Jesse Newton Lemmon was born on April 2, 1871, at Parowan, Iron County, Utah. At the time of his birth, the family consisted of his father, Alumbee Lemmon, his mother, Lydia Ann Applegate Lemmon, and Isaac Lemmon, then 18; Mary Alice, then 15; Frances Matian, then 6. Alumbee and Lydia Ann had had three other children; Alfred, born October 28, 1858, and who died when he was three years old, September 28, 1862. Minnie Jane, who was born October 11, 1861 and died 14 months later February 15, 1863. These two children had been born at Nebraska City, Otoe County, Nebraska. The third child who died was Alumbee James, who was born at Parowan on February 3, 1868 and died April 6, 1868, at the age of two months. Jesse was born almost three years to the day after Alumbee James' death.
The family background was the usual one found in the lives of the pioneers living at that period in Southern Utah. Jesse's grandfather, John Lemmon, Sr. was a convert to the Mormon Church. John was born June 13, 1780 in Orange County, North Carolina. About the year 1803 he married Priscilla Abbott in Sumner County, Tennessee. However, Priscilla was born in Rockingham County, North Carolina, the 16th of November 1785. John and Priscilla resided at Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee for 19 years. During this time they had eleven children born to them. Alumbee Lemmon, Jesse's father, was the eleventh child, born March 2, 1823 at Gallatin, Sumner County Tennessee. In the year 1824 when Alumbee was a year old, they moved to Bloomfield, Green County, Indiana. There, on August 12, 1831, John was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and ordained an Elder, by Samuel H. Smith. This was about six months after Alumbee's 8th birthday.
In the year 1832 John moved to Jackson County, Missouri, and was driven out in 1833. From there John took his family into Clay County, Missouri and was again driven out in 1835. Alumbee at this time was 12 years old. From Clay County, Missouri the family moved to David County, Adam-Ondi Ahman. There they made a farm, and John became a member of the High Council of that Stake of Zion. However, they were driven out in the fall of 1836. They stopped at Caldwell County, Missouri, but were forced to move on in the dead of winter, and arrived at Quincy, Adams County, Illinois in March 1839. This was the period when the Mormons were suffering such terrible persecution from the Missouri mobs and the Lemmon family was no exception to the trials and tribulations undergone by the Saints at that time. Alumbee's 16th birthday had just passed when his family took up residence in Quincy, Illinois. In 1843, when he was 20 years old, Alumbee went to Nauvoo, Illinois to help in building up that city, and to help protect it in time of trouble. In the years between 1843 and 1846, he endured many trying scenes and hardships. In November or December 1845, he was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Elder Ezra T. Benson, and was confirmed, and ordained an Elder by him. During the winter of 1845 under Hosea Stout, Chief of Police of Nauvoo, Alumbee assisted in guarding the Temple and City. His family evidently continued to live at Quincy, Illinois, as his father, John died at Quincy in 1846, from the hardships and exposures he had received from so many drivings, and all of them in the winter season. For this reason, his name was recorded on the Church records as a Martyr to the cause of truth, by Elder George A. Smith.
When the Saints began their march to the Great Salt Lake Valley, Alumbee was 21 or 22 years of age, and single. He was chosen as one of the Captains to take the Companies across the plains. He made the trip several times. (Mary Alice, his daughter states he made six trips.)
The records available in southern Utah to the family at this time (1951) does not make clear just when Alumbee's mother and brothers and sisters came to Utah. Mary Alice, says that James Lemmon, Alumbee's brother had lived in the Dixie Country for two years when Alumbee and Peter and their families arrived. Jesse says that his father had three brothers living in Utah, Peter, James and John.
Alumbee evidently made several trips across the plains to Great Salt Lake between the ages of 22 and 25. On August 13, 1848, he married Lydia Ann Applegate at Louisiana, Pike County, Missouri. Lydia Ann was from St. Charles, St.' Clare County, Missouri, a town near St. Louis, where she was born September 25, 1830. Her father was Milton Applegate and her mother Hane Pruett. Alumbee and Lydia Ann were married two years when Alumbee returned to Utah in 1850. He remained a year and then returned to Missouri. The family evidently started West, but did not go far along the Mormon Trail. Isaac Lemon, their first child, was born June 10, 1853 at Austin, Freemont County, Iowa. This is just across the border from the state of Missouri. By 1856 they had moved along westward as far as Nebraska City, Otoe County, Nebraska. Here there next three children were born, Mary Alice, Alfred, and Minnie Jane.
Mary Alice states that during all these years her mother, Lydia Ann, did not know that Alumbee was a Mormon. Finally, Alumbee decided to move on westward, and started traveling with his brother Peter Lemmon, his wife, and four children, together with Lydia Ann and his own three children.
