May 1872 in Parowan, Iron, Utah. He was the son of William ADAMS and Mary Barbara BOLANG. Minnie died 1Apr 1895 in Bluff, San Juan, Utah, and was buried Apr 1895 in Bluff, San Juan, Utah.

+ 4715.Mvii.Arlington Peter MORTENSEN, born 20Feb 1877, died 30May 1960.

+ 4781.Mviii.Rulon Erastus "Rule" MORTENSEN, born 18Aug 1879, died 17Jul 1960.

+ 4818.Mix.Morten Junius MORTENSEN, born 29Sep 1881, died 28Oct 1963.

+ 4844.Fx.Golda Georgette MORTENSEN, born 7Nov 1883, died 5Apr 1949.

4847.Mxi.Wilford Woodruff MORTENSEN, born 9Mar 1886 in Parowan, Iron, Utah, died in childhood 20Feb 1893 in Sanford, Conejos, Colorado.

+ 4848.Fxii.Pearl Caroline MORTENSEN, born 22Apr 1889, died 6Oct 1970.

Further descendants of Nancy Bean have been deleted from this website, due to a complaint from Kathryn Mortensen Harmer.

If you want this information you will need find it elsewhere. Here are some ideas:

  • Find a copy of the book Some Descendants of John D. Lee (difficult, as it is no longer in print)
  • Buy the information for $5 from
  • Look on an Internet Archive for an older version of this website, before this information was removed.
  • Look in a cache, such as Google's