History of John Peck Chidester Family & Descendents

by Ida Josephine Sargent Chidester

Way back in 1861, John Peck Chidester, who was a Pennsylvanian by birth, came with his father John Madison Chidester to Washington, Utah and is listed in Washington records with about 50 families who were called by Brigham Young under the date of October 13, 1861, to the Southern or Dixie Mission.

These 50 families bolstered up the settlers who, after several years of colonizing, had become discouraged and there were only 20 families left in Washington at this time. They arrived just as winter set in, and shortly after their arrival, a great storm set in and many of them had no shelter but the wagons they came in. All through the winter months the rain fell incessantly until these few settlers likened it to the biblical events of Noah’s day and they have always referred to it as the 40 days and nights of rain which flooded the Virgin River and destroyed many villages in Washington County. Washington stood on higher ground and escaped some of the worst floods but it took their crops and gardens.

When spring came these few settlers started in to build a dam on this trecherous river so they could plant crops and cotton and try to make a living. Some idea of their hardships and struggles from 1861 to 1865 is told in the way they worked to dam the river. Every time the floods took the dam out their crops were gone and they all suffered terribly with hunger and Malaria Fever. So the fight against the Virgin was started in August 1885 with John Peck Chidester of Washington, Utah, Richard Morris and Anthony W. Ivins of St. George as a committee to plan the construction of the dam. John Peck Chidester had some training as an engineer and carpenter. He proposed that they build a Pile Dam, so they commissioned John Peck Chidester to explore the Pine Valley Mountain and ascertain if he could obtain suitable timbers for building this dam. The supply of timbers were obtained and John Peck Chidester let no gras grow under his feet. Getting these timbers to a loading plase was a hurculean task but finally they were secured and on February 11, 1886, John Peck Chidester was appointed superintendent of construction for the dam.

John Peck and his father John Madison had worked as carpenters on public buildings both in St. George and Washington and he was the chief carpenter on the construction of the old cotton factory, cutting the timbers and doing the mortise work all with hand tools. He also built the Tithing Barn and Granary in Washington and was paid $4.00 per day for all this work, part in ditch credit, some in hay, grain, flour or orders on the factory. He build the Pile Dam a few hundred yards below the old dam. The work moved ahead rapidly and by July 13, 1886, Superintendent Chidester reported that the piles were all driven but that futher labors were at a standstill until crops were up and ore timbers hauled from Pine Valley Mountain. Finally some men were able to help and after the piles were cross sectioned, Indians were utilized to roll rocks off the mountain into the dam. They were paid fifty cents a day. Men labored in the water which was up to their waist to finish the dam and put the water in the ditch to save crops. The dam was still unfinished but they continued working all through 1887-88 and crops suffered as a result of it not being completed and sickness overtook the community so no one was able to work.

Finally after four years the dam was completed and the people looked at it with satisfaction and said, “now we have a dam that will last, we have mastered the Virgin River”. But their joy was of short duration as in December 1889, terrible storms and floods hit the town and continued until the dam was completely destroyed. The people were very discouraged, some were leaving but the board called a meeting of stockholders and decided to have Superintendent Chidester build a new dam. Robert C. Land, John Peck Chidester, Richard Morris, Isaac McFarlane and Charles W. Seegmiller were assigned the job of deciding were to build the dam and how to do it. A site was chosen three miles above the old dam site and John Peck Chidester, Charles W. Seegmiller and Isaac McFarlane were the three men who chose the site and started in to build another dam but they had a hard time. The dam was completed in February 1891 and from that day to this, the dam has held firm.

Just to show what kind of man John Peck Chidester was the story is told of how the man worked with wheelbarrows to make a tunnel to divert floods and were only getting $5.00 per day so John Peck Chidester, who was one of the general committee raised their wages to $7.50 per day. Today his farms on both sides of the Virgin River are watered when it is most urgently needed through the efforts of this good man.

John Peck Chidester was a counsellor to Bishop Funk for many years and when Washington was incorporated he was elected as a councilman with Mayor Thomas J. Jones and also owned a mercantile business. His wife, Susan Foy Chidester served as Relief Society President and Aunt Evaline Sproul and her mother, Susan Foy Chidester were among the first women who worked at raising cocoons and helping in the silk industry. Susan Foy Chidester raised some of the first mullberry trees in Dixie. She had a tree right by her upstairs window where she kept the cocoons and  long tables and could reach through the window and gather mullberry leaves to feed them. Susan Foy and Evaline Sproul made some beautiful silk and it was a beatiful cream0colored silk that she took to the fair and won fist prize. She had ten yards of this silk to make herself a dress. She also made some silk for Theodore a silk handkerchief about one yard square. He used it for a neck scarf and it was lovely. Susan Foy made some green silk which was used for Temple Aprons. This was considered a fine weave.

The family of John Peck Chidester were talented singers and musicians. His sons, John Foy and Myron played the violin. John Peck was also a talented musician.  He played the violin which he made and was very particular about it. His son John Foy was very anxious to learn to play when he was a young boy but was told not to touch the violin which belonged to his father. However, his mother, Susan Foy and her sister realizing this strong desire decided to let the boy practice on his father’s violin while he was at work.John Foy had a natural talent and was son playing the tunes he had heard his father play. This secret was too good to keep from the boy’s father, so they told John Peck about this. He was skeptical so they devised a scheme whereby John Peck was to leave the room supposedly to go to work and they would give the boy the violin. He started to play and his father listened while he played all of the tunes. Finally he could conatin himself no longer and walked in. John Foy was quite perturbed, expecting some penalty. His father was so pleased and could hardly believe what he had heard about the boy’s ability, so he gave his son John Foy the violin, and gave him lessons. As years went by he was one of the leading musicians in Southern and Central Utah and in 1892 John F. Chidester, George Hanks and William T. Owens build the first dance hall in Panguitch, Utah and also a resort at Panguitch Lake. This was the largest dance hall south of Salt Lake City. They had George Hanks at the piano, William Owens at the drums and triangle and John Foy the violin. People flocked from all over to dance at this beautiful, spacious dancehall. When the crowds were so great no one was allowed to dance two dances in succession. James A. Worthen was manager and if anyone brok ethis rule James merely gave them a look or pointed his finger at them and they immediately left the floor. He would call out “those who did not dance the last dance may choose partners” for the waltz, two-step or whatever the case may be.

These three men also formed a race track company and built a circle track. Some of the best race horses in Utah, Nevada and Arizona came to this resort. People flocked there from everywhere to spend a week at the Twenty-Fourth Celebration at Panguitch Lake. Theatre troops from New York City came and the hall was ligted with acetoline or Carbide Lights and it was a beautiful place. The orchestra sometimes numbered six. This was really a wonderful resort but like Saltair and old generals, it just faded away.

The violin which John Peck made and which he gave to his son Joyn Foy was handed down to Samuel H. Chidester who now resides in Bicknell, Utah. Sam is another one of the Chidester musicians, having taught privately and in schools in Utah, as well as having trained many dance bands. Uncle Myron Chidester helped to organize a band and Uncle Andrew Sproul and his brother Angus and daughter Emmeline and son Masel Sroul were members of this band. Uncle Myron and Uncle Andrew Sproul were among the greatest entertainers Washington hand. They were both talented singers and were good in amateur theatricals and minstrel shows and wish a number of friends staged some wonderful shows and negro minstrels did many clever things with their guitars, bangos, mandeline and singing. They also had a wonderful Ward Choir. Undle Andrew had a beautiful, clear tenor voice and a family of the most talented singers I ever knew.

John Peck’s Family entered Washington, Utah five days after the very first settlers, letting their wangons down over the Black Ridge by ropes. They helped build the town of Washington, Utah and all of the family helped in the cotton industry. Susan Foy and her daugthers and some of her granddaughters, namely Almina Chidester Ogden, Emma and Jennie Ruby worked in the factory.

Some of this is taken from emmory and some is taken from the history of Washington “The Red Hills of November” by Andrew Karl Larsen.

John Foy Chidester lived in Washington until his wife Mary, lovingly called Mamie, died. Then he left his chidlren, Sabina, Theodore, John N and Mary Asenath with his mother and sisters and went to Beaver to study law. Upon his return he practiced law and made a wonderful career for himself.

After the death of John Foy’s wife Mary and a lapse of two years, he came to Panguitch and in 1885 married Almina Worthen. He worked occasionally at carpenter work and in 1889 he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Southern States. Jenson’s Church Chronology states that John F. Chidester of Panguitch and his companion George H. Burgess while laboring in the mission field in Tennessee and South Carolina in 1889 were assaulted by a mob and banised from their field of labor. They were laboring without purse or script and a post office in the vicinty was robbed and they were suspecioned by the people and would have undoubtedly been killed but were protected by a family of convers, Hasting (Bud) Thompson, who held the mob at bay with a shotgun. Later they were taken into custody by officers and held a few days until the real culprits were apprehended. Then the officers paid their way out of the state, being embarrassed over the situation, they said that they would buy them a ticket to wehrever they wished to go ad they were able to have transportation to a conference they were to attend. At the time they did not know how they would be able to reach their destination. Later the Thompson family came to Panguitch and some of them still live here. This was the only missionary from Panguitch that was mobbed.


However, details of this story were told by John F. Chidester’s wife Almina to her daughter Almina Ogden as follows:

John F. Chidester and his companion George E. Burgess while laboring in the missionfield in the Southern States received word from the mission Headquarters to proceed to Chatanooga for a conference. John F. Chidester and his companion were at a loss to see how they could reach their destination without the funds to buy a ticket as they were laboring without purse or script. They proceeded to go into a grove nearby and knelt in prayer and asked the Lord for help so that they might reach their destination. They had started on their journey, obeying the council to come when they were overtaken by the officers of the law and taken into custody. They were at a loss to know on what charges they were being held and were informed that the post office had been robbed, the post-master killed and that they fit the description of the wanted men. They were placed in a jail which was even farther from their intended destination than before and held for thirty-six hours, at the end of which time they were informed that the guilty parties were apprehended and they were released. To make amends the officers told John Foy and his companion that they would furnish them with transportation to wherever they wished to go. This was the solution to these two missionaries arriving at the conference on time. Tickets were purchased on the train for the trip to the conference.

John Foy Chidester held some of the most important offices in Garfield County and held many religious offices both in Panguitch and Richfield, Utah. He was Superintendent of the Sunday School in Panguitch after he returned from his mission. As mentioned he went without purse or script and left his family with no visible means of support but his wife Almina took her four step-children to the Al Haycock Ranch, where she did the milking of approximately fifteen cows made butter and cheese, corded wool, made soap, took in washings which she did on the board, sewed by candle-light, bartering her services as a seamstress for the children’s shoes; her sewing machine being purchased by John F. with the first ten dollars he had after they were married, and which machine she kept until the moved to Richfield, Utah.

After John F. returned from his mission the first job he obtained was helping to build the first jail the county ever had and it is still standing today.

In 1885, John F. Chidester was admitted to the practice of law before the Utah Bar at Beaver. He served as county attorney in Garfield County, was county clerk and recorder, was the chairman of the first Republican Party.

With the transformation of Utah from a territory to a state, John F. Chidester served as a member of the Constitutional Convention and while there made a determined fight for women suffrage, and was attributed through his efforts of getting the vote for women more so than any other person in the convention.

