Joseph Bracken Lee was born at Tooele, Tooele County, Utah on September 18, 1860, the son of Isaac Lee and Mary Ann Bracken Lee. In his boyhood days, he worked in a sawmill with his father in Tooele. He was baptized in Bear Lake by William Budge. However, there are conflicting records as to the date of his baptism, one being 1868 and another 1871. Evidently, for the sake of a definite date, he was re-baptized on July 23, 1892.
In the late 1870’s his father’s family moved to Grouse Creek, Box Elder County, Utah. Young Joseph was in his late teens. Here in the Grouse Creek valley, Joseph helped his father clear the land of sagebrush and to begin to farm. The boy had no easy task of it, but helped his father willingly.
A year or so after they settled in Grouse Creek, that small community had an Indian scare. A fellow coming from a town called Terrace reported that the Indians were on the warpath. Immediately the people of Grouse Creek began to gather together at a ranch called the Fletcher place. Joseph and some companions were riding horses to the Fletcher place. They were wearing some old soldier coats which were long and hung about them. On their way, they began to overtake A.F. Richins, who was driving a team of mules and carrying some women and children to safety in his wagon. When Joseph and his companions saw them, they began to ride hard toward them, yelling like Indians, while their coats blew in the wind like Indian blankets. The women and children in the wagon began to scream and Brother Richins whipped up the mules to a fast gallop. The young men had a good time of it, but those in the wagon had a different opinion of the prank. The Indian scare proved to be a false alarm.
A short while after this incident, Joseph went trailing cattle from Goose Creek (about twenty miles from Grouse Creek) to California for a man who wanted to go into the dairy business. In those days, shipping cattle by rail was almost unheard of, so Joseph was employed with others to trail the cattle all the long distance to California. He drove the ox team that followed the herd. He was gone about three months. When he came back, he worked for another livestock company called Parsons and Egars. He worked with them until the time of his marriage and for some time afterwards.
He married Mary Ann Mecham on December 11, 1884. They were married at what became known as the Dell Hart place by Bishop Charles Kimber Sr. The Hart place, at Etna, was at that time the home of Lorenzo Dowe Mecham and his wife, Mary Ann Clark Mecham, parents of Mary Ann Mecham.
The young couple continued to live in the Grouse Creek area for some time. Then for about six months they lived in Terrace, about thirty miles south of Grouse Creek, where Joseph worked for wages on the railroad. They then moved several miles north to the Twelve Mile Ranch, which they operated for about eighteen months. Their next move was back to Grouse Creek where “Joe” worked at various jobs such as hauling wool, taking hay contracts, and farming. During these years, they became parents of several sons and a daughter.
Acting upon the encouragement of friends, Joe prepared himself to go to the temple with his family. He was ordained an Elder on September 27, 1896 and in October of 1896 they and their six children, along with two other couples who were going to be married, left Grouse Creek with teams and wagons headed for Salt Lake City. They traveled by way of Bovine Point, past Newfoundland (both in Box Elder County), across the salt flats to Grantsville (Tooele County) and from there to Salt Lake City. It took them several days to make the journey.
Joseph Bracken Lee and Mary Ann Mecham received their endowments and were sealed on October 22, 1896. Their six children were also sealed to them at that time. Those children were: Joseph Valentine, Fearzmore, Mary Ellen, Isaac Franklin, William and Edward. The two couples who had traveled with them from Grouse Creek were also married that same day. Sarah Ruth Mecham (sister to Mary Ann Mecham Lee) was married and sealed to George Sanford Cooke, and James Cooke (brother to George Sanford Cooke) was married and sealed to Francis Toyn.
After a few years, Joe and Mary Ann and their family moved to Marion, Idaho, where they lived for eight years. Here, Joe again worked on hay contracts and trading jobs and operated a small farm. Their family continued to increase. Joe was a hard worker and was determined that his children, especially the boys, do their share. They learned early about hard work and long hours. Sometimes, Joe worked right along with the boys, and at other times he would hire them out. Their wages would go to help support the family.
Moving back to the Grouse Creek area, they took up ranching again at what later became known as the Hales place at Etna. They then returned to Grouse Creek. Joe could work the machinery of that day quite well. At one time later on, he had a big tractor, and he and his sons would do plowing, hauling or threshing for people throughout the valley. For two or three years, he operated a sawmill in the mountains east of the Grouse Creek valley. During this time, he and his sons built a nice two-storied house which the family lived in for a short time. They eventually moved to the Kinkade place on Etna, where they lived for about four years. By this time, their large family of twelve children were grown and most were married. In 1929 they moved to Heyburn, Idaho, where several of their children lived. In addition to the six children that went with them to the temple they had Lorenzo, Hannah Bell, Lucius, Casper Earl, Lester and Alfred.
At Heyburn, Joseph did mostly garden work. He died on October 11, 1932 and was buried in the Heyburn cemetery.
The following article appeared in the Oakley Herald (issued from Oakley, Cassia County, Idaho) on April 1, 1953.
C.C. Toyn Praises Two Pioneers
Recently, I have been thinking and pondering over past years, and especially have I thought of the early days in the settlement of this place, Grouse Creek. Much could be said of the early settlers, the pioneers, of the outlying districts which today help wonderfully in making up our great west.
The faith and courage of these men and women must have been great, faith and courage similar in every way to the qualifications possessed by the followers of Brigham Young when fleeing their enemies and seeking a haven of rest in the valleys of the mountains far from their persecutors.
It is my purpose at this time to draw the attention of the readers of the Oakley Herald to two of these early pioneers, the late Joseph B. Lee and his wife, the late Mary Ann Mecham Lee. Much of the life of this couple was spent in Grouse Creek, Utah. The outstanding contribution of this couple to our country is the wonderful family they left behind. Members of this family today are living at Grouse Creek, Oakley, Burley, etc.
Ten sons and two daughters were born to this union. They range in age from sixty-seven years down to forty-three. Not a death has as yet occurred in this family of children. All are married, and all are known to be honorable men and women, worthy citizens of our great country.
World Wars I and II found some of these boys wearing the uniforms of our country. I am personally acquainted with each member of this family, having lived neighbors to them for many years. All are members of the LDS Church.
The family consists of Joseph V. Lee, Heyburn, Idaho, Fearzmore Lee, Burley, Idaho, Mrs. Ernest (Ella) Warburton, Grouse Creek, Utah, Isaac Franklin Lee, Grouse Creek, Utah, William Lee, Montello, Nevada, Edward Lee, Oakley, Idaho, Lorenzo Lee, Ogden, Utah, Mrs. Mortimer (Hannah Bell) Day, Rupert, Idaho, Lucius Lee, Washington State, Casper Earl Lee, Heyburn, Idaho, Lester Lee, Rupert, Idaho, Alfred Lee, Milner, Idaho.
Joseph B. Lee was born at Tooele, Utah on September 18, 1860. When sixteen he came to Grouse Creek with his parents, in 1877. He died on October 11, 1932.
Mary Ann Mecham Lee was born at Grantsville, Utah on November 27, 1866. She died on February 20, 1944. Both are buried at Heyburn, Idaho.
To this union were born twelve children and at this counting there were fifty two grandchildren and forty-four great-grandchildren.