Written by Harriet Jane Lamb Stradling
Lisbon was born in Macedonia, Wayne County, New York, on July 27, 1827. He was baptized in Livingston County in 1835. Lisbon was the eldest son of Abel and Almira Lamb. He was destined to travel thousands of miles in his lifetime, much of it on foot. During his childhood, the family moved from New York to Ohio, then to Missouri and Illinois. They were finally driven from the United States into Iowa Territory.
When Colonel James Allen’s three companies of U.S. Dragoons marched into the Camps of Israel, the people were panic-stricken thinking they were going to be mobbed again. Colonel Allen explained that he had come to offer five hundred of their men an opportunity to volunteer for a year’s service in the army in the war with Mexico.
Private Lisbon Lamb, eighteen years old, was in Company D, and among the youngest members of the famous Mormon Battalion. They were sent more than 2,000 miles to make a wagon road across the Great American Desert to the Pacific Ocean. "History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry. Half of it has been through a wilderness where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts where, for want of water, there is no living creature. Thus, marching half- naked and half-fed we have discovered and made a road of great value to our country." --Lieut. Col. P. St. Geo. Cook.
Before the Battalion members left for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to be outfitted, the Saints gave them a farewell ball. Brigham Young counseled them to refrain from swearing, and to be neat, clean, courteous, and chaste. He also told them to live their religion, remember their prayers, and to be the best soldiers in the service of their country.
The doctor who accompanied them is best remembered for his seeming desire to destroy these "Mormons." He would give them heavy dosages of calomel and arsenic. Lisbon later told his children about his experience with the man. Being ill he was given some pills, but did not take them, being strongly impressed not to do so. Later he learned that the pills were deadly poisonous.
At Santa Fe, New Mexico, after a long and grueling journey, Lisbon was assigned to the Pueblo Detachment under Captain Brown. This group consisted of about ninety sick and wounded who were sent to Pueblo, Colorado to spend the winter. The rest of the Battalion continued on across Arizona to California under great hardships.
The Pueblo Detachment also suffered much, They had to travel over two hundred miles of very rough country, with sick, worn-out oxen and on half rations. Lisbon not only served as a guard, but he was an excellent marksman. Lisbon was much appreciated for the fresh meat he brought to help keep them from starving. Several of the party died on the way, and others at Pueblo. This was a temporary settlement of some Saints from Mississippi who were making their way to Salt Lake Valley. Houses of cottonwood logs were formed into a stockade, and the Battalion members spent the winter hunting for food and drilling. At some time during his army service, Lisbon was injured. He was compelled to walk with a cane in later years.
Early in the spring of 1847, the Detachment started north for Fort Laramie, hoping there to have word of the Pioneer Company Brigham Young had planned to lead to the Valley. As they neared this territory, Captain Brown, Lisbon, and several others rode ahead in pursuit of thieves who had stolen part of their horses. They went on to Green River, arriving there early on the morning of the Fourth of July.
Meanwhile, the pioneers had left Fort Laramie and were in their third and last camp on the Green River. They had spent three days of July ferrying across that stream. Early Sunday, the Fourth, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards rode back to the ferry with five men who were returning east to meet their families. On the opposite bank were thirteen men. Mutually great was their joy when the two groups recognized each other—for it was the first word the Pioneer Company had received of the Battalion. The soldiers (Lisbon included) were most happy to make connections with President Young’s Company.
They reported the main part of the Detachment with the Mississippi Saints to be about a week’s journey behind them. They continued on with President Young’s group, arriving at Fort Bridger three days later. Here they stopped to repair wagons and re-tire wheels before attempting the rough journey over the mountains ahead. Lisbon’s services were welcome here, as he was skilled in this line. Jim Bridger had much to say of interest about the trail ahead and the conditions of the country into which they were going. Lisbon also listened to the stories told by Samuel Brannan, who had joined the group on the Green River. He had come to bring tithing form the Saints who had sailed around Cape Horn to California. Brannan tried to persuade Brigham Young to lead the Church to California instead of stopping in Utah. The incident he recounted of meeting the survivor of the tragic Donner Party, who had passed over this same route the year before, especially impressed Lisbon. The one remaining man had stayed alive by eating his companions after they starved to death.
It was no easy thing to take the wagon train over the mountains and down the canyons, but the Company entered the Valley on the 24th of July. On that same day they diverted a stream of water from the canyon, and plowed, and planted potatoes. The main group of the Detachment and the Mississippi Saints arrived on the 29th of July. The Battalion men helped plant fifty-three acres of grain and potatoes that day and the next. The "city" now consisted of about 400 people living in wagons.
