Teancum Pratt, Founder of Helper

Edited by Edna Romano*

[used by permission, originally published in Utah Historical Quarterly, Fall 1980]

In the spring of 1975, as a bicentennial project, the Sally Mauro Elementary School third grade erected a granite memorial to Teancum Pratt, Helper’s first settler, at the site of the Pratt Cemetery. That summer Clifford Cunningham of Salt Lake City, a grandson of Teancum, came to Helper to see the memorial. He informed me of the whereabouts of Teancum Pratt’s diary. It was in the possession of his granddaughter Mary Pratt Barker of Ogden, Utah, who has given her kind permission for its publication in commemoration of the centennial of Helper.

The typescript transcription has been used in preparing the diary for publication, and except for correcting obvious typographical errors the printed journal reflects Teancum’s errant spellings of names and other peculiarities of his style and personality. Maps have been provided to clarify for the reader the location or relationship of many of the places mentioned in the diary. A few of Teancum’s references are obscure; some of the persons mentioned could not be further identified; and some persons are identified by their relationship to later or present residents of the area. Footnotes have been intentionally kept to a minimum to let Teancum’s unusual personality and his perception of events tell the story.

Teancum wrote of many things: his father Parley Parker Pratt’s death, his struggle as a young boy, his two wives and twenty-two children, his experiences with the United Order, his arrival in Castle Valley, his settling and homesteading in Helper in 1881, his term in prison for practicing polygamy, his activities in the LDS church, sicknesses and deaths in his family, and his associations with the early pioneers in the Helper-Spring Glen area. He also recorded many of the major events in the history of the Helper and Spring Glen settlements: the opening of the first school, the coming of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, the building of the Spring Glen