John Cleminson Jessee-McDannald Home

John James Cleminson

December 28, 1798 (Lancashire, England) - November 28, 1879 (El Monte, California)

  Lydia Lorena------ |       | John McDannald I
     1876-1923 |   | John McDannald II ----------------|    1785-1848
  Rita Beryl------- |   |    1817-1890 | Margaret McMickell
     1878-1966 | David W McDannald ------------|   |    1788-1857
  John S.----------- |    1851-1926 |   | John Henry Cull
     1880-1966 | | | Margaret Cull ----------------|    1794-1821
  Eugene------------ | |      1817-1887 | Mary Ann McDannald
     1884-? |-------- -------------|          1783-1834
  Mary Malinda------ | |     | Thomas C Reeves
     1887-1985 | | | Samuel Reeves ----------------|    1808-c.1880
  Rex R.------------ | | |    1827-1899 | Mary Ann McDannald
     1890-1953 | Lucetta Reeves ------------|        1783-1834
  Gladys Lucetta |    1859-1931 |   | John Cleminson
     1892-1967 |   | Lydia Cleminson ----------------|    1799-1879
  Lynn-------------- |        1836-1925 | Lydia Lightner
     1893-1986 |            1800-1873

From an old tintype. John Cleminson

John James Cleminson was born December 28, 1798, in Lancaster, Lancashire, England. During the war of 1812, he came to the United States, via St. Johns, New Brunswick, with his father, James Cleminson (whose wife had died in England). After a residence of some time in Virginia, the family made their home in Louisville, Kentucky. Upon reaching manhood, John Cleminson, went to Lexington, Lillard (later Lafayette) County, Missouri, then a wilderness. He was engaged in teaching school, then worked as a cabinet-maker and carpenter.

When he was 24 years old, he married Lydia Lightner, 22. The Lightner family were of German origin, and can be traced back to 1683. They were married December 28, 1822, in Galena, Jo Daviess County Illinois, and Lydia always used this marriage date. In 1822, Galena was just a small Indian post, and they were probably married by an itinerant preacher who lost his records as there is no record of this marriage date. A few days later, on January 5, 1823, in Lillard County, Missouri, they had their marriage legally certified, and there is a record of this in the Lafayette County archives. (Lillard was renamed Lafayette County in 1825).

Galena, Il to Lexington, Mo is a distance of 400 miles. How they could travel this distance between Dec. 28, 1822 to Jan. 5, 1823 is a mystery.

Lydia's father is Adam Lightner. In the 1820 census, the Adam Lightner family is located in Huntington County, Pa. Galena, Illinois is 800 miles away, so at some point before 1823, the Lightner family must have migrated this distance from Pennsylvania to Illinois.
In the 1830 Lafayette County census, John Cleminson's family is living close to Mary Lightner, who may be Mary Trout Lightner, widow of Adam.

John and Lydia were still living in Lafayette County in 1830, and by that time, had two girls, Laura and Mary. In the 1830's, the newly formed Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) were recruiting new members in Jackson County, Missouri. Joseph Smith was preaching in those days that Independence, Jackson County, Missouri was the location of the Garden of Eden, and thus the center of the Universe. Many converts were moving to this area. The Cleminson family moved to Independence, Jackson County, before 1833, as their son James was born there August 7, 1833.
Due to many conflicts between the Saints and non-Mormons, the state of Missouri formed Caldwell County as a Mormon area, with the town of Far West, the County Seat.
Sometime after 1833, John and Lydia joined the church and moved to Caldwell County. There is some family history that says John Cleminson was one of the "7 Lights" of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons.

John was involved with the Missouri Mormon war of 1838. There was a lot of blame on both sides for this conflict and there were many killings. At one time John was sent as an emissary from the Mormon side to negotiate with an army coming to Caldwell County which was either going to kill everyone or get them to move out of Missouri. John and Lydia were friends of some of the non-Mormons and were offered a chance to escape the Mormon town of Far West before war started but they decided to stay with their friends. After much negotiation, including the agreement of the Mormons to sell all their lands and leave Missouri, they surrendered. The Mormon leaders, including Joseph Smith, were brought to trial. John disagreed with a secret and violent Mormon group, called the Danites, which had caused most of the problems which led up to the war, and he testified against the Mormon Danites in 1838.

The result of the Missouri Mormon war was a mass migration of most of the Mormons from Missouri to Hancock County, Illinois, where they founded the city of Nauvoo. In 1840, the Cleminsons were still living in Caldwell County. At that time John was 42 and Lydia, 40. Their children were James, 7, Mary J, 16, Laura 15, Lydia, 4 and Diantha, 1.

According to LDS (Mormon) archives, John attempted to reconcile with Joseph Smith. According to their documents, they had moved to Iowa in 1842. Perhaps he was successful, because according to some documents, their son John Jr, was born in Mormon country, Hancock County, Illinois.

LDS Church archives:
Cleminson, John, did clerical work for the Church in Missouri; also served as clerk of the Caldwell County, Missouri circuit court. Sided with dissenters and testified against Joseph Smith at the Richmond hearing in November 1838. Living in Montrose, Iowa in 1842, he wrote the Prophet in an attempt to gain reconciliation: "My Character has been torn to pieces and I [have been] represented as one of the worst of men. Some of this harsh treatment I have deserved, some I have not" (History of the Church, 3:5, 210; John Cleminson to Joseph Smith, May 1842, Ms., LDS Church Archives).

Sometime, between 1840 and 1842, the Cleminson moved with other Mormons to Hancock County, as their son John Cleminson, Jr, was born there on December 8, 1842.

The same problems between Mormons and non-Mormons occurred in Illinois resulting in the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844 and the eventual expulsion of all Mormons from the state and destruction of the Mormon city of Nauvoo. In 1847 most Mormons started leaving Illinois for Utah. However, the Cleminson family had other plans.

In 1850, John formed a Mormon wagon train, and traveled from Illinois to San Diego, California, a trip that took one year. They had two wagons for their family, hiring a driver for the second wagon, Samuel Sylvester Reeves. They arrived in San Diego in July of 1851. The following spring, Samuel and John's daughter Lydia married, April 5, 1852.

John and Lydia Cleminson moved from San Diego to San Bernadino in 1852 to join the new Mormon settlement there. After Brigham Young recalled the Mormons back to Utah in 1857, the Cleminson family moved to El Monte, in Los Angeles County and spent the rest of their lives farming there.

Lydia Lightner Cleminson passed away on August 11, 1873. She was 73 years old and they had been married 51 years.

John Cleminson passed away in El Monte on November 28, 1879, at the age of 81.

John and Lydia were buried in the El Monte Cemetery at 9263 Valley Blvd., Rosemead, CA. As of the year 2008 it is in danger of being bulldozed over by developers.

John Cleminson Grave in El Monte Cemetery

Marriage certificate - John cleminson and Lydia Lightner

1838 Caldwell County, Missouri court testimony by John Cleminson against Mormons

Why the Cleminson family moved to San Bernadino in 1852

Los Angeles 1870's Newspaper articles about John Cleminson

John Cleminson and Lydia Lightner ancestry