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The Family File

The Forgotten Missionary
The Story of Elder Ezra James Clark

Bringing the body home

Ezra Thompson Clark wasted no time in bringing his eldest son home to be buried in his beloved Farmington.

If there was any doubt about his anxiety to have closure to his son's tragedy, it was quickly erased early in the spring of 1869 when ET and Edward Stevenson headed east to bring Ezra James' remains home.

The Farmington patriarch didn't even wait long enough for the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which would come the next month, before he had made arrangements to complete his task. It is obvious that the railroad's near completion, however, made it a much easier task to complete.

This small headstone, located behind that of his father, shows the final resting place for Ezra James Clark in the Farmington Cemetery.
Ezra Thompson and his wife's brother left Salt Lake City on April 17 and headed to Chicago via rail and then made their way back to the Empire State. They made the complete round trip from Utah to New York and back in a matter of six days, bringing the casket of his son with them.

Once in New York, Ezra Thompson asked village officials to open the casket believed to house his son so he could identify the remains, before certifying the tragic result of the train ride through the community nine months previous.

E.T. was able to identify the decaying remains by the front teeth, according to an account recorded by Heber Clark.

Once identified, Bros. Clark and Stevenson wasted no time in heading west and back to Zion.

"They left Chicago last Saturday afternoon and arrived at Wasatch on Tuesday afternoon, having been three days and three hours, accomplishing the journey.

The remains of Bro. Ezra J. will be interred at Farmington on Sunday next," the April 23, 1969 Deseret Evening News reported.

When Ezra Thompson brought back his son, they kept the casket in the barn prior to holding a funeral service in his behalf on his eldest son.

Funeral services for EJ were held on April 30, 1869 on a Sunday afternoon and speakers included his Uncle Edward Stevenson, his former mission leader N.H. Felt, Nathan T. Porter and Bishop Hess.

His coffin was carried into the meetinghouse for the service by the Presidents of the Seventies in Farmington.

An account, written by Heber Clark, says that Brigham Young spoke at the funeral and said that Elder Clark was in the spirit world preaching the gospel and doing a good work. It is evident that Pres. Young did not speak at the services and there is no documentation to suggest that he ever spoke directly about the deceased missionary. Newspaper accounts show that Pres. Young was in southern Utah for the entire period of time that Ezra James' body awaited final burial and rites in Farmington. Ezra's mother does indicate that Brigham did say that her son died "with the harness on." 29

29 Stevenson Life History, Vol 1

Forgotten Missionary - Main Page
Bad News Dispels the Excitement of a Summer's Day
The First Clark Born in the New Covenant
Called to Serve
Making his way home
The final hours
Bringing the body home