Emmeline B. Wells was one who watched John Foy Chidester on all of his activities for Women Suffrage. John Foy said at one time, it seemed as though every time he turned a corner, Emmeline B. Wells was there to help push the cause along. After the bill passed at the Convention giving the vote to women Emmeline B. Wells, as a token of gratitude, presented John F. Chidester with an autographed volume of Elliot’s Felex Holt, The Spanish Gypsy, Jubal and other Poems, inscribed with the following:

Hon, J. F. Chidester
Chairman Committee
on Elections & Suffrage —
From one who appreciates
the magnanimity he has shown
for  women, and who graciously
tenders him her simple need of praise —

Signed: mmEmmeline B. Wells
Salt Lake City – April 25, 1895

John F. Chidester was elected State Senator from Garfield County to the First General Assembly of Utah in 1896. He aided in the adjustent of public policy and interests to the new statehood. Prior to his term as senator he served Garfield County as mentioned before. Upon expiration of his term as senator he was elected attorney for the Sixth Judicial District. When his term as senator expired and the office of district attornty of the Sixth Judicial District was created, John F. was first to hold that office, which position he held for six years.

In the year of 1902 John F. was appointed Judge of the Sixth Judicial District and in the year 1906 moved his family to the town of Richfield, Utah, where the new Court House had been erected.

John Foy Chidester displayed great wisdom while rendering his decisions as Judge. In all the years that he served on teh bench as judge he had but one decision reversed; this was reviewed by the Supreme Court and reversed back to his original decision. John Foy Chidester was characterized by people generally as the Abraham Lincoln of Utah.

The present generation who are descendants of John P. Chidester all speak for themselves. There are some highly talented and proficient business men, people of the arts and sciences, and tody we are here to pay honor and tribute to a wonderful man and his posterity.

John Foy Chidester organized the Chidester Family Reunion, the first two were held in Washington, the third one was held at his home in Richfield and he took care of everyone in the way of housing and food. Ida Chidester also helped with this first reunion and contributed a piece of her literary work for the same.

The purpose of these reunions is to keep the family united and to get a history published of all members and the gathering and completion of all geneology. This is but the beginning – please submit yours.

Edited and added to by:
Almina Chidester Ogden
Thais Chidester Vreeland

History of Benjamin Platt by his grandson Rulon Platt

(Life History of Benjamin Platt as given in brief by John W. Platt his eldest son, written by Rulon B. Platt a grandson. This narritative was told Aug 30, 1938. John W. Platt being in his 80th year. At this time he was living in Kanarraville. This sketch of history is authentic, the narriator being in a normal mind with clear understanding).

Benjamin Plass was born, April, 12 1833. At Crompton, Lancshire, England. Being the son of Thomas Platt. We have no known facts of his childhood days or surroundings. He had no schooling or place of learning. Ben was known to be very observing, then applying himself to obtain more knowledge. How ne came in possession of a Bible is not told. At most he learned the letters of the Alphabet from this. Figures came in the same way. Spending his nights after work in company with other boys who worked at the Mills, they learned figures and their combinations. Learning to read and write in this untireing effort he obtained and possessed a great vocabulary. A broad knowledge of History. He made good use at all times of good grammer. His councel was sound and wise. An excellant command of Bible Scriptures.

As an occupation while in England, he worked at the clothing Mills. Being a finisher or Dressor of Corduroy and Velvet.

While in his early days of manhood and yet working at the Mills, he heard the Restored Gospel taught by two Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. With his Bible knowledge, and the Spirit of Inspiration, the truth pricked his Soul, so he adopted the teachings. Joining the Church while in his early 20’s. Was Ordained to the Priesthood while in England. Was ordained a Priest. He took an active part in church work, also did some street preaching.

While working at the Mills he saved money and made preparations to sail to America. Having a great desire to be with the main body of the Church. At a testimony meeting he was told if he would wait one year he would bring with him a wife. Being impressed he gave heed to councel, and saw prophecy fulfilled. He met his wife while attending Branch meetings. She too had joined the Church and was working at the same Mills.

The woman he took to wed was Mary Graves. They married April 13, 1856. They embarked for America May 25, 1856.

The Voyage to America was a pleasant one. No sea Catastrophies of any nature. The Voyage took Six weeks. The vessal was a sailship. Boston was the port where they disembarked. From Boston they went to Iowa City by Rail road.

Arriving at Iowa City, a Handcart company was being organized. Edwin Martin was appointed as the head or Captin. By this appointment the company was known as Edward Martin Handcart Company. Benjamin Platt and wife were of this Company.

Orders were given by Franklin D. Richards to the company that no individual should make the effort to go Or start the treck across the plains unless they were physically able to walk the entire distance.

The purpose for and cause of this hazardous endeavour was caused by bitter persecution of the people in the Central States. To remain there would be a risk of life. Trecking the Plains with hastily constructed Hand Carts was a great risk. But, they were set on being with the main body of the church.

The company now being ready to start the journey. For some reason orders were not abided by close enough, and some elderly people as well as some children were in the company.

After journeying three weeks the Hand Carts began to break down, and out in a wild and desolate Prarie. There being no Blacksmiths, no tooks, axels of wood, Hubs of the wheels of wood, no grease to keep down the wear. The result breakdown after breakdown, causing great delays. Late Autumn and cold weather was upon them. Suffering began, suffering no human mind can express. (Unless they were one of the company.) Benjamin and wife were young, in the turmoil they were given an old Gentelman to care for. They had to put him on top of their luggage. They cared for him until he died. The misery he caused them is better not expressed because of their faith. Yet on they truged, singing as they went. The songs kept up the Spirits of the company. (Later an elderly Lady was given to them to care for and then a small child.)

Benjamin and wife had two large tin Boxes with their clothing and personal belongings. 100 lbs. flour, 24 lbs. of salt bacon, dried beands, (a bake oven, of cast iron,) (Frying Plan, of cast iron,) (Cooking vessal, of cast iron,) Bedding limited.

Journing on they arrived at the Plate river, as no in the state of Wyoming. Only wandering tribes of Indians knew much about the wilds and Prarie country at this time. The Indians were not very friendly in those days.

While making preparations to cross the River a severe snow storm came up, developing high winds so it was a blizzard. The storm lasted two days. Being on the Prarie no wood, only Buffalo chips that could be gathered were used for firewood. Suffering was intense, sickness, deaths. Graves had to be dug. O, the Heart aches.

Storm being over, and completing their preparations for crossing unitedly they helped each other. Ben crossed the River five times in one day. The River being moderately high, depth from knee to hip, floating Ice blocks, the air was crisp and cold. Ben carried his wife on his shoulders across the first time. How many days were needed to complete the crossing were not told.

The crossing completed, more unforsene troubles. From the expousure, more sickness, more deaths, greater delays loss of Spirit, seemingly everyone would die from some ailment. With faith and prayer the Supreme Power brought them deliverance. On they journeyed, and in a few days reached what later became known as (Devils Gate).

At Devils Gate they met by men sent from Salt Lake City to give them aid getting over the Mountain. (These were the advance Scouts of the Rescue party, the main supply wagons were a full night or a day to the rear. At this point all Hand Carts were abandoned. They being of no farther value. Broken down, worn out no material to use to repair. People who were not able to walk were loaded into wagons, all luggage was piled together, plannig was made to return in the Spring for their belongings. Never again were they heard of. Another sacrifice. Possessions and treasured memories. But there they were.

Men stood guard every night to keep the stock from straying away. Also Indians would come at night and drive away the animals.

One night after coming off duty as guard, his co-partner awoke him at 4, A.M. saying, come Ben we have graves to dig for thirteen this morning. Graves were dug but instead of being individual, one long grave was dug and all bodies laid side by side. Covering? Only their clothes and maybe a blanket.

As they traveled over the mountain ranges the weather was extremely cold, very often they had to break trails. Progress was very slow.

The Hand Cart Company arrived in Salt Lake City Nov. 30, 1856. They arrived on a Sunday in the after noon. About 4. P.M. The entire company was almost exhausted. Starvation plus expousure. Accomedations were extended by those already extablished. Tis not known how long they stayed at S. L.

After their arrival the company was sent to different parts of the Territory to help establish settlements. Ben and wife were asked to go South and help settle the Virgin river country. Leaving Salt Lake City in company of Charles Dalton, Their first stop being at Old Fort Harmony. Arriving there Dec. 23, 1856. The man in charge took him to the home of James Davis. People in those days lived in Forts as a protection from Renegade bands of Indians.

Benjamin worked and made a living while at Fort Harmony for 4 years. His earnings were paid in Live Stock and foods.

The year 1861, he and wife moved to Grafton a small village on the banks of the Virgin River. Some 20 miles south and east of Fort Harmony.

Being in the early days of this settlement, in the early days of a New Territory, making a livelyhood was no easy task. Ben nor wife at any previous time had no experience with farming. In the past working at cloth mills in England. At first planting a small pot of wheat for to have flour and cereal. A small plot was planted into Sugar Cane to make Molasss. There being no fruit at this early period. The crops matured then were harvested. They made plans for winter.

In Jan 1862 a 30 day rain persisted to fall. The River became a raging torrent, the little village was carried away having been settled too close to the River bank. Now destitute again, no home, 2 small children one a baby. Very few personal belongings were saved. Most of the food had gone also. A 20 gallon barrel of molasses was included. As the rain ceased the river receded, parties followed the river course in search of belongings that might have deposited along the river banks. Some were found, among them was this barrel of molasses. Some people endeavored to establish ownership to the molasses, but Grandmother proved her right by a piece of cloth taken from her husbands shirt and put around the Bung or cork to make it Tight. (She exposed the shirt.)

In early Spring of 1862 Ben and wife started north seeking a place to again start a home. Arriving at Kanarraville where a few of the people from Fort Harmony had gone to settle on a small stream running from the mountain. When they arrived they were again taken to the home of James Davis. In the ensueing days, council was held and a decision approved that at this time for more people to settle at Kanarraville would be unwise. Seems the water supply was not sufficient. Thus farming could be seriously curtailed.

Ben was advised to go west 27 miles where a new settlement was being established. Leaving his wife at Kanarra he went to this new location. Walking the distance each way. He was gone 2 days. He was impressed, so he took his wife and there settled, being one of seven families. The families agreed to use the water one day each week to raise crops. The settlement was in a valley where meadows were abundant. The grass was cut and stored for livestock through the winter. This settlement became known as Pinto. So this was Ben’s final move. Now to build a home.

By constant toil he built a cottage, at first a Dug out in the side of a hill. It became one of the happiest and love abiding cottages in all Zion.

Ben worked hard until long in his mature years. Honest in every act. Even to the marrow of his bones. Never aquireing wealth just a good wholsome living. Ben and wife were parents of 12 children. Of the children three filled missions for the Church. Two were school teachers. Others became stock raisers and farmers.

During winter months in early days, Ben and his boys would cut wood, then sell by the cord from the furnaces at Iron Town, where Pig Iron was being made. Where the Iron was sold was not told. The money was used for clothing and other home necessities.

In conclusion of this brief narrative I wish to make record of an instance and happening in the life of Ben Platt. We readily see the great struggles our Pioneer Forefathers endured. They made their flour by grinding wheat between two flat stones, then sifting thru cloth, and other contrivences.

