was born in 1856 in Bountiful, the fourth son and eleventh child of Margaret Westhead and James Prescott, but only the fifth child to survive. His father died when he was eleven, leaving his mother and 18-year-old brother to provide for the family.
James’s sister Alice went to work for William Atkinson in Park City (then called Parley’s Park) and in 1868 married she his son, Amos Stiles Atkinson. They settled in the area now known as Silver Creek and eventually James’s and Alice’s mother Margaret went to live with them. It was on a visit to his mother and sister that James met Sarah Alvira (Ell) Pace, the daughter of a neighbor, George Milton Pace.
Ell was born in 1860 in Bountiful, the oldest child of Sarah Alvira Standley and George Milton Pace.
The family had moved to Parley’s Park soon after it was discovered by Parley Pratt. Beginning with cattle given to them by Sarah’s father, they raised beef and dairy cattle, an operation which in time became Deseret Live Stock Company.
James and Ell were married in 1880. The couple first lived near their families in Silver Creek, but as the mines began to be developed the water in the creek became poisoned, killing their livestock. James’s brother Amos sold his land to George Milton Pace and moved to Kamas Valley in around 1890. In 1896 James followed, and the family moved to Francis.
James farmed cattle and served as the town’s veterinarian. He established a co-op with cattlemen from Heber to take their cattle to range in Strawberry Valley. He also bred horses and was a member of the Breeder’s Association, for whom he kept and cared for several thoroughbreds. He served on the irrigation committee and was a trustee of the school board for twelve years, during which time he represented Francis in the development of the first Kamas High School.
Ell learned nursing from her mother and mother-in-law and worked as nurse and midwife for the Valley. It’s estimated she helped in the birth of 300 children. One of her last patients was her granddaughter. She also served as president of Francis Relief Society for over twenty years, all while raising her own seven children, plus – after the death of her daughter-in-law – five grandchildren.
James died in 1926 and Ell moved into the home of her son Lorin. She suffered a stroke in 1937 and died in 1941. They are both buried in Bountiful.
The house and barn that James built are still in the family, on State Route 32 in Francis.
- Beverly Bemis