Lydia Ann thought they were going to California to the gold diggings. They were traveling a few days behind a company of Mormon emigrants, and Mary Alice, who was six at the time, remembered plainly one camp made when she saw the Mormons for the first time. She says, "Alumbee wanted his children, Mary Alice, and her brother, to go with him to the emigrant camp after supper. Not knowing her father was a Mormon, she was very frightened that they might steal her." Another instance which was clear in her memory was the first buffalo killed by the Company. In her words, "I was equally as frightened (as with the Mormons) and the Mormon Doctrine is still a big buffalo to the people of the world and they never will understand it until they humble themselves in the faith and gain the testimony."
In 1862, Alumbee, Lydia Ann and their three children, Isaac, Mary Alice and Minnie Jane arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the record of Alfred's death as of the 28th of September 1862, just one month short of his fourth birthday. We do not know where he was buried, so do not know if his death occurred before or after the family left Nebraska, or while on the journey. At Salt Lake City, Lydia Ann evidently discovered that Alumbee was a Mormon, as the record states that she was baptized in February, 1863. This same month, Minnie Jane died at the age of 14 months.
Alumbee and Peter continued their journey with their families to the Dixie Country where his brother, James Lemmon, had lived for two years.
According to Angus M. Woodbury in his "History of Southern Utah and It's National Parks..”as early as 1854, Brigham Young had inquired about the possibilities of building a road in the valley (of the Virgin) from Ceder City. The lower Virgin was first settled at Washington, Santa Clara, Toquerville, St. George, etc. Virgin was settled in 1858 by settlers from Ceder City. "On December 6, 1858 they began building a road over the Hurricane Fault below Toquerville and drove their wagons in the Virgin on the 20th, over a route since known as the "Johnson Twist." (Woodbury)
Over the "Johnson Twist" had gone James Lemmon and his family, probably with the group headed by Phillip Elingensmith in 1860. Settlements which were established during these years, were Virgin, Old Grafton, and Adventure, (between Grafton and Rockville). "Adventure was a small place with limited prospects for expansion by just about it was a much larger tract of land requiring more extensive irrigation. A townsite was selected on the bench high above the river, and at a meeting held at Old Grafton on December 13, 1861 it was decided to name the new townsite Rockville because of the many boulders along the foot of the hill where it was located."
"Of those who went up the river above Adventure, three families stopped at the forks of the Virgin at a place afterword called Northop. The settlers were hardly located when a stormy period began. The Virgin became a raging torrent and at least twice the great floods washed out the dams, filled the ditches, etc. In 1862 the new townsites were located and Old Grafton was abandoned. At the forks of the river at Northop, a ditch was built by James Lemon (Lemmon) and others for use during 1863." (From Woodbury's History).
Thus, we find Alumbee and Peter arriving at Northop, Washington County, Utah where their brother James had begun to carve out a home from the rough wilderness which comprises the Valley of the Virgin. This spot is now approximately marked by two wide parking spaces on the side of the road leading to Zion National Park. Thousands of tourists each year park their cars almost on the exact spot to view the wonders of the scene lying before them of the massive "temples and towers of the Virgin". "The sense of awe awakened today by such inspiring spectacles of nature's handiwork appears to have been largely lacking in the hard working pioneers who spent all their energy in wringing a meager existence from the wilderness." (Woodbury).
Alumbee and Lydia Ann apparently remained in Northop past April, 1865, as their third daughter and fifth child, Frances Marian, was born there April 25, 1865. Their life in southern Utah, from this point on, is rather vague, as no written record was kept, with the exception of recording of birth dates of the children. Jesse does not recall either his father or mother making much mention of these early days of their life. We do have record of Lydia Ann's endowment and sealing to her husband, Alumbee, at the Endowment House at Salt Lake City on April 28, 1866. Also a record of the birth of Alumbee James at Parowan, Iron County, February 3, 1868 and his death two months later on April 6, 1868. Thus, Alumbee James and Jesse Newton were born under the Covenant, and whether the other children were sealed to Alumbee and Lydia Ann at the time of the endowments, has not yet been verified by this branch of the family (March, 1951). Most of the foregoing, giving a background of Jesse's family has been obtained from a history written by Mary Alice Lemmon Webb, who was 15 years Jesse's senior. Since Jesse was the youngest in the family, with his brothers and sisters practically grown when he was born, it is not surprising that he knew little of the hardships which the family endured in the earlier pioneering days.
When interviewed regarding his early life Jesse said that his mother was living at Parowan, and his father at Pioche, Nevada, when he was born. Alumbee had obtained a job running a grain store and lumber yard at Pioche. Issac, his son, went out to Pioche and took care of the store, while Alumbee returned to Parowan to be with Lydia Ann at the time of Jesse's birth.