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

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