Electa’s sister, Hannah Beal Brown, found herself unmarried sometime after arriving in Salt Lake. That changed in March of 1852. She married Aaron Sceva, becoming the plural wife of her son-in-law.
Aaron Sceva is a man seemingly without a known history. Family Search has little about him and even his obituary published in the Deseret News in September of 1886 was glowing in praise but frustratingly short on details.
From the surviving Westover histories we know that he was there in Ohio and came west with them the whole way. But once he got to Utah, Sceva seems to disappear until the 1850 census when he shows up two doors down from Edwin — and he was living with Adeline Brown and her son from a previous marriage. Adeline was Aunt Hannah Beal’s daughter.
The circumstances and the timing of the marriage between Aaron and Adeline is just unknown. FamilySeach.org tags it as happening in 1852, but obviously the census declares otherwise rather conclusively.
Odd to many, however, is what happened on March 27, 1852 when Aaron married Adeline’s mother, Aunt Hannah. On the surface, this seems to be a marriage arrangement common to early plural marriages in Utah. Hannah was 60 years old by this point and clearly needed support. Aaron was by all measures a faithful and productive man and it was not uncommon for men in his position to support the elderly mothers of their wives.
But Aaron Sceva clearly left a family in Ohio. He had originally married in 1835 and had four children with her over the course of the next decade. In fact, his youngest was born in 1846, just two years before he came west with the other Ohio Saints.
It’s difficult to get the whole story because Aaron’s history — in fact, his life — is not embraced by his children or grandchildren, if he had any.
To find more about him we turned to an accidental find – the story of James W. Bay, a man listed as being a traveling partner to the Westovers in 1848 and perhaps even a cousin to Sarah Jane Burwell (that’s a claim in a written history, but not a fact we have actually been able to confirm yet).
James W. Bay has a wonderful history available to us. In fact, in a book titled “Utah Biographical Index of Pioneers” published in 1950 we find the history of James Bay written by a grandson.
James Bay converted to the Church in 1840. He was single. Guess who his influencing missionary was? The same Elder Goodale who taught Hannah and later Electa while they lived in Ohio.
His history and other recollections of his life by friends who knew James Bay describe him as kind of a religious fanatic. Bay describes his pre-trek experience, which included being jilted by the love of his life, who rejected Mormonism. He came west with the Brigham Young Company and settled into Salt Lake under the employ of Erastus Snow. He had to know Charles Westover pretty well then, right?
In fact, his great desire after living in Salt Lake for about 18 months was to be called on a mission back to Ohio so that he could try to teach his family. He got his wish and he return to Ohio on a mission, writing letters back to Charles in Utah about the business of taking care of Erastus Snow’s place.
While on this mission he pays a visit not only to his family but also to the former Mrs. Sceva – who receives him graciously. She does not convert, as she had long since rejected Mormonism, but she did not treat him poorly or speak ill of Aaron Sceva in any way.
During this part of James Bay narrative he talks about the conversion of Aaron Sceva. Sceva had a visionary conversion after reading the Book of Mormon and insisted on baptism as soon as Bay could accommodate him. Bay did baptize and then ordained him an Elder and sent him on a mission. Sceva literally dropped everything and began to preach everywhere he could – starting with his own home. He kept teaching and just never stopped. In fact, in coming to Salt Lake, and several years later, Sceva enthusiastically accepted mission calls.
Even in the conversion stories of Electa and Hannah, Aaron Sceva is described as singing songs of praise as he paced the floor before the missionaries would speak. The Deseret News, in their obituary for Sceva, said “In him was the saying fulfilled of leaving wife and children, for the Gospel’s sake.”
James Bay return from Ohio seemingly a failure in his efforts to convert family and former neighbors. His history notes that his former girlfriend died not long after he left Ohio. So he went home and did her temple work for her, having her sealed to him because “I still love her so”.
James Bay is a man we want to investigate more. He appears to have kept good records and his posterity, as well as his contemporaries held him in the highest regard. The same can be said of Aaron Sceva.
James W. Bay, later in life.