Brigham Young met with the Pueblo Detachment, greeting them with affection. He related the great blessings which had come to the Saints through the sacrifices made by the Battalion. He gave them advice on their future affairs and how to treat the Indians. They, in turn, advised the Saints to build adobe houses, such as they had seen in the Mexican settlements.
Lisbon soon had opportunity to make use of the advice about the Indians. He was invited with others to go to their camp to eat and smoke the pipe of peace. It was not until later that he discovered that the large, long kernels of "corn" served to him were roasted grasshoppers!
On July 31, the soldiers built a large bowery of branches, in which to hold meetings. Their next assignment was to erect the Old Fort, a stockade in which the people might be protected from the Indians, as well as the weather, as the tribes were beginning to quarrel among themselves.
Samuel Brannan soon left for California. Captain Brown went with him to collect the Battalion’s pay. Their year of service having been completed. Part of this money was used to buy for the Church a ranch that is now the city of Ogden, Utah.
Attention was next turned to on-coming pioneer companies then on the plains and the Saints who would be coming later. Three companies of men were organized to go back to Winter Quarters, Iowa, to assist these people. The first group was under Ezra T. Benson, and the third under Brigham Young. Lisbon was in the second group. It consisted mainly of Battalion men, led by Shadrach Roundy and Tunis Rappleyee. This Second Company left for the east on August 16 and 17 of 1847. They first had the pleasure of an excursion to the Great Salt Lake for a swim the Saturday before.
Lisbon was assigned to the First Ten of the Second Division of Company Two under Captain Roundy. William Clayton, who composed the hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints," was in this group. Lisbon started out in his wagon. It was Brother Clayton’s responsibility to record the happenings of the trip, the mileage, and the weather. It is to him that we are indebted for this portion of Lisbon’s history.
On September 1 they met a wagon train between South Pass and Fort Laramie. In it was Captain Roundy’s family. He went back to the Valley with them. John A. Smith was appointed Captain in his place.
The First Ten had five wagons with two oxen to each, and about ten horses. Lisbon was somewhat more fortunate than most others. He had his rifle and some powder and shot. Rations were equally distributed—each man receiving eight pounds of flour, nine pounds of meal, and a few beans.
The meat supply was very low on September 3, but by nightfall Lisbon had killed a buffalo, which all shared. It had snowed all day and continued for some days following. By the time the weather cleared on the ninth of September, trouble began with the Indians. Each man had to stand guard four hours at night, several at a time. Despite this measure, on the eleventh of September, the Sioux stole about seventeen horses.
Buffalo country had not yet been reached as planned because of the delays caused by storms and time spent trying to recover the horses, so their larder was now depleted. All the flour and breadstuff was gone and the entire company literally faced starvation. Brother Clayton records that if it had not been for the steady aim of Lisbon and others like him, they would surely have starved to death at this time. Six men were chosen by the captains to go ahead and try to get to Winter Quarters to have bread and beans sent to the companies. On the same day that this party left, Lisbon Lamb, Lewis Barney, and John Morton volunteered to go to a distance to the east to hunt buffalo. They killed five buffalo cows and one bull. They were divided among the three companies.
Having by now recovered some of the horses, the Company again moved on. (The Sioux, on being apprehended, explained that they had taken them by mistake, thinking they belonged to their enemies, the Comanches.) Brother Clayton records: "About this time we came to buffalo country and Lisbon and I must have seen 20,000 buffalo today. We had great difficulty making our way through the great herds safely. This happened only two days after we were starving for want of them."
October 8 was wet with snow. To make matters worse, the Comanches raided the First Ten’s camp, which was ahead of the others. "They were a determined lot, driving off four oxen and Jackson Redding’s horse only after they rendered Brother Lamb immobil." They also stole Lisbon’s skinning knife and a knife from John Peacock. After regaining their senses, the boys (for most of them were between 20 and 25 years of age) took pursuit of the thieving Indians, retrieving the horses and one ox. The next day they found another ox caught by his horns in the cottonwoods and willows near Grand Island in the Platte River.
Soon after passing the Big Burn (where there had been a great prairie fire at the time the Pioneers were westward bound), Lisbon, William Clayton, William Empey, and five others went on ahead on horseback. They arrived in Winter Quarters on October 12—among the first to return from Salt Lake Valley. Lisbon’s powder and shot were almost gone, so his worldly goods consisted of his rifle and the ragged uniform on his back, as he met once again with his family. It had been one year, three months, and sixteen days since he had marched away with the Mormon Battalion.
It is said, and there are some records to attest to it, that Lisbon made other trips to the Valley from the Missouri River, going in ’48 and ’49 as a "provider" to pioneer company, because he was an excellent shot with the rifle. Then on Jun 12, 1850, he and the rest of Abel’s family left Kanesville with the Johnson Company of Pioneers. This was his last trip across the plains to Utah. Here he was employed for some time with his father as a cooper, and where he also worked at wagon and carriage making.
