Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Mary Ann & Lebbeus Coons
Mary Ann and Lebbeus Coons
Lebbeus T. (Thadeus) Coons

1807 - 1872
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  • Born 1807 Plymouth, New York
  • Married to Mary Ann Williamson and Ester Harvey (see text)
  • Baptized 1832
  • Zions Camp 1984
  • Ordained Seventy and called to First Quorum of Seventy 1835
  • Migrated west; Joined Saints in 1865
  • Died 1872 Richfield, Utah

    Libeus or Lebbeus Thadeus Coons, called by family members as "L. T.," a member of Zion's Camp, was born May 13, 1807 at Plymouth, New York, the son of Thomas Coons and Elizabeth Crandall. He married Mary Ann Williamson in Spafford, New York in 1832. On November 10 of that same year he and Mary Ann were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    He became a convert to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the early days of the Church and moved to Church headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio in 1833. Shortly thereafter he was blessed and set apart by the prophet Joseph Smith “...to nurse and heal the sick,” to whom he often brought great blessings and comfort.

    As was the practice of the early 1800s, Brother Coons studied medicine under the direction of a doctor until ready to serve as a physician himself. One of his famous patients was Brigham Young. He continued to serve as a doctor and as a surgeon almost 40 years before his death in Richfield, Utah at the age of 61.

    As a member of Zion's Camp he traveled to Missouri in 1834, and when the first quorum of Seventy was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1835, he was chosen as one of its members, thus entering the ranks of the General Authorities. As the Great Apostasy of 1837 swept Kirtland, he returned to Missouri. Then, as the persecution intensified, he was driven from the state first to Nauvoo and after the Prophet's assassination, to Iowa. While in Nauvoo, he was chosen to be a member of the Prophet Joseph Smith's lifeguard, presumably to provide medical care should it be needed.

    In Iowa L.T. traveled far and wide by carriage tending to the sick in Mills County while it was yet a part of Pottawattamie County, and later when he helped organize Mills County. He was called in January 1848 to serve as Bishop of the Church at Bethlehem and “…the lower area."

    The so-called lower area stretched south from Bethlehem 20 miles to include Plum Hollow, or today’s Thurman, and other branches of the Church. Included in his church duties, before organization of the county, were those of a "Common Judge in Israel" in which he was asked to hear “…all civil cases, cases of difference, debts, immoral conduct, etc.”

    Brother Lebbeus Thaddeus Coons left a rich heritage in Mills County, southwestern Iowa, despite his short stay. He established the little town of Bethlehem in 1846, east across the Missouri River from what today is Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Bethlehem, renamed successively Sharpsburg, Junction City, and East Plattsmouth was the site of a Missouri River Ferry which ran almost continuously from 1850 until 1930. His little daughter, Patience, reportedly was the first child born in Iowa’s Bethlehem, in 1846.

    Six months later, L.T. moved seven miles east of Bethlehem to establish a new town called Coonsville. Like Bethlehem, Coonsville was carefully surveyed with streets running north and south, east and west. Main Street and Broadway, crossing each other in the center of town, were 80 feet wide. All other streets were 60 feet wide. Each block was 336 feet square and divided into only four lots. That was back in the days when gardening was for the dinner table.

    As his new town was being built, Bishop Coons was called to go on mission in the eastern States “…to raise means by donations and public contributions for the purpose of establishing schools in this frontier territory…” L.T. responded, taking his counselor, David Gamet, with him. They visited, among other places, Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, and Syracuse, New York.

    A May 1849 letter, found in the Union Branch (Coonsville) records by researcher Daniel Coons, assigned Bishop Coons to visit, counsel, and preach to his branch in Coonsville, Martindale’s Branch in Bethlehem, Gardiner’s Branch in Plum Hollow (now Thurman), and other branches in Dutch Hollow, Green Hollow, Dawsonburg, and Big Grove (now Oakland, Iowa).

    One may wonder how this busy doctor found the time to volunteer help for others. Before Mills County was carved out of Pottawattamie County in 1851 and legally established, Church leaders (possibly Orson Hyde and counselors in Kanesville/Council Bluffs) called for volunteers to build houses for the poor. L.T. pledged and donated 10 days of labor on those houses.

    L.T. was elected August 18, 1851 in Mills County’s first election to serve as county prosecuting attorney. If he wasn’t busy before, a gang of 30 or 40 men on horseback, with guns, probably Missouri Mobocrats rode into the new county, and kept him busy. They stopped land and property sales, forced courts to close, and jostled and threatened church members on the street.

   Most good members of the Church simply moved out, since they planned to move on to Utah soon anyway. L.T. sent his family on to Utah. But he stayed in Coonsville until late 1853 or early 1854. He then moved 55 miles north to Galland’s Grove to be near two of his married children. and to be near Chany Williamson, brother of L.T.’s wife, Mary Ann. Finally he moved to the mouth of Soldier River on the Missouri. There he farmed and advertised in the Magnolia Republican:

DR. L.T. COONS, Physician and
Surgeon may be found at his home
near the Mouth of the Soldier,
when not away on county calls.

   When members of his extended family moved to Utah in 1864, Elder Coons ended his long stay in Iowa and moved to Utah in 1865.

    Libeus was married to two women, Mary Ann Williamson and Ester Harvey though the records do not indicate whether these marriages were sequential or plural.

    After his arrival in Utah, he resided in a number of places and finally died at Richfield, Utah, July 7, 1872, leaving a wife, and a numerous family of children. He was a kind father, neighbor and friend.


Bibliography
   LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 4, p.689
   "History of Bethlehem, Coonsville, and of Lebbeus Thaddeus Coons,"
   History of the Church, Multiple citations; see index    



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