Articles published in the Blue Mountain Panorama

This blog was created to preserve digitally, articles written by Janet Wilcox for the Blue Mountain Panorama. This newspaper is published in Blanding, Utah by Neil and Becky Joslin. By publishing digitally, more photographs can be added, and your comments and corrections can be quickly noted. Thanks for reading my articles in the newspaper, as well as on the Internet. If you have ideas for stories, please contact me at

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More Faces behind Hole-in-the-Rock: The Lillywhite Family

by Janet Wilcox

It’s always a great joy to meet someone you’ve heard of or read about, and for those doing family history research, this meeting often comes in the form of a photograph.  Such a meeting occurred this past week, when Linda Wright rediscovered family photos of Joseph and Maryellen Elizabeth Lillywright, two Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers who had been “lost” to local history for some time.  Fortunately, their own descendants knew about them and the photos had been stashed away.
    The photo above was taken after the Lillywhite family moved to Mexico, and several members of the family attended the Juarez Academy.  The photo was probably taken in 1910 or 1911.  There maybe other ancestors of San Juan County people in this photo,  as Juarez Academcy was the only school for high school age students in the Mormon Colonies.  Those identified so far are: 2 Maryellen Elizabeth Willden (Lillywhite), 3. Her son Charles Willden Lillywhite, 7. (E.D. Brown?), 10 Major Brown, 11 Annie Lillywhite (Brown) 13. Irene Lillywhite (Brown)
Anyone who may recognize others in the photo, please contact Linda Wright 678-2663 or Janet Wilcox 678-2851.

Joseph Lillywhite and Maryellen Willden were married 5 Dec 1867 in Beaver, Beaver, Ut which is where they were living when they received the call to go to San Juan.  At that time they had 5 young children.

 Joseph Lillywhite is mentioned as being in a side exploration group consisting of Edward and Platt Lyman to determine a reconnaissance of the area, arriving eventually at what is now known as Clay Crossing of the San Juan.  Here they found approx. 200 acres of level land, heavily timbered with cottonwood trees, but it wasn't large enough to encourage the planting of a settlement.

Maryellen Lillywhite
They arrived in Bluff with the rest of the initial group in April 1880, but sometime later that spring, Joseph and Maryellen loaded their equipment and household effects and headed for Alpine, Apache County, Arizona traveling by way of Fort Defiance and Wingate (both US Army posts) where needed supplies could be purchased and then headed to Alpine, Az.  Joseph suffered an  untimely death, Jan. 19, 1888, leaving his wife and large family almost destitute. 
Charles Lillywhite
Their son Charles (who was 5 years old at the time of Hole in the Rock)  and his brothers worked hard to provide for the family, eventually developing a successful road construction business. 

 The summer of 1906 after completing a few profitable road contracts, Charles and his wife Margaret Copeland, and his mother determined to move to Mexico where they established a flour mill at Agua Prieta.  The family lived in Morales and six children were born to them in Mexico In 1906 Charles replaced Orson Pratt Brown as bishop and served in that position for 6 years. The Lillywhite brothers’ business was just going great, until the Mexican revolution closed their doors, and they were advised to move back to the US in 1912.

Another serindiptity tidbit discovered since the series on Hole-in-the-Rock story ran in the Panorama, involves Jeri Osborn's relative.  While reading the story in the Panorama about the amputation of Kumen Jone's leg, she recognized that Dr. Kent of Mesa who did the amputation, was her relative. Thus our lives continue to interconnect, one with another.