In mid winter one of those trying years, Benjamin shouldered 60′ lb. of wheat, walked 50 miles to Cedar City, (then known as Coal Creek) to the only Flour mill in all the Southern Territory to have his wheat ground into flour, (John) has told on several occassions, how on the following day he watched for his return so they could have something to eat. That day on his return at dusk how they enjoyed cracked wheat mush. Only milk to serve with it. No sugar, this was a luxary not known in those days.

Having had a life of hard work, yet humble with all trials, Benjamin Platt died in his 85’th year. Any praise that can be said of a humble character would be fitting to Benjamin Platt.

My love and admiration as a grandson, and the narriative as told by his eldest son (John) I leave to all who many have an interest.

Rulon B. Platt.

Oct. 26, 1938

John Peck Chidester Pioneer of 1850

He was such a little fellow to be already a part of a great movement that was to lead him across a great nation — an adventure that was to occupy him most of his lifetime. Being a member of Zion’s Camp in 1834 was a distinction for one so young, and a bit lonely, too–for there were no other children to play with, even if there had been time to play. Of course, there was the new baby sister, but that was no fun! It only meant that Mother was always busy with the baby. There wasn’t room enough on her lap any more. He would just have to grow up fast and be a strong, brave man like Father.

John Peck Chidester was a born pioneer, born to pioneer parents, John Madison Chidester and Mary Parker, in St. Petersburg, Sommerfield Twp., Monroe Co., Michigan, 31 Dec. 1831. Michigan, the crossroad to the west, saw the streams of migrant wagons crossing Lake Erie from New York, some to stay in this virgin land, others to push on to the west. There were also wagon trains from Canada pushing along the Raisin River to newer, more fertile plains. Already, when John was born, there were converts to the Mormon church, the fruit of the labors of such missionaries as Parley P. Pratt and otherw, who were following this route to join the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, in Kirtland, Ohio.

The Chidesters had only been in Michigan a year or two and were well situation on a fine farm. A comfortable home had been built by the time little John was born. A year later missionaries brought them the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the parents, John Madison and Mary Parker Chidester, were baptized. Then early in 1834 the Prophet’s brother Hyrum came to Michigan with a call for able-bodied men to join Zion’s Camp–and little John was embarked on a great adventure.

Growing up in those turbulent early years of Mormonism was not all bad. There were many wonderful times along the way as well as the times of hunger and suffering. There was the companionship of the sons and daughters of the great leader of Mormonism, the great excitement of military clashes, and the challenge of the unknown that has always been manna to youth. Such growing up built men of steel and strong will. There were also the times when children as well as adults sat at the feet of a Prophet of God and drank in the peace and sureness that Joseph was always able to instill in his followers. Faith was born and grew to fruition in the breast of this young man. John was baptized 19 June, 1840 in Nauvoo, Ill., by Freeman Nickerson.

By the time John was sixteen years of age he had learned to work beside his father as carpenter and turner. He had helped in the building of many of the houses in Nauvoo; and most importantly of all, he had helped to build the Nauvoo Temple. So it was, that when the need arose, in that fateful winter of 1846, for the Saints to cross the Mississippi river, John helped his father to build a ferry. More often than not, it was John who guided the craft until it reached the Iowa shore and disgorged its precious cargo of migrant Saints. This service he continued to perform until all Saints who were leaving the beseiged city were safely away.

At Winter Quarters John continued to work with his father as they built a horse-powered grist mill to grind grain into flour to proved bread for the migrating Saints. He helped, in the next years, to fashion the wagons and carts of the pioneers.

In the spring of 1850, not yet nineteen years of age, it was the turn of John and his family to cross the great plains to Zion. That same year the Foy family was making the same journey and it is entirely possible that the two families journeyed together as independent pioneers, arriving in the Great Salt Lake valley in the late summer.

Thomas Birk Foy, listing himself as of German descent, and his wife Catherine Rebecca Fink, who said she was of Welch descent, had joined the church in western Pennsylvania early in 1840 or late in 1839. Leaving Wheatfield, Indiana Co., Pennsylvania, almost immediately after baptism, they and their five children settled in Warsaw, Hancock Co., Ill., just a few miles from Nauvoo. Three more children were born to the family in Warsaw; another was born during the trek across Iowa; one was born the December after their arrival in Salt Lake City in 1850 and the last child of the family was born in 1853 after the family had moved to Farmington.

Their second child, a daughter Susan (Susahhah) was born 4 April, 1831 in Wheatfield Twp., Indiana Co., Pennsylvania. She was baptized in 1840 in Warsaw, Ill., by her father.

It was inevitable that Susan Foy and John Peck Chidester, with so much in common, should be attracted to each other. They were of the same age, crossed the plains and settled in Salt Lake City the same year, and each had a deep and abiding faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were married 23 Oct. 1851 in Salt Lake City.

John’s first big adventure as a head of a family was to take his bride to pioneer the area at the southern tip of Utah Lake, living in Palmyra and belonging to the Spanish Fork Ward. The ward was organized 21 Dec. 1851 and listed the Chidesters as members.

Their children, born in Spanish Fork were:

John Foy            born 2 Feb. 1853
Mary Catherine  born 15 Feb 1855, died 13 Apr 1857
Susan Emma    born 2 Dec 1857

Their home was a dug-out, constructed by digging a hole in the ground of five feet deep, with steps leading down into the room from one end. A roof of willows and mud protected the inhabitants and a fireplace in the end opposite the stairway provided heat, light and a place to cook.

The young couple entered into the life of the new community with vigor. Not only did they work with might and main to establish a home in this new frontier, but they were concerned for the welfare of their neighbors, a trait by which they would be known throughout their lifetime. Many times they invited less fortunate families to share with them the little they had.

Probably the only public building the Chidesters eery really knew in Spanish Fork was an adobe shcool house which was the first building to be erected there. Church was held in a bowery, a shelter that had been constructed of tree branches spread on a framework of poles. Such open air meeting places were the usual thing in new communities. Even conferences in Salt Lake were conducted for a number of years in sucha  bowery. During the winter months when the weather was too inclement for meeting in the bowery, the ward members met in small neighborhood meetings. If the meeting in their neighborhood was not held at his father’s (John Madison Chidester’s) home, it was usually held at the home of John P. and Susan.

Hannah Cornaby, pioneer authoress, tells of one snowy Sunday when she and her children were alone, lonesome and worried: “Brother John P. Chidester called to tell me of the meeting, offering to carry the children if I wished to go, adding that his wife, Susan, expected us to dinner after the service.”

In those early struggling years the young family experienced a grasshopper plague and the resulting famine. With others of the community they milked the sweet, sticky substance from the leaves of trees in Provo river bottom to add to their sparse diet.

With the eruption of the Walker Indian War of 1853 John was commissioned a Captain in the Nauvoo Legion. His wife and child, with other families, sought refuge and protection from Indian attack by living in the adobe school house. They dug roots for food and lived the best they could. Most of the men were away in camp and harvest had to be neglected.

Discipline as strict in the military encampment. Tempers flared easily and accusations were sometimes made without justification. Yet, these were men who had grown up in rough times and needed a stern hand. An incident of the Spanish Fork camp is recorded in Treasures of Pioneer Heritage, Carter, V 3, page 296:

A military trial of Private Pratt found guilty of stealing horse shoes. Punishment–guarded three days and to have a quart of cold water poured down his uplifted arms once a day. This was performed twice then remanded on plea of the prisoner.

There was another malicious charge preferred against Captain John P. Chidester of Palmyra but nothing proved against him. 24 July 1853

At home John and Susan were actively engaged in civic affairs as well as in the ward. John helped to build irrigation ditches, build fences, make roads, build a bridge across the river, and anything else required for the betterment of the community. He spoke at length at civic and church meetings to bolster flagging spirits and urge loyalty to church authorities.

The grasshopper plague of 1855, followed by drought, wrought such havoc that it is a wonder that the little community survived at all. Spring of 1856 saw potatoes selling for $3.00 per pushel and flour at $10.00 per hundred weight. The settlers sent to Fillmore to buy shorts and bran to sustain themselves until times could change. They barted their clothing and anything they could possibly spare in trade for food. It was during this trying time that the family was called on to bury their second child.

In spite of famine and hard times, the Mormons sustained themselves with celebrations. Especially for the Twenty-fourth of July. They gave thanks for the land they had come to inherit, for their religion and all that was good. What a great day that was, and oh how those pioneers could celebrate!

Following is an account of the Spanish Fork celebration of 24th of July, 1856 (the famine year) as published in the Deseret News:

At sunrise, a single volley, hoisiting flags and United States flag unfurled under the direction of the Committee of Arrangements.

At 7 guns announced the hour for assembling the people at the Bowery; at 8 procession was formed under the direction of James Wilkins, Marshal of the Day, assisted by Albert R. Thurber.

Order of mar;

1. Corp of police, front guard
2. Martial band
3. Bishop and suite with chaplain
4. Members of Zion’s Camp of 1834
5. Pioneers of 1847 and Mormon Battalion
6. Mayor of City Council with banner
7. Officers of the Nauvoo Legion
8. Committee of Arrangements
9. Father and Mothers in Israel
10. 12 young men dressed in black with banners
11. 12 young woment dressed in white with banners
12. Visitors
13. Citizens
14. Capt. John P. Chidester’s company of infantry, rear guard.

At 9, at the signal of the volley, the procession moved to the residence of the Bishop, formed in open order, received the Bishop and suite, with Chaplain of the day; music by the band.

The procession passed through the principal streets to the Bowery, where the Bishop and suite were seated; salute from the cannon.

Prayer by Elder John M. Chidester, Chaplain, Mr. Amos Stiles, orator of the day, delivered a spirited and able oration, subject THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, followed by interesting speeches by Messrs Zebedee Coltrin Lewis Barley, Levi M. Hancock and Mathew Caldwell.

An ode composed for the occasion was read by Samuel J. Raymond. Songs, toasts &c concluded the services of the forenoon.

Benediction by John M. Chidester

The famine years were so severe that the fall of 1858 saw the Chidester families and many others leaving Spanish Fork. The winder of 1858-59 John and his family lived on the Pratt farm in Parley’s Canyon, a sort of relocation center. In the spring of 1859 the little family moved back to Salt Lake City and settled in the old 16th Ward. There John earned a living by building spinning wheels.

In Salt Lake City two more children were born:

Lodema Elizabeth          born 9 Sep 1859
Myron Alfonzo                 born 6 Mar 1862

In November if 1859 John and Susan went to the Endowment House where they were endowed and sealed for time and eternity. Myron Alfonzo was their first child to be born in the covenant. There was no sealing of children performed until a temple was built. Accordingly, it was not until 24 Jan 1878 in Washington, Utah, that John could record in his book that “today we had our first four children adopted, they not being born under the covenant, John F., Mary Catherine, Susan Emma and Lodema Elizabeth, Susan Emma standing for Mary Catherine.”

A visit of President Brigham Young and other church authorities to the struggling community of Washington in southern Utah in the spring of 1861 resulted in the decision of the brethren to call more settlers to what had become “The Cotton Mission.” As early as 1855 the missionaries to the Indians at Santa Clara had demonstrated that cotton could be raised in the mild climate of Washington County. In 1857 the first group of settlers entered and established the town of Washington. They were mainly converts from the southern states with cotton raising experience. However, the battle with the problems of irrigation and the debilitating effects of malaria to which they were so subject, were so forbidding that most of these people soon moved elsewhere, leaving only a few to fight to make real the Prophet’s dream of an independent people. Accordingly, a committee was appointed to prepare new colonizers. The selection was made with an eye to providing the community with complete facilities for living. There was to be a gunsmith, a tailor, baker, carpenters, stone masons, shoemakers–all the skills essential to complete and independent living. At the October conference of 1861 a list of the families “called to the Cotton Mission” was made public. Among them was John P. Chidester, carpenter.

When called, John and Susan prepared to leave the comforts of Salt Lake City and embark on another pioneering venture. They had very little besides their devotion to each other, their faith in the Prophet, and four small children. Their resources were meager and there was a baby coming, so it took some time to prepare for the journey. It was fall of 1862 before the family was ready to leave.

The journey south was a pleasant one most of the way. It was a lark to sleep in the open under the star-lit sky. The Indians were at peace again and the young couple had high hopes for the future.

Beyond Cedar City, however, the road became more torturous. The Black Ridge with its deep, winding canyons and rocky hills defied the travellers. Many times llads had to be lightened so the oxen could pull the heavy wagons up a steep inclin, then the goods portered up. Brakes had to be applied on downgrades, and sometimes a decar or cypress tree attached to the wagon was used to slow the descent. At least once the wagon had to be lowered down a precipitous hill by the use of ropes.

Although other groups had passed this way before then and had tried to build a roadway, each rain that came carried away the loose, sandy soil exposing boulders that would have to be moved or covered up before the next vehicle could pass. Traveling to “Dixie” was a constant challenge.

The Chidesters reached Grapevine Spring on Christmas Day, and camped there to water and rest their weary animals and to gather their own strength for the remainder of the journey. Then on through Grapevine Pass they travelled to reach Washington 1 Jan, 1863. There they made camp on the banks of Hill Creek. They were home!

Even though they were met by yellowed, fever-ridden, discouraged inhabitants, the Chidesters knew they were in Washington to stay. Neither drought, famine nor malaria would conspire to make them desert the valley they had been called to settle. Every skill they possessed would be used to the utmost to meet the challenge of the country.

The first winter, their home was hte wagon box in which they had made the journey south. John worked hard to add a brush and sod shanty to ward off the icy winds and add room for his family to flex its muscles. He learned to work with adobe bricks and with rock to build more substantially and eventually, as the years passed, he was able to build a fine home for his family. It still stands in the heart of Washington to attest to his skills as a builder. The walls are thick and sturdy, protected those inside from the wintry blasts and from merciless summer sun alike. The woodwork of the interior shows skill and imagination. The timbers in the attic are sturdy and have withstood the ravages of time.

Four more children were born to John and Susan in this new homeland. The first, a son, Robert Edgar, was born 24 Sep 1864, in the trying and poverty stricken years of resettlement and famine. He died 3 Oct. 1865. The twins, Evaline and Emaline, were born 18 Feb. 1868; and Lucinda Jane joined the family 29 Aug. 1870.

John was quick to clear his land and begin planting, an activity so essential to his family’s survival. He planted cotton, of course, along with vegetables for the family and grain and hay for the cattle and for bread. He planted fruit trees which one day would permit him to go out on the highways as they were developed and improved, to peddle his produce to those who lived in areas where fruit would not grow so well. Grapes and peaches came to be the main cash crop. It was well enough to raise that which the family could use, but there also had to be commodities which could be converted into cash. Grapes and peaches were not only sold as fruit, but were used to make wine.

As early as 1866 the county court granted to William Theobald the right to distill grapes and peaches with the proviso that the license should be revoked if the distilling should prove subversive to the public morals.  Nearby Silver Reef, a minig town of indeterminate character, provided a ready market for the spirits, and many of the Saints, including John, entered into the wine making business. Much of it found its way into the northern districts where it was sold to migrant wagon trains for sorely needed cash. Wine of their own make was also used quite widely in the church sacrament services. The practice was banned in 1876. But for this reason, John could say that he made wine “for the church”. With the demise of Silver Reef and the replacement of the wagon train by railroad, wine making became less lucrative and eventually fruit was fruit again. Moreover, the usage of wine as a beverage had become so prevalent that the authorities counselled against its use in sacrament services and forbid its manufacture and use by the people.

In order to have farms it was necessary to provide water to irrigate the land. While Washington was blessed with ample water from springs for culinary and town garden purposes, water for the farms in the bottom lands, known as Washington Fields, must come from temperamental and unpredictable Virgin River. Since the founding of the settlement in 1857 there had been a constant and often failing battle to control the river. Brush and rock dams would be build only to be washed out in a spring flood, or by a cloud burst somewhere along the upper river that would send a devastating wall of water down the stream. Canals would be choked by silt and debris. So expensive was the process of keeping water in the fields that it is estimated that by 1869 the townspeople of Washington had expended more than $70,000.00 in water projects alone.

Each year John worked with his neighbors to build canals, clear them, build and repair dams. He usually was allowed $2.00 per day “ditch credit” for his work to be applied towards his water assessments.

In 1864 there was a drought. Even though the men worked hard on the ditches there was still no water. It was known as “the Starving Time.” The price of foodstuffs sky-rocketed. Corn meal sold for $15.00 per hundred weight; flour was $20.00 to $25.00 per hundred weight; molasses was $4.00 per gallon, etc. And there was no money to buy with! Somehow the family survived, except for the baby, Robert Edgar.

John’s skill as a carpenter was recognized early. He worked on most of the public buildings both in Washington and St. George. He built the old Tithing Barn and Granary which stood for many years on the southeast corner lot opposite the John D. Lee mansion. He helped to build the Stake Tabernacle in St. George, the school and chapel in Washington. From 1865-68 he was the chief carpenter and superintended the construction of the cotton factory, cutting the timbers and doing the mortise work all with hand tools.

By the time the cotton factory became operational the Chidester children were old enough that they began working there. The mother no longer had to spend most of her time spinning and weaving at home–the factory did it better and faster–and Susan found time to help out there, too. From then until its closing, the family took an active part in its operation. After it ceased to operate continuously it was the Chidester girls who hastened to man the looms when visitors came to see the mill.

They participated in another adventure at this time also–the culture of silk worms. Susan and her daughters converted the attic to the production of silk fiber, where they kept the worms and their cocoons. John planted mulberry trees close about the house so that in tending their charges the girls would only have to open the attic windows to reach out and pluck the mulberry leaves for the worms to feed on. Several of these trees still shade the lovely old house.

The family was close-knit and full of fun. They took their hardships stoically, made the best of them and enjoyed life. It was said in the cotton factory that Myron (the second son) kept the work from being hum-drum with his jokes. Both the boys, John Foy and Myron, played the fiddle and and combined with other musicians to provide music for the dances and celebrations. The people danced in their homes, in the old cotton gin mill at Enterprise and in other public buildings. They even danced on the hard Shinarump sand ledge which is now the spillway for the Washington Field Dam. In the early years this ledge had been worn smooth by the tramping, flailing and winnowing of grain and made a most acceptable dance floor for a summer’s evening of fun. They danced and sang their cares away. They enjoyed life and living.

In 1871 a new interest came to Dixie. Because of the troubles encountered in temple building in Salt Lake, it was decided that a temple should be rushed through to completion in St. George. Work missions were organized from all of southern Utah to spend time in St. George. They came from Sanpete, Fillmore, Beaver, Kanab, Rockville, Virgin City, Minersville, Panguitch, Cedar Springs, Washington, St. George and Santa Clara. John P. Chidester went daily to add his bit to the building of a House of the Lord. He superintended every bit of scaffolding from the beginning of construction till the finish.

During this period of time President Brigham Young instructed the people of Washington County to enter into the United Order way of living.  The towns were organized into individual orders on a voluntary basis. The complete order lasted for only a year, but it would seem that some functions carried over for a longer period of time. From the Journal History of the Church, dated Aug. 13, 1877, p. 2, the notes of clerk-historian James Bleak records:

Monday 13th At board meeting of the United Order held in St. George among other business it was decided Elder Eli Whipple be honourably released from the duties of Supt. of Mt. Trumbull Lumber making dept. and that he be Supt. of the Pine Valley department of the United Order.

On motion the appointment by the Presidency of the St. Geo. Stake appointing Elder John P. Chidester Supt. of Trumbull department was duly ratified.

This activity went hand in hand with John’s assignment at the temple.

As soon as the temple was completed and dedicated, John added a new activity to his calendar. He began assiduously to search out and do the work for his kindred dead. He and Susan went frequently to the temple. They encouraged their children to go, too, not waiting till they were married, but taking out their endowments as son as they were old enough so that they could go with him to the temple–a family united in all its activities. What a glorious day it must have been for him when he could write in his journal, “Today we had our four oldest children adopted to us”–cementing anew the family bond! He kept a faithful record of all work done–when, who the proxy was and his or her relationship to the dead, who performed the ordinance, who the witnesses were.

In 1878 John P. Chidester was elected to be councilor in the city government and served most ably.

John had been ordained an elder by his father, John Madison Chidester, in 1851 in Salt Lake City. On the 19th of Aug. 1869, in Washington, Utah, he was ordained a Seventy under the hand of John Young Sr.; and 19 Mar 1881 he was ordained a High Priest by Pres. Wilford Woodruff. The following day, Mar 20, 1881, he was set apart to be a counselor to Bishop Marcus Funk. This position he held until Dec. 8, 1888.

As spiritual leaders of the flock, the bishopric was more than ever involved in the temporal problems of the people. Bishop Funk was not only the spiritual head, he was also the Mayor and President of the Washington Field Canal Company. He knew the capabilities of his counselors and used them accordingly wherever he saw fit.

On 29 Aug. 1885, John P. Chidester, Anthony W. Ivins and Richard A. Morris were appointed to draft plans for the building of a pile dam on the Virgin River. They completed their assignment and presented the plans to the stockholders. The stockholders accepted the plans and authorized the board to proceed with construction.

John P. Chidester was appointed to explore the Pine Valley mountains to find suitable timbers for the project. This he did with dispatch and was then appointed superintendent of construction. He was to be paind $4.00 per day, part in labor (that is, in ditch credit) and part in “available means” (hay, grain, flour, orders on the Factory, or other commodities.)

Superintendent Chidester pushed the work forward as rapidly as he could, but many factors caused delays. There was indecision as to how to build the spillway, the inroads of malaria that sapped the strength of the workers, the lack of funds for so big an undertaking. It was an arduous undertaking. Most of the work had to be performed by the men standing waist-deep in the water of the river. In the spring especially, the water was ice cold. John worked by the side of his men, encouraging them by his presence as well as his words. By Jan 7, 1889 the stockholders received the report that the dam was completed. The canal had been finished earlier and some water had been turned out into the fields in 1887 and 1888. Now that the project was completed it was hoped that many more acres of land could be brought under cultivation.

Hopes were doomed to disappointment, however, for on 7 Dec. 1889, the largest flood ever known on the Virgin River ripped out the dam and twisted the piles as if they were straw. More than $10,000.00 and the sweat of many men were washed away as if rubble.

Again John P. Chidester was selected as a member of the committee to find a new site for a dam. The committee made its investigation and reached the decision that a dam could be built at a point where an outcropping of rock bordered the river on the north bank some three miles above the site of the Pile Dam. The plan called for making a rock and earth fill across the six hundred foot fiver bed to force the waters to find a new channel over the rock stratum on the right bank. Here it could be controlled and water secured for the canal. A spillway was to be cut in the rock stratum on the north side and an iron gate in the cut was to regulate the flow of water into the canal. The three men who formulated the plan were John P. Chidester, Charles W. Seegmiller and Isaac C. Macfarlane. A later revision of the plans placed the level of the canal six feet higher than originally planned. The executive committee of 1890, which included John P. Chidester, estimated the cost of the dam and canal to be $29,291.00. It was to cost considerably more than that before it was finished in 1891.

And at last the river was conquered. This diversion dam still functions. John had been in the field, working in the water with the men; he had helped to build the tunnels through which the canal would have to carry the life-giving water; and he had been there in executive sessions, making the decisions and bringing them to fruition. His brother David was to maintain later that it was this activity, especially in the tunnels of the canal, that brought on the heart condition which ended his life a few short years later.

After the completion of the dam and as his own health deteriorated, John contented himself to care for his farm and orchard, to make the yearly trips to peddle his fruit and molasses, and to work on his genealogy. At his death 10 Jan. 1897, he had compiled 1500 names and had done the temple work for most of them. He had sent names to the Manti temple for his brother, Joshua Parker, to do and had kept the entire family busy. This record he turned over to his eldest son, John Foy Chidester, with the admonition that he was to complete it as soon as possible.

In 1882 Susan Foy Chidester was sustained and set apart as Relieve Society president of the Washington Ward. She held that position until her husband’s death in 1897. She survived him ifve years, passing away in Panguitch, Utah, 14 July, 1902, at the home of her son, John F. Chidester. She was buried in Washington beside her husband. Susan and John had completed their call to the “Cotton Mission.”

Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

This story researched and written by Thelma Chidester Anderson, May 1972. 

Life & Career of John Foy Chidester

John Madison Chidester was the son of John Peck Chidester, born 22 Jan 1809 in Pompey, Onondaga Co., N.Y. Came to Utah in 1850.

Married Mary Parker in New York (daughter of Joshua Parker of New Haven, Conn.)  Their children were: John Peck, David, Eunice, Darwin, Joshua and Ester. Was a Walker Indian War Veteran. Carpenter and millwright. Died 30 Aug 1883, Washington Co., Utah.

John Peck Chidester, born 23 Dec 1831, Somerfield, Monroe Co., Mich. Came to Utah in 1850. Married Susan Foy 23 Oct 1851, at Salt Lake City, Utah (daughter of Thomas B. Foy and Catherine Fink, pioneers of 1851) She was born 4 Apr 1831, Wheatfield, Indiana Co., Pa. their chidlren were: John Foy, Susan Emma, Lodema, Elizabeth, Mary Catherine, Edgar, Emeline, Eveline, and Myron. Family home in Washington Co, Utah. Bishops counselor. Veteran Black Hawk Indian War. Carpenter and farmer. Died 10 Jan 1897.

JOHN FOY CHIDESTER was born at Spanish Fork, Utah Co., Utah 2 Feb 1853, but while yet very young the family moved to Washington Co., where he had experiences peculiar to the pioneer development of the state. He shared in the ahrdships and privations incident to the settlement of the frontier and attended the schools of the locality, but the school system had at that time been developed only to a limited degree. He used to walk to St. George and back everyday, getting there in time to make the fire as he was the janitor and kept the key to the school house.

His father being a carpenter made his own violin but was very particular about letting anybody else handle it, in fact he told the children not to touch it but John being very anxious to play this instrument and having two very willing accomplices — his mother and more especially his aunt — (whenever his father would go away from home) would assist him in getting the violin to practice on. This went on for some time until John could play every tune that his father could play. His aunt rejoicing in this knowledge approached the father with the word that Johnny could play every tune that he himself knew. He could hardly believe this so the two made arrangements for him to pretend to go off while she would have John get the violin out and play – the father to come back and listen. At the conclusion of his playing and while he yet had the violin in his hands, the father appeared in the doorway. Of course the son was very much disturbed imagining all kinds of dire calamities to be heaped upon his head, but not so with the father for he was so surprised and even more pleased that he gave John the violin right there and then and gave him lessons on it. John having learned only by ear.

He entered public life in Washington Co. as a constable and afterwards followed various avenues of endeavor until 1883, one of them being the leasing of a ranch in Nevada for about three years at the end of which he traded his crops for about fifty ponies taking them to Washington and trading them or selling them so that he was able to buy him a home. He then moved to Panguitch, Garfield, Utah and determined to make the practice of law his life work. He there pursued his reading of Kent, Blackstone and other commentaries and in 1885 was admitted practice before the Supreme bench of the state. He followed his profession for ten years prior to admission of the state into the Union and with the vital problems which came up for settlement concerning the transformation of Utah from a territory to a state he was closely, prominently and helpfully associated. He served as a member of the constitutional convention while a member of that body he made a determined fight for womans suffrage and other progressive measures. He was afterwards elected state senator from Garfield Co., to the first general assembly in 1896 and aided in the adjustment of public policy and interests of the new statehood. Before that, however, he was county clerk and recorder, also treasurer and city attorney two years when his term as senator had expired he was elected district attorney of the sixth judicial district which office he held for ten years. He was the first Republican chariman of Garfield Co., and also delivered the first Republican speech in the county after the division on national party lines. In 1902 he was appointed judge of the sixth judicial district to succeed W.M. McCarty who had been elected a member of the supreme court, and upon exiration of his appointive term he was elected and remained upon the bench for ten years. In 1911 he became the candidate of his party for member of congress but was defeated by a small vote. In 1912 he was appointed a member of the state land board and served until his death. Through out the entire period of his public service his course was marked by the most earnest devotion to duty – a devotion that manifested itself in close study of every vital situation or problem and unfaltering effort to bring about the best results for the commonwealth.

In his church work, too, the same energy and capacity were displayed as in the other fields in which he labored. He served as a missionary to the Southern States for two years; also as a M.I.A. missionary to the Sanpete and Sevier Stakes for six months. He was superintendent of the Panguitch ward.

Brief Biography of John Worthen who Arrived in Utah in 1852

by Zenna Worthen Buttle – Granddaughter

John Worthen was born 22 July, 1817 at Northwich, Cheshire, England. He was the son of Richard Worthen and Mary Cowap. He had seven brothers and sisters. Their names are Samuel Richard, William, James, Robert, Richard 2nd, Joseph.  The sisters are Jane and Mary Worthen.

Richard, the father of John, was a shoemaker by trade. Richard’s father was Richard Nicols, a soldier who died in Foriegn Wars while fighting under the British Flag. Richard’s mother was Martha Worthen. Later Martha married William Chrimes and had issue.

John Worthen, my Grandfather, was married to Hannah Elam, who was born 28 July, 1816, Frodsham, Cheshire, England, on March 25, 1839 in the same town. He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1840: was baptized by William Berry and was ordained a Priest in 1841.

John Worthen with his wife and their twho children Henry and Ann, along with his father Richard and his mother and brother and sisters migrated to Navoo, Illinois in 1841. Grandfather was a stone mason or builder and he built a fine home in Navoo, Illinois planning on living there the rest of his life. On the property he owned was a large ravine. He planned on building a stone vault in this ravine which would serve as a burial place for his entire family.

He worked on the Navoo Temple and was working in the Navoo House when the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed.  Grandfather often told of the time when Joseph Smith’s likeness fell on Brigham Young when he was being sustained as President of the Latter Day Saint Church.

Grandfather was ordained a Seventy in the ninth Quorum 8 October 1844, by B. L. Clapp.

He was driven out of Navoo by the mob with the last of the Saints that were driven that dreadful night across the icy river about April 1845. He and his family along with his Mother and brothers and isters went to Des Moines, Iowa and there his wife died and he buried her in Augusta, Des Moines, Iowa. She had another son Peter William born in Navoo and died after giving birth to a stillborn baby “Eva Lucy” 10 February 1847. John buried her with full confidence that they would meet in the first resurrection.

On November 12, 1848, Grandfather married Amanda Maria Hartson who was born at Mansfield, Toland, Connecticut, on August 3, 1820. They were married at Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa.

When Richard 2nd. and Joseph Worthen, brothers of John were crossing the river at Augusta, Iowa to go to Sunday School they were swept off the ferryboat and were drowned. This was April 18, 1849.

When the Mormons were driven from Nauvoo, John did not have enough money to go west. He went to New Orleans and worked at his trade as a stone and brick mason, a trade which was very popular and in demand at the time. He planned on earning enough money to buy an outfit to come West.

Richard, his father died 2 or 12 September 1845. Jane, his sister died in New Orleans. James died 1850 and Robert his other brother died 31 April 1849.

After laboring long enough in New Orleans to buy an outfit, John, his wife Amanda and his mother Mary Cowap Worthen migrated to Utah by ox team. They arrived in Salt Lake in 1852.

There were twelve children born to John and Amanda. Three of them Laura Maria, Clarinda Augusta and Emily Jane were born in Iowa. The other nine children – Alonzo, Heber, John Alvin Edwin Eugene, George Lucian, Mary Elizabeth, Josephine Henrietta, Mary Horatio, Clarence Edger and Richard Reuben were born in Salt Lake City, Utah.

After arriving in Salt Lake City, grandfather worked on the Temple. He was foreman on the Temple block for a number of years, and also the custodian of the tabernacle for many years. He always attended church every Sunday afternoon in the Tabernacle and they used to pass the sacrament.

Grandfather was one of the first contractors in Salt Lake City, Utah. He helped lay the rocks for Brigham Young’s grave. He also built homes for President Brigham Young, John Taylor, Bishop Hunter and many others.

On Sunday May 30 1858 Grandfather married his third wife, Mary Ellen Midgley, my Grandmother. Mary Ellen Midgley was born at Almondbury, Yorkshire, England, 15 September 1831.

Seven children were born to them, Walter Rufus, Charles Herbert, Eliza Alice, Sarah Emeline, Hannah Sophia, Adelina Bertha and Joshua Milton Worthen, my father.

John Worthen was ordained one of the presidents of the ninth Quorum of Seventies, 22 June 1875 by Brother Rockwood. He was set apart as one of the presidents in the twenty-third Quorum of Seventies, 13 December 1883. He was ordained a High Priest 30 May 1891 by Elias Morris.

John Worthen built a house on E Street and 1st Avenue, a double house, two stories, five romes on each side. There he lived with his two wives and families; His home was built in the 20th Ward. My father, Joshua Milton, was born there. The house is still standing (March 1949). The lot was about a forth of the block. Here Grandfather had a garden that was of the finest in the 20th ward. He had a large barn with cows and pigs. He took the milk to the tithing office and received $1.00 for 20 quarts. My father said he raised some of the finest strawberries in the valley.

While living here with his two families, grandfather fell from a building and was badly hurt. He got rheumatism along with this trouble and he thought he was not going to live very long so he made out a will. One night he was reading this will to my grandmother and as there was such a thin wall between the other wife’s part of the house, Amanda, the other wife could hear him reading. In the will he had written that when he died if the time came when one of the wives had to move because they could not live in peace in the same house, that the one who remained in the house would have to pay for the other wife’s rent, which had to move out of the house.

His wife Amanda became angry and sent to a lawyer, who was a Mormon Hater, and he took her case. At this time the Edmund-Tucker law was in affect, a law which disenfranchised all women who were married in polygamy. Grandfather and Grandmother had been married in the Endowment House and he knew that all would be Amanda’s by law. He did not even appear at the trial and Amanda got possession of the home and the property. Then Amanda’s children put grandfather out of his house. Amanda received her divorce from grandfather. Then on the 23 March 180 my grandfather and Mary Ellen Midgely, my grandmother were married by the law.

He then moved around with his family and grandmother in different places for awhile in Salt Lake City until he finally built his last house on the secont West just below 7th South – 721. The house is still standing. He was seventy years old at this time.

He then sent one of his sons, Charles Herbert Worthen on a mission to the Southern States. Just at the time that his son was to be released from his mission he died and they held his body in refrigeration for eight days until his son could get home for funeral.

On 23 April 1893 John Worthen, the father of twenty two children died at the age of 76 years. My father said he had a wonderful dad.

All his brothers and sisters had died by 1868 except for Samuel. In grandfather’s diary he has written the dates that he was baptized for his five brothers who had died, which was 18 September 1868 and his Mother was baptized for his sister the same day.

Samuel Worthen, the brother had three wives and twenty eight children. He settled with his families in Southern Utah. Before grandfather built his last home he lived at 350 East 7th South, about a year. Then he moved to Rarriet’s House by the Bamburger Tracks between North and South Temple on 2nd WEst, then moved by Wasatch Springs and Sixth North.

The above information was given to me by my father Joshua Milton Worthen. My grandfather died before I was born. The following information is given in the Church Historian’s office – Reference Bio. Ency. Vol 3:165 p. ans P.M. of Utah 1039.

John Worthen and give others crossed the plains in the 20th company – Henry W. Miller, Captain J. H. Dec. 31 1852. Supplement page 127. He is listed as one man, one woman, four children, one wagon, and eight cattle.

Autobiography of Adell Christensen Brown with biographical notes added by her husband Arnon

May 24, 1959 – Today is Cathy’s birthday.

I have been going to start my life history for such a long time. So today I thought I would get started.

I was born Feb 18, 1893 at Monroe, Seveir Co., Utah. Of all the months in the year, why should it be February? Never could have a birthday party. It was always too cold or too much snow. We had a lot of snow then.

My Father and Mother were both converts to the Latter-Day Saint Church. They were both born in Denmark. My Father was born Feburary 2, 1839 at Fjellerup, Fjelsted, Denmark. My Mother was born Feb. 11, 1853, at Galtad, Jutland, Denmark.

I am the seventh child in the Family. There were 3 boys and 6 girls. From what I was told, I was a beautiful baby, my father called me his little “black bird,” because I had such long, black hair. When I was a baby I had red measles and my eyes were closed for over a week, my Mother was very worried about me, because I had a cousin, Savannah Anderson (Lundgreen) had red measles, her eyes were closed over a week and when they opened, one eye had popped out and looked so awful, so no wonder my Mother worried about me.

At the age of 3 or 4 I went out to the coral and an old Buck lamb came after me and I was told he bunted 14 holes in my head. The lamb was killed and the head was placed on a pole – every time I saw that head I would cry and run to the house. I was a very happy child but I guess I had a mean streak in me to. We had a very happy childhood.

When I was six years old I started to school I did not want to go, so for two weeks my mother took me to school every morning with a stick. After that they could never get me to stay home. I always had 100% attendance. I received merrit cards for good attendance. I always liked to walk home with the teachers. I always liked the teachers, but I don’t remember if I was ever the teachers pet. I had a lot of very good teachers. I always liked Miss Jacobsen first grade teacher, Nora Clauson – Then Jacob Magleby 4th grade teacher. He was kind and considerate. He always had a dew drop on his nose. One teacher A. V. Jones would spend all day reading stories to us. A Mr. Ralph Cloward was one I did not care for much so very hot headed. He would really shake the kids up. I was not fortunate to get a shaking up from him.

I the 8th grade I had the best teacher, he was A. J. Ashman, I learned so much from him, we all just loved him even the boys. We would even go to the school room on Saturday’s, just to be around him. In 1909 my Father died when I was in the eighth grade. A cousin came from Kamas to live with us, there was mother with 5 girls so we needed a man to help us. His name was Edward Simpson, then another cousin Erastus Nielson came also and spent the winter with us. Father died Jan. 12, 1909. James my brother was away on a mission to Denmark when Father died. We had so many cows to milk. So it was up to us girls to help with the farm work. The only thing I never did anything about was plowing. I cut hay, raked hay, hauled the hay – it was my job to run the unloading fork. W ehad to milk then run the separator. I sure loved cream, I would sometimes put my mouth on the cream spout and let the cream run down. We had to thin beets, hoe the beets, I used to ride the horse to guide him while they run the cultivator through the beets to make furrows. I would get so sleepy riding that at times I would go to sleep on the horse. We also helped dig the beets and cut the tops off. Enoch Larsen also worked fro us, he never liked to milk. He was a very good hired man. We also had a half brothers boy work for us when he did something he was not supposed to do he would talk so nice to our Father and complain to Father and tell him we did things we did not do. We were not permitted to stay out later than 9:00. If we heard the curfew ring before we got home, we would be afraid the cop would get us and put us in the jail. (I wish the children were like that now.) I believe I did everything there was on a farm to do – milk cows, cut hay – rake hay, haul hay then unload it from the wagon, haul grain – well everything. Oh was fun it was when we had the thrashers. Mother up so early in the morning to get breakfast for the thrashers. Then a big meal at noon – they just cooked everything – how I did like to eat after the thrashers had left the table. Of course we helped with the dishes. Sometimes they would stay on the job of thrashing for 3 or 4 days. That was a lot of hard work for Mother. The thrashers would take everything around the place. We would always pick our fruit so they would not eat them all. Our watermelons would sure suffer. Then if they found any chicken nests with eggs in they would suck them, that is swallow the raw eggs. But oh it was fun to have them come.  Like I told my oldest sister’s beau. “We always had more to eat when the thrashers came – it was just because there was so much of it” Kistie sure gave me a push in the ribs.

I do not know when my time to return to my Heavenly Father will be. I am not afraid to die – but I wish I had spent more time in my younger days in serving the Lord. I have been doing a lot. We cannot do too much. Every spare hour should be put into doing something – Read a lot help one a lot.

I do not know which would go first Arnon or I. He could get along better than I. – but I would hate to leave him. He needs me around to boss him around and keep him clean.

By Adell Christensen Brown

Notes from Arnon

Adell was born 18 Feb. 1893 at Monroe, Sevier Co., Utah. She was the daughter of Christian Christensen Brown and Anna Johansen Nielsen Brown.  Her Father’s name Brown is an adopted name, taken from a man he worked for otherwise it would have been Christensen.

Adell’s Father and Mother came from Denmark. They were both converts to the Church. Her father was born the 2nd of February 1839 and her mother 11 of February 1853.

Her Mother was left a widow at the age of 53. She raised her family and educated them and gave them the advantages that she didn’t have.

Her father came to America in 1863. Settled in Sanpete County and later in Sevier. He was one of the first settlers of Monroe. Adell was born and raised in Monroe.

Early life in separate book


Addell completed the elementary school and went two years to high school in Monroe and completed her High School at the Snow Academy. She attended the University of Utah to prepare herself to be an elementary teacher.

She taught school three years, one in Joseph and two years in Elsinore. She was a marvelous seamstress. She clerked in Monroe Mercantile Store. She worked in the Lab at the Sugar Factory. This is where she met Arnon.


She was the Secretary in the Relief Society Second Ward in Richfield. Max was a baby at the time. She would take him with her and lay him on the bench. He was called Relief Society Baby. This was in 1921. She was secretary until the ward was divided.

Then she worked in the Primary for years. Being President for one year.

Notes from Arnon: Temple Work – Fishing

Same Presidnet Cannon married her parents, my parents and also us. Lilly Moe Begody lived with us three years. Indian work in the Church. Wonderul wife and mother of seven children. Garden and flower work. Married in St. George Temple Sept. 10, 1919 by Pres. Cannon. He also married Adell’s parents and mine. Met Adell while working at the Sugar Factory. I had to go to Monroe and haul Adell and two other girls to work. We had many trips togther in camper and planes.

We were making plans for fishing trip just four days before she died. Always had some of the Navajo boys or girls come stay with us when they would come up from the Reservation during the summer. They all felt right at home at all times.


John Worthen’s Autobiography

John Worthen, son of Richard Worthen and Mary Cowap, his lawful wife according to the laws of England, was born 22 July 1817, in the town of Northwich, Cheshire, England.

Being of a nervous sanguine and bilious temperment with rather a preponderance of the bilious, which physiologist say give greather strengt and activity of the mild. In my boyish days I was called a good quiet boy. But according to my own recollection, I know that energy and a determination to accomplish any object which I might take in hand was a ruling characteristic of my life. And that same feature has clung to me up to manhood even till now March 1856. And as I grow older the more I admire energy and determination to accomplish an object (provided it be a lawful one) for it is that principle that will enable us to overcome every difficulty and gain life eternal to come up through much tribulation.

My father was at times given to drinking but for some reason I inherited a different disposition, I suppose from my Mother. To me the taste of drink (intoxicating drink) was unpleasant and I had no desire for it. And so strong was this trait of character in me that when my father was once visited by a leading member of the Temperance Society with a request to sign the pledge of Obsistance from all entoxicating drinks, he refused through fear of not being able to keep it, that when the advocate turned to me I told him I had no need of the pledge. For having once read that intoxicating drinks was no only harmful to the body but drowned and stupefied the intellect, I had resolved previous to then that I needed all the intellect that I could command, for I was a complete book worm. I studied much to inform and enlarge my mind. But afterwards did drink. My father once spoke harshly to me for making so much noise when learning to play the flute, I never afterwards took it up to play while I lived at home. The consequence was I went into company and it was for the love of the company of my associates that caused me to drink. And I do believe had I not met with a good wife, whom I loved I must have been overcome.

I joined the Methodists, prayed and wept much, felt happy in a small degree, but no better than a moral man ought to do. Could never attain unto that testimony that some of the leaders said they had received, gave it up for a deception or an excited state of feelings. I settled down for a life of reading and making home comfortable. I heard that my parents had joined the Dippers. I met a man one morning who asked me if I knew where the Latter Day Saints or Dippers preached? I was told by a friend that they dipped overhead to save people. That they said Heaven would be on the earth after the resurrection. To show the folly (I thot) of this I read a book of infant baptism against immersion to a crowd of fellow workmen who took me for a criterion. Considering me well informed from extensive reading, told them if such simple means would save, we could all do ourselves when bathing. But praise the Lord he soon caused me to read the truth for myself. For being the one appointed to fire the cannons at a wedding got my ankle put out of joing, was carried near to my father’s house. While a cripple I requested my mother to bring me something to read. She brought me the “Voice of Warning” by Parley P. Pratt, the Lord enlighted my mind. I believed as fast as I read, it was full of Bible proofs, the Bible was sacred to me. As soon as my ankle got well I went and heard a Mormon Elder, got baptized and while the brethren and sisters sung the hymn: “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”, “Zion City of Our God”. and went on to “The Heavenly Joys and Lasting Pleasures none but Zion’s Children Know”, the tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt like choking so great was my joy. Here a new source of ambition awakened itself in my mind. I searched the Bible for proofs of the girst principles of the gospel (“Mormonism”) carried a small Bible (with the text marked) in my pocket, stood up boldly in defense of the truth. Debated with a Holy pride with any of the old Secacians with whom I worked. Wrote letters and sent Mormon Books to many of the Sectarians round where I lived. Was ordained a priest, preached with all the enthusiasm of one that is confident of having the truth in his possession. Was saved several times by my Guardian Angle from falling into place’s where I would have drowned, when returning home in the night fatigued and sleepy after being out to preach. Sold out at a considerable loss. Set sail for the land of Zion, preached on board of ship to the brethren on the Word of Wisdom, on the use of strong drink for some of them was making too free a use of it. Vexed some of my relations through it.

Landed at Warsaw where the company felt like staying because of the leeks and onions. Set out alone for Navoo. The second morning took back a good report which caused the most of them to go on to Navoo. I arrived there with twenty-five cents in my pocket. I used to walk through the city every day looking for work, began to feel the want of bread. Returning home tired and hungry one day I told the Lord I would not murmer. I had gathered in accordance with His will. The saying of an Apostle came to my mind, “After much tribulation cometh the blessings”. Went on rejoicing, the Lord opened my way and though I often went to work on the Temple without eating, I never got starved to death but tried to keep up with every advance of the church. Often went hungry, often well filled, often divided with my brethren. Shouldered my musket, was out in all kinds of weather, heat or cold, wet and in thunder storms, at the midnight hour when the vivid lightening flash seemed to play along the weapon of death which I carried. Stood firm in defense of myself, wife and little ones and my brethren with resolution to conquer or die in the struggle. Cared not if all hell bailed over me as big as the deluge and swept me away. One precious hope clung to me which bouyed me up, that if they destroyed my body God was able and would from the masses of destruction collect the particles of truth or in other words my soul.

I agreed to work on the Temple until it could be dedicated if I had to live on parched or boiled corn. Did so. By the aid of poverty clung to Navoo like steel to loadstone, until after the last struggle. When the mob waked the last spark of energy in me and though sick with death or recovery would have been a favor, made me push ahead. Although every load I carried to the ferryboat made me for the time blind, the land guided me through the valley and shadow of death and set my face firm toward the west.

Played a game of yewker with the Gentiles until I made a fit out.

Recorded Book 909th Quo. Seventies Biog. Rec 1873 p. 73-76 Copied from the early seventies Biographical Record in the Archives of the Geneological Society of Utah.

The early SEventies Biographical Record are in a very worn out condition and very hard handle because of the paper falling into pieces. The Autobiography was typed by the church people from the record which was worn.

Biography of Samuel Worthen

Written by Elizabeth Worthen Henderson of Panguitch, Utah

Samuel Worthen, the son of Richard Worten and Mary Cowap, was born December 21, 1825 at Northwich, Cheshire, England. When a boy about ten years of age, he went as an apprentice to learn the trade of a mason, and through his training he became a master mechanic of the trade. He, in connection with his Mother, brothers and sister, emigrated from England to the United States when he was a young man. They joined the church in England in 1840.

In the year of 1844, when eighteen years old, he married Sarah Hallam in the East, likely in Illinois, as their two first children were born at Nauvoo. A year before leaving the States, two of his brothers, Richard II and Joseph, were drowned in the Des Moines river in Iowa. His only sister died in New Orleans.

In the year of 1850, his family together with his Mother and brother John came to Utah and settled in Salt Lake City. On April 27, 1856, he married Maria Louisa Grow of that city. While residing there, he became a clerk in the store owned by Giblert and Barish. He was a member of the brass band and acted as a bugler during the Echo Canyon Campaign.

About 1862, he was called to help settle the Dixie Country, so he sold his farm at Centerville, that being where Aunt Maria was living, and settled on a ranch about half way between Harmony and Kanarra which was known as the “Worthen Springs”. He later took his first wife, Sarah to St. George where she made her home, leaving Maria at Harmony. The first Co-op store in St. George was held in the basement of what was known as the Bighouse and later the Dixie Hotel. Father was hired to clerk in this store. His daughter, Mrs. Eliza Judd, and her husband later owned the Hotel. The goods for this store were brought from California by team.

He went to Salt Lake City in the year 1864 and worked in the Godbe Store. While there he met and married his thrid wife, Jane Osborne. The were married in the Salt Lake City Endowment House on February 4, 1865. A year and a half after this, he brought her to Harmony to make her home.

In the year 1873, he left Harmony with his two families, with the intention of going to Long Valley, but upon arriving at Panguitch on the 9th of May of that year, he was persuaded by Uncle Jim Henrie and Bishop Sevy and others to remain here, so he moved into the old Fort. Later, building a house on the lots now owned by Brandon Shakespeare, and still later purchased the lot across the street west from the school house and built a two room log house, which was replaced by brick house later in 1883, and which is still standing an occupied by Joe Gale Houston and family. He built the meeting house in Panguitch, and also the Tabernacle, Relief Hall, the old Co-op store and all the brick houses in Panguitch, except Uncle John Imlay’s, until the year 1882, when Henry Excell came from England and assisted in the work. They are all monuments of his splendid skill and workmanship.

He worked on the Tabernacle at St. George in the year 1871, and on the Temple in 1875. He also worked on the Manti Temple in 188_. He also built houses in a number of cities between Salt Lake City and St. George, and in every settlement between Panguitch and St. George, also at Minersville and many other places.

He served six months in the State Penitentiary for having more than one wife. After being released from the Penitentiary, he worked three months in Salt Lake City in the Z.C.M.I. shoe store. On his way home, he came by Beaver and Minersville, and on this trip he contracted a severe cold. When he arrived at his home in Panguitch, Utah, he was seriously ill. He lived only two days after his arrival home.

He died at his house in Panguitch, Utah on February 2, 1888, of Black Quincy. He was buried in the city cemetery of Panguitch on February 4, 1888. No funeral was held for him as people were afraid he had some contagious disease, however funeral services were held for him the next day February 5.

He was the father of 28 children. He has 145 grandchildren and a large number of great grandchildren, and also great-great-grandchildren.

He was loved and respected by all who knew him because of his honesty and general disposition. He was very quick spoken and easily angered. He was an early riser, and what spare time he had he spent in cultivating flowers and vegetable gardens. He especially took delight in the flowers. He loved to dance and took delight in the amusement. Besides being a stone and brick mason, he worked at the shoemaker’s trade. It was said of him at his funeral services that he had many friends and few, if any, enemies.

He and Sara came over in the same ship and were acquainted in England. He was a seventy.

Richard Worten and Mary Cowap were among the first converts to join the Latter-Day Saints Church in England in 1840. When the missionaries were there preaching the Gospel, they were valiant, they heard the truth and were willing to come to Zion.

Richard Worthen was born September 12, 1793, in Northwich, Cheshire, England. He was the son of Richard Nicols and Martha Worthen. His wife Mary Cowap was born July 27, 1797, the same place. She was the daughter of William Cowap and Pheobe Burrows. They had eight children born to them. John, Jane, Richard, Samuel, James, Robert, Richard, and Joseph Worthen. All the children came to Nauvoo with their parents, and also John’s wife, Hannah Elam and their two children Henry and Ann came to Nauvoo in 1842.

They settled in Nauvoo and in 1845, Richard died.

There have been two more children to this family found by our researcher in England and the work has been done for them.

History of Kanarra Ward

The year 1861, John D. Lee’s first settlement was located on Ash Creek. This was abandoned during the Walker Indian War in 1853. Then was resettled in the fall of 1853, by John D. Lee, Charles Dalton, Elisha H. Groves, William R. Davis with their respective families. They raised a crop there in 1854, then spent the winter of 1854-1855 on Ash Creek. Then the settlement changed location in accordance of suggestions of Brigham Young who advised that a settlement be located farther north where Fort Harmony was later built. In the summer of 1854 building was commenced on the new location. That year a number of Indian Missionaries were called to Southern Utah. (Of course at this time no part of the Mormon locations were either a Territory or State.)

Old Fort Harmony which stood on a hill north of Ash Creek consisted only of a few shanties. The location of Fort Harmony was too far from water. The settlers could not depend on Ash Creek, the water from Kanarra creek to the north would evaporate as well as sink in the sand before the settlers could secure it for culinary or irrigating purposes. Hence they concluded to change the location.

Kanarra was first settled in the Spring of 1861. First settlers as follows: Eliasha H. Groves and family, William R. Davis and family, James G. Davis and family, John R. Davis and family, a number of others who moved up from Fort Harmony and located on Kanarra Creek about a mile north of the present location. Soon after other settlers came from Toquerville, among whom were Josiah Reeves and family, Samuel Pollock and family, Willis Young and family, John H. Willis and family, (other whose names were not mentioned.

These settlers went to work the same year planting crops which yielded a bounteous harvest. In the fall season Eliasha H. Groves acted as President of the settlement. From the beginning he held meetings in private homes. These homes were built of logs. From it’s beginning the settlement belonged to the Cedar City Ward.

In 1862 a log school house was erected at Kanarra. Sept 1862 Pres. Young visited Kanarra as he was enroute to St. George. John V. Long the scribe of the Pres. party wrote the following: (Deseret News, 12: – 104.)

After meeting (held at Cedar City) we traveled on to Kanarra, a distance of 12 miles. This is a name that was of a Piede Indian Chief. Who is still about that part of the Territory. There are 13 families at this settlement which Geographically is a little north of the rim of the Great Basin.

Kanarra was settled in 1861. Here we met Dr. Whitmore on his way to Cedar City. A meeting was held and Bp Lunt who came over from Cedar with us opened with prayer. The president then preached one of the most heavenly discourses we heard while on this journey. All felt happy and rejoiced together. A kind and liberal spirit prevailes in this little settlement. In the company was Lorenzo Snow, George A. Smith, John Taylor, and Ezra T. Benson.

(In May 1863 Lyman O. Littlefield visited Kanarra who wrote the following: (Deseret News, Vol 12, 368.)

We halted at Kanarra for the night. Here resides my father, Waldo Littlefield, whom I now took by the hand for the first time in eleven years. I found him enfeebled by age and the toil of years. Together with the sufferings, robbings, privations, and drivings of the saints which he has so liberaly shared for 30 years.

Elisha H. Groves presided at Kanarra from it’s beginning and in 1866 when Lorenzo W. Roundy took charge as Bishop, he came from Long Valley with others who had been driven away on account of Indian troubles. Bro. Roundy after vacating Long Valley started for St. George. But while on his way he met Apostle Erastus Snow, who requested him to go to Kanarra and preside.

Lorenzo W. Roundy complied with his counsel, changed his plan and arrived at Kanarra in July 1866. Being placed in charge of the settlement, he at once took steps toward building a new town. A townsite was surveyed and the first who had located about a mile north, now moved to the present location, building their houses in Fort stayle, around the block known as the public square. Lorenzo W. Roundy was ordained and set apart as Bishop of Kanarra Ward Sept 29, 1867, by Apostle Erastus Snow.

In 1867 some of the people who had built houses inside the Kanarra Fort began to move our to their city lots while some remained two and some 3 years longer.

Albert E. Griffin and John H. Willis were Counselors to Bp. Roundy, Bro. Griffin having acted as counselor with Bp. Roundy at Long Valley. Soon after his arrival at Kanarra, Bro. Willis was chosen as the other counselor.

Bp. Lorenzo W. Roundy never changed Counselors nor was he ordained Bp. until he has presided at Kanrra for some time. The first settlers of Kanarra built in a string town fashion and lived thus until 1866 when Bp. Roundy and the Kanab settlers arrived from Long Valley.

When the present townsite was surveyed and the newcomers settled on the new site, the older ones moved from their first location onto the new townsite. All in the same year.

The settlers also moved their log meeting house with them. This served for all public purposes, meetings, school socials for a number of years. This meeting house was finally destroyed by fire, the work of an incendiary, a step-daughter of Bro. Pollock, the Ward Records, including her step-fathers private papters. This caused great historic loss to the people.

Patriarch Elishah H. Groves the first Presiding Elder of Kanarra and Church Veteran, died at Kanarra Dec 20, 1868.

The Indians made raid on the town of Kanrra Sunday, 31 Oct 1869, driving off numbers of horses.

On one occasion of a visit by Pres. Young to Kanarra April 7, 1874 (?) a branch of the United Order was organized with Lorenzo Roundy as president.

After the death of Lorenzo Roundy May 24, 1876, Bro. Griffin and John H. Willis took temporary charge of the Kanarra Ward until the Fall of 1876 when Wallace W. Roundy was appointed by Pres. Young to preside at Kanarra. Subsequently he was ordained a bishop and set apart to this position by Wilford Woodruff.

Samuel Pollock, the ward clerk kept records on slips of paper which were finally lost and destroyed thr the perfidy of his step-daughter.

In 1877 Wallace W. Roundy was sustained as Bishop of Kanrra Ward, with William S. Berry as first counselor and Myron S. Roundy as second.

September 23, 1883 William patterson Willis was ordained Bp. of Kanarra Ward. He retained the same counselors as his predecessor.

History of Kanarraville
(Extract taken from the Harmony Ward History.)

In the mean time the people of Harmony Ward found out the waters of Ash Creek would evaporate by being conveyed in ditches a long distance to the Harmony farming lands: so the Brethren decided to locate a settlement nearer the head of Kanarra Creek. This was accomplished in the Spring of 1861. The New Settlement was named Kanarra, honoring an Old Indian Chief. About the same time in 1861 & 1862 John D. Lee moved farther up on Harmony Creek and thus laid the foundation for what, in the beginning was known as New Harmony; but now generally known as Harmony.

Biography of Joseph Ellison Beck

(Compiled and condensed from histories previously turned into the Organization, together with correction of dates, etc. synonamous with the family group sheets of Joseph Ellison Beck) Allen L. Beck 1966

Joseph Ellison Beck was born 31 May, 1810 in New Hanover Township, Burlington Co., New Jersey. He was the 2nd child born to James and Hannah (Antram or Antrim) Beck. His other brothers and sister were John Antram, Thomas Bowne, William Clayton, James Baites, and Mary Comac Beck.

James Beck established business interests in the meat processing industry and likewise Joseph Ellison Beck at an early age became involved in business affairs and there is record that he was connected with a meat packing business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On the 17th day of Dec 1835, Joseph took as his wife Hannah Harrison Forsyth. They were married in the County of Burlington, New Jersey. The children of this marriage were: Thomas Harrison, Anna or Hannah Lucilla, Alfred R. M., Margaret Francina, Rebecca Rocena, John Forsyth, and Joseph Ellison Beck, Jr. This family had residence in Burlington County, Monmouth County, New Jersey; and Bucks County, Pennsylvania before they moved westward.

A Mormon Apostle, Orson Hyde, was on his way to Palestine in the Holy Land in 1840. He was to go there to dedicate the land for the gathering of the Jews. Enroute, he stopped in Philadelphia to preach a few sermons. Joseph Ellison was present at one of these meetings. He was much impressed with the earnestness of purpose and enthusiasm which Orson Hyde demonstrated in his determination to fulfill his mission in spite of the lack of money. Joseph was also intrigued to hear of the Missionary plan of traveling without “purse or script.” Church history has recorded that a purse of gold was given to Orson Hyde with a request that “Ellison” be remembered in the missionary undertaking, and especially so in the dedicatory prayer at the Mount of Olives. At the time, bro. Hyde gave Joseph a blessing that he would never be in want and that they should go to Zion in safety. For many years the donor remained unknown until Joseph’s son, John Forsyth Beck, revealed the story.

A search through Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple Index Bureau establishes that Hannah was baptized into the then unpopular sect of “Mormons” 15 Sep, 1842 and Joseph was baptized 24 May 1847. Soon the young couple felt the urge to join with the saints in Utah. The packing concern offered him 1/3 interest in the business if he would renounce his religion and stay. Tradition states that relatives on both sides of the family did everything possible to dissuade them from departing. Yet their parents love did not turn to bitterness, as thye sent them a box after arriving the Salt Lake of groceries, clothing, and a new stove.

Joseph and Hannah and children left to cross the great plains from Kanesville with the Ezra Taft Benson Company on 4 July 1849. Many hardships of course were endured in the trek. Cholera broke out and their family was stricken. However Joseph and Hannah had great faith in the promise given to them by the missionary, and they came thru safely. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on the 28 October, 1849, after nearly four months on the journey (Reference: Church Office Bldg., Emi-files-” Joseph Ellison Beck-Church Emigration 1849-Crossed plains in the 5th Company or Ezra T. Benson Company-Journal History Dec 31, 1949-Supplement page 0.”)

The family settled in Salt Lake City in the Ninth Ward. They appear in the Census of Great Salt Lake County, 2 June 1850 on printed page No. 80. In the fall of 1851 the family moved to West Jordan and then in the Spring they moved to Palmyra (Now Sp. Fork, Utah) on the Enock Rees Farm, in the river bottoms. Then due to Indian troubles, the family moved to Fort Palmyra. They lived there about one year. Along with the rest, the family suffered greatly from the grasshopper plague of 1854-1855. They were compelled to live on bran bread and milk.

Again they were forced to move due to crop failure to another fort in Spanish Fork City. This fort was located about where the old A. R. M. Beck home now stands. Joseph Ellison acquired the southern half of the city block where the present Thurber elementary school stands. He erected a two-story home on the southeast corner where the Second Ward now stands. He gave this city property to the Mormon Church, and built a new two-story home on land he owned south of town. He planted a 4 or 5 acre orchard of all kinds of fruit near the center of his 20-acre tract. For many years, this was the scene of numberless family and public celebrations and picnics. From the time this family settled here they met in the “orchard” as a Beck Reunion on 31 May, the birthday of Jos. Ellison. There are many fond memories of descendants today of the “good old days.” It was also the haven of help for the poor and the needy. This home down “the lane” remained his place of abode until he died.

President Brigham Young send word to Bishop Butler in Spanish Fork that a good farmer was needed on the Indian Reservation. Joseph Ellison Beck was the one chosen for this call. Due tot his fact, his farm and a home was a favorite rendezvous for Indians and their annual trips into the valley. He was appointed Superintendent of the Indian farm and reservation Southwest of town, serving one year under Church Supervision, and two years under the U. S. Government. He served capably and endeared himself to the Lamanite. In the Spring of 1865, skirmishes flared into the Black Hawk War. Joseph was active in this, and also in the Tintic and Walker Wars.

Sharing in all the privations and hardships of frontier life, was his wife, Hannah. She was born 4 Mar 1817 in Recklesstown, Burlington County, New Jersey, the dau. of John and Margaret (Hodson) Forsyth. Hannah was sent to boarding school and given a college education. She was very refined, industrious and an excellent cook. She was proficient in dyeing, spinning, candlemaking, soapmaking and just about everything a good mother should be: sympathetic toward the suffering and unfortunate–her home made welcome to 16 orphaned children of the Mountain Meadow Massacre. These children were brought to their home by government officers. They cared for the children until relatives from the East came for them. Hannah was a missionary as well, teaching the gospel to all who would listen and more especially encouraged George Sevey who later joined the Church.  She was a real helpmate all her life. She died 13 Nov. 1872 at Spanish Fork, Utah and buried there also.

Margaret Robbins was married to Joseph Ellison Beck in polygamy, 13 Dec 1862. She was born the 5th of Oct. 1843 at Chesterfield, Burlington County, New Jersey. Margaret was the daughter of Isaac Roger Robbins and Mary Ann Burtis. These people joined the church and suffered persecution and more so, bitter opposition of Mary Ann’s relations. As a result, Isaac was forced to flee on the moment, leaving his wife and three children alone. However, Mrs. Robbins departed as planned to go to Zion, unaware of the whereabouts of her husband. What must have been her joy on arriving at the plan in New York to find him there waiting for her. On 4 Feb, 1846 the family set sail by water around Cape Horn, encountering two severe storms at sea, landing at Yerba Buena (no San Francisco) 31 July, 1846. After a year and a half, they emigrated to Salt Lake City. Shoon after Mrs. Robbins died and then Mr. Robbins moved to Provo. Young Margaret grew to womanhood in Provo. She was taught to spin and weave, becoming a capable young woman.

Previous to the marriage of Joseph and Margaret, Margaret helped with the children in the home of Joseph and Hannah. Mr. Beck and Mr. Robbins were very dear friends. There a friendship ripened into love and later into marriage. The following 11 children were born to this union: Isaac, Ann, James, Joseph Ellison, Jeddiah, John Antrim, Burtis, Margaret, Mary, Taylor and Nephi. They were all born in the home built by Joseph in South Spanish Fork. As of this writing (1966) there is just one surviving child–Taylor Beck. This splendid old couple lived their mortal life in perfect harmony and love, rearing their large family and living their religion inconspicuously, but full of good works and faith to the last.

On July 22, 1922 the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of 75 years from the day “This is the Place,” Margaret was an honored guest–a double pioneer; a Pioneer of California and Utah. Margaret died 11 June 1923 at Spanish Fork, Utah.

Sealing records also show that on 6 Mar 1872, Joseph was sealed to Helen Bennett, Roxanna Bennett, Theodosia Hodson, Sarah Hodson; and yet on 22 Sep, 1892 was sealed to Margrett Erson.

Joseph Ellison Beck lived to the age of 93. He died 13 Oct 1903 at Spanish Fork, Utah. On the day of his funeral, every business in town was closed. Flags lined the street in honor and meory of this well-known and beloved man. It was probably the largest funeral held in that day.

The lives of these three are most unusual as viewed from the present, but to them at the time they were filled with everyday needs and purpose for which they came West–that they would have freedom of worship, security carved out by their own energetic hard labors, and a chance to enjoy each day in its full measure.

Joseph was a generous man, but he had helpmates who supported and maintained his generosity. As a man, he had his strengths and weaknesses. His wives complimented his strength by their goodness, so his weaknesses never became paramount. From the record, he went about doing good in his home and community. Descendants to this day should carry their heads and hearts high with pride fot eh heritage that is theirs. And now, God help us to live our lives worty to compliment the hardship of their time which ultimately haev made us what we are!

(And now, if there are any corrections or addition to what has been written, we would welcome to hear from you. We do ask that the information, wherever possible, include hte source of information.)