Sometime after the Lambs arrived in the Valley, a beautiful girl named Sarah Elenor Brown crossed the plains. She had been born in Vinalhaven, Maine. In 1840, when the family was on the way to join the Saints, her father and some of the children died of cholera on the banks of the Sangmoin River in Illinois, leaving her, her mother, and a brother. The local people were unfriendly to the "Mormons," and so would not help them in their plight. They buried their loved ones and moved on. When they reached Nauvoo they were assisted by Wilford Woodruff.
Later, to help support the family, Sarah found employment as a waitress at an inn or tavern house near the jail in Carthage. She was working there when the Prophet Joseph Smith was brought there and imprisoned by his enemies. The day before he was martyred many of the mob came into the tavern to make their plans and bolster up their courage with drink Anti-Mormon feeling was running high. A man brandishing a pistol threatened Sarah with death if she would not deny her religion, but she said, "I am a Mormon." The drunkened mob would not let him kill her, saying she was too pretty to die, but they tried to get her to renounce her faith. They made her leave the tavern and she went back to Nauvoo, very frightened and upset. She warned the brethren of the plans to kill the prophet. All her life she vividly recalled what the mobsters had told her they were going to do to "Joe Smith".
Sarah was very popular with the young men. Many of them wanted to marry her for her beauty and sweetness of character, but she was destined to walk across the plains and become the wife of the young rifleman, Lisbon Lamb.
Two sons, Don Lisbon and Albert Marion, were born to them in Salt Lake City. The young couple then made their home in a little house in Lamb’s Canyon, and Lisbon worked with his father.
When the Saints moved south at the approach of Johnston’s Army, Lisbon and Sarah remained in the canyon to serve as some of the "lookouts." It was their duty to apply the torch to Salt Lake City if the troops had entered the Valley. Sarah was soon left to care for her babies alone, as Lisbon joined Lot Smith’s Raiders and went to help forestall the entry of the soldiers.
As Governor of the Territory, Brigham Young proclaimed martial law, and mobilized the Nauvoo Legion to cope with the threatened invasion. This allowed time for Captain Van Vliet to return to his superiors and President Buchanan in Washington and thereby prove false the charges made by the enemies of the saints that the "Mormons" were rising in rebellion against the United States.
The Legion prepared to block Echo Canyon, should the troops penetrate that far. Major Lot Smith’s Rangers took part in daring exploits carried on to delay their approach. They met baggage trains, disarmed the escorts, burned the supply wagons, stampeded army cattle, and set on fire the grass on which the horses and mules were to have subsisted. In all this they endeavored to make their few numbers appear like many, and also careful followed President Young’s instructions to avoid taking life.
In the late fall, General Johnston arrived with more troops and supplies and reinforced the discouraged soldiers. A determined march was begun. Fierce winds and snowstorms set in and they suffered much in the fifteen days it took to march the forty miles to Fort Bridger, which they found burned by the Raiders. The supply was also burned, so the army went into winter quarters, giving up reaching the Valley until spring.
Meanwhile, Colonel Thomas Kane in Washington had interceded in behalf of the "Mormons" and was sent by President Buchanan as mediator to settle the difficulty. Although not well, he sailed around South America, up the coast to California, and then traveled overland to Utah to meet with General Johnston and the new Governor of the Territory, Governor Cummings. Through his intercession and the fairness of the new governor and his wife, the troubles were eventually alleviated and the people returned to their homes.
Shortly after being reunited with his family, Lisbon moved them to Farmington. This gave his children opportunity for schooling. Here he lived in the Jacob Miller house and next door to Lot Smith. He continued his trade as cooper, getting timber from the Hardscrabble and Farmington Canyons, at the head of which he and his sons and some other men built and operated a sawmill. They furnished the ties for part of the track of the Utah Central Railroad in 1869. Some of the timber used in the tunnels of the railroad in Weber Canyons came from his mill. He and his sons built their own homes of adobe and wood. They never became wealthy, but always had enough to eat. He sometimes worked as a carpenter, building barns. He also made brooms and even candy. But all of his life he was an outdoor man.
In 1862 Lisbon and Sarah had a little daughter, Mary Jane, born to them. Later, he took as a second wife, Sobrina Smith, by whom he had six children. The two families had separate apartments in the same house, and the two women met life’s hardships and joys together. Lisbon died at the age of fifty-three, when the second family was quite young.
Sobrina was a hard worker, doing washings and knitting to help earn the living. Sarah lived to be eight-four, and in her later years received a pension of $8.00 per month as widow of a veteran.
Lisbon’s red sandstone marker in the Farmington cemetery reads: