The following is a history written by Urban’s granddaughter, Nellie Rymer, using information from Urban’s daughters, Mary E. Hanks and Rosa M. Lazenby.
Urban Van Stewart was a Utah Pioneer of 1847. He was born November 9, 1817, at Overton County, Tennessee, the Son of William Stewart and Elizabeth Van Hooser.
When he was five years of age he moved with his mother to Madison Co., Illinois (as his father and mother had previously separated), where he lived until 1835. He went to Missouri where he, as a convert to "Mormonism", was baptized July 15, 1836, by Seymour Brunson in Log Creek, near Far West, Missouri. He was married in the same place to Lydia Gage Jacobs in 1837. At this time the mob was very hostile and by the advice of the Prophet Joseph Smith the family moved into Far West where father stood guard during those turbulent times.
In the spring of 1839, he shared the exodus with the Saints from Missouri and went to Quincy, Illinois.
In 1840 he located on Sugar Creek, Iowa, where his house and everything he had but the running gears of his wagon and a cow were destroyed by fire.
In the spring of 1841 he moved to Nauvoo, working a great deal of the time on the temple quarry getting rock and working on the temple too. He was one of the temple guards for nearly a year. He also guarded the home of the Prophet. I have heard my father say he had stood guard the forepart of the night and had just reached home on that memorable night the Prophet was taken out and tarred and feathered.
In 1843 Father and his brother Levi were called on a mission to southern Illinois but were recalled shortly after on the account of the death of their mother and father's little son, Henry. He took part in the trials and incidents in and around Nauvoo.
In 1845 he was ordained a Seventy by Daniel S. Miles. He was ordained a Lesser Priest in 1837. At the time of the exodus in 1846 he gave the deed to his house and lot to the Church and traveled west and located temporarily with his co-religionists at Winter Quarters, on the west bank of the Missouri River. He went up the river to what was called Brigham's Farm and helped to put in crops.
In June, 1847, he left for Great Salt Lake Valley, where he arrived in September, 1847. He brought provisions for 18 months, together with farming tools, seed, grain, bedding and clothing for a family of four in one wagon.
Father took part in the White Mountain Mission and helped to put in crops in Clover Valley, now in Nevada. This place was afterwards given up to the Indians. Father endured the hardships incident to the early settlement of Utah. He uncomplainingly and frequently subsisted on roots and whatever could be obtained to keep himself and family alive.
In 1850, when 100 volunteers were called for to settle Little Salt Lake, now Parowan, Father volunteered. He lived there a number of years through the trials and hardships of making Parowan, as it is now called, and made it a place for the Saints to live in. His wife left him and went to California taking their two children with her (she stole the children while Father was going to settle Parowan). He never saw his wife and daughter again but his son came and visited him several times.
When Johnson's Army was coming, Father, with three others, were sent east to see if they were coming in on the Fremont Trail. He was also sent back to Sweetwater to help the Saints cross the plains. After Father was released from Parowan he settled at Beaver, Utah, where he resided a great many years taking a most active part in establishing the institutions of that place. His families have shares in all the co-operative institutions.
He was a friend and father to the people of Dixie, always buying their produce, taking chances to dispose of it later. During the polygamy persecutions Father moved to Wayne County, as he had and wife, Ellen, and family had been clearing there in Thurber Bottoms and were going back in the fall to their home in Beaver. When he was notified through a friend that the officers in Beaver had been issued an indictment for his arrest. He was told not to come back there or they would have to take him to prison, so he remained in Wayne County. Mary Ann and Ellen were the only wives he had at that time. He helped to settle and build up that country, finally settling in Grover, Utah, where he was Presiding Elder for many years.
He was ordained a High Priest by Apostle Francis M. Lyman in 1893. He was a man of sterling qualities and was a strict observer of the Word of Wisdom. None of his wives or children ever saw him take tea, coffee, tobacco or liquor in any form. He obeyed all the principles of the gospel. He was ever mindful of the poor and needy and depressed. He was a firm believer that there was more virtue in teaching the gospel by living it than by preaching it.
He had 5 wives, 33 children, 74 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and a number of great great grandchildren at the time of his death, December 25, 1898. By his first wife, Lydia Gage Jacobs, he had three children, namely: Edna, Henry, and Urban Jacobs.
By his second wife, Elizabeth Luck, whom he married May 21, 1854, he became the father of six children, namely: Van, Levi, Elizabeth, Rosanna E., Sarah V., and Eunice A.
His third wife, Mary Ann Jones (daughter of William E. and Mary Jones), who he married March 11, 1860, he became the father of ten children, namely: Mary Jane, Liza Ann, Martha Ellen, William Urban, Daniel Jones, Margaret Caroline, Robert Charles, George Heber, Lewis Jenkins, and Clara Bell.
The fourth wife, Ellen Adams (daughter of David Barclay and Mary Cook), who he married July 14, 1865, he became the father of ten children, namely: Mary Ellen, David James, Urban Van, John Riley, Lydia Catherine, Andrew Adams, Rosa May, Levi, Effie Elizabeth, and Walter Ernest.
The fifth wife, Kaziah Jones (daughter of William E. and Mary Jones), whom he married July 16, he became the father of three children, namely: Margaret, Edward, and Susan.
Father and his wife, Elizabeth Luck, adopted her son, Joseph Heartup, a child by her first husband, William Heartup.
At the present time, March 9, 1939, he has 5 sons and 6 daughters living. He was 81 years old, died and buried in Grover, Wayne County, Utah. His wife, Ellen Adams Stewart, is resting by his side.
He was a faithful Latter-day Saint and has set a worthy example for his descendants to follow after.