The Honeymoon Trail

Just west of a place out in the middle of nowhere on the Utah/Arizona border called Fort Pearce is a old pioneer trail. In this remote place on this mostly forgotten trail are rocks where at a time in the old west travelers left their mark on red stone in wagon wheel grease.

Those marks remain today and can still be read:

Honeymoon Trail

Those written words are “Westover” and “Funk”.

There has to be a connection, right?

Yes. There are several.

~ The St. George Temple ~

In 1877 the St. George Temple was dedicated. It was a huge event for the Westover Family.

Mother Electa Beal Westover, through her sons Edwin and Charles, gathered the family to go through the temple for themselves and for their families.

The St. George Temple was the first completed after the Nauvoo period. Though work had started on the Salt Lake Temple almost as soon as the pioneers arrived in 1847 it was a work in progress for decades.

The Endowment House in Salt Lake City was built for the purposes of “sealing” ordinances for the living and nearly all the Westovers and their extended families had been there for their own weddings.

In January of 1871 the prospect of a temple in St. George was raised by Brigham Young.

The Cotton Mission, known as Dixie and encompassing many small communities around St. George, was struggling and many settlers were wanting to leave. Brigham, frustrated that work on the Salt Lake temple had stalled for 7 years, proposed a temple in St. George as a means of unifying the Saints living there.

There was an immediate enthusiastic response. Work began and continued for several years with contributions from nearly every pioneer family in the area, including the Edwin and Charles Westover families. As the dedication approached in early 1877 everyone in Electa’s family gathered.

St. George Temple

Edwin and family, living in Hamblin, had come to St. George in advance of a new mission call to settle new communities in northern Arizona. Property had been traded, supplies had been gathered and further preparations, which included going through the temple and getting patriarchal blessings, had to be done.

Charles and family had relocated sometime before from Pinto to Washington City, just outside of St. George. Mother Electa lived with them.

Their bishop was a man named Marcus Funk.

~ Charles Westover ~

Charles WestoverAlexander and Electa Westover had four children while building their farm in Ohio and three of them lived to adulthood: Edwin, Charles and Oscar.

All three came west with Electa and she remained close to all three. Edwin, the oldest of the three, farmed next to his brother in the Cottonwood area of the Salt Lake Valley until the early 1860s.

Charles and families were called to the Cotton Mission as part of the original settler group in 1861. His name and original family home shows on the first pioneer map of St. George.

Edwin and families were called to the Cotton Mission in 1862, after living for a brief period in Grantsville near Electa’s sister, Hannah.

Oscar left Utah as a young man and moved west to California, raising a family in Petaluma.

Of the pioneering Westover brothers it was Charles who seemed to be the most well known and well connected.

Charles Westover had a personal relationship with Apostle Erastus Snow.

Erastus Snow

Erastus Snow

As a young single man in 1848, when the Westovers traveled to Winter Quarters, Charles sought Snow out because he heard he was looking to hire someone to drive his family’s team west.

In the course of making those arrangement Charles indicated his desire to be baptized so Erastus Snow baptized him.

For the rest of Snow’s life there would be interactions between him and Charles Westover.

It is assumed that Snow influenced the call of the Westovers to St. George and, of course, he played a central role in the construction and the dedication of the St. George temple.

Charles and his wives spent the rest of their lives in St. George.

That is why it is ironic that Cache Valley – far to the north on the other end of the state – would not only be known as home to Edwin’s posterity. It would also become home to many of Charles’ descendants.

Thanks to Bishop Marcus Funk.

~ Marcus Funk ~

Marcus Espersen Funk was born in Denmark in 1842 and came to America in 1857 with his parents. His parents, Dederick and Kirsten, joined the Church after missionary work was established in their area of Denmark by…Apostle Erastus Snow.

They came to Utah and found farming opportunities in the tiny Cache Valley community of Richmond.

While in Richmond, young Marcus became known for his ability to handle horses. Throughout his life, wherever he lived, he was known for his fine horses and for the care and gentle treatment he gave them. Eventually he became a teamster for William B. Preston, who was the chief founder of Logan, the town mayor, and bishop (all by the age of 29). The job would eventually change Marcus’ life for good when he answered to call to drive one of his teams on a “down-and-back”.

It was on such a drive in 1864, on a return trip, that Preston’s company helped a pioneer handcart group on their westward trek. In that group was a girl who caught Marcus’ eye. By the time they all arrived in Salt Lake, they were engaged.

Not many years later Marcus and his wife were called to move their family south to the Cotton Mission by Brigham Young. They settled in Washington City, assigned there by Erastus Snow, and became embedded in Church and civic leadership. In time, Marus would serve as both bishop and mayor.

Marcus Funk

At the time of the dedication of the St. George temple, the Charles Westover family and the Marcus Funk family each had several children living with them.

In 1877 Lewis Burton Westover was 9 years old. Eliza Johanna Funk was 8.

In 1889 they married. In the St. George temple.

Around that time Marcus Funk was called yet again by the Church to settle a new area in Sanford, Colorado. He was again called as Bishop.

The newlywed couple of Lewis and Eliza followed him to Colorado. The Lewis Burton Westover family would stay there until Marcus Funk and family left – in 1909.

~ The Honeymoon Trail ~

When the St. George temple was dedicated it wasn’t just a big deal to the Westovers and Funks and other in the region known as Dixie. Mormons from everywhere came to St. George to go through the temple and they did so for years, at least until the next temple opened in Manti.

An unwritten chapter in the life of Edwin Westover belongs to that of his Southern Utah family. Edwin was sure to communicate to his wife Sarah Jane that their entire family was called to settle in North Arizona. He wanted her to continue on to fulfill that mission, which she did.

The Westovers, under Sarah Jane’s direction and that of Edwin’s eldest son, Edwin Lycurgus Westover, grew the generations of the Westover family in Arizona in an epic and righteous way.

As they prospered, met spouses and married they had to travel the Honeymoon trail to St. George to get to the temple.

Honeymoon Trail

For better than 30 years this trail was well known to newlyweds.

Ironically, the newlyweds in Lewis Burton Westover – a grandson to Electa Westover (who was a temple worker in St. George) – and Eliza Johanna Funk were living in Washington City when they married in the St. George temple. It was only after they married and were living in Sanford, Colorado that they traveled the Honeymoon Trail and put their names on the rock.

~ A Latter-day Westover-Funk Connection ~

This might or might not be something, I don’t know yet. I only discovered the above story in the past few days.

My own move to Cache Valley happened in 2012 when a change in jobs allowed my wife and I to reconsider where we were living and raising our children. We felt we needed a change.

We looked all over Utah but were drawn to the little town of Richmond after one of our daughters expressed a desire to attend high school in nearby Smithfield. We went there, found a house and it just felt right.

This move had everything to do with my family history awakening. A short time after we moved we got called to serve on trek, which would include two of our daughters.

We went and I had some powerful experiences in learning all about my pioneer ancestors.

Our stake president, in the early morning devotional on the day we left on trek, promised us that if we desired a spiritual experience we need only to pray for it. I did and I had several.

Upon our return, I emailed him and told him of what happened to me on trek. His note was short but gracious. And he signed it with this post script: “Oh, Brother Westover, by the way, my mother is a Westover”.

I looked her up and she is Zaetell Westover, a daughter of Lewis Burton, and thus another descendent of Charles and Electa.

I have scoured the cemeteries local to me here in Cache Valley. I visited them often enough I can trace many familiar names, even people I am not related to. One of those names in Funk, which is prominent still in Richmond.

My children had friends from our time living in Richmond with the last name of Funk.

Boy, do I have a story to tell them.

Jeff Westover
Jeff Westover

Husband, father, Latter-day Saint, 11th generation American, and web geek currently residing in Smithfield, Utah. Please visit my website at JeffWestover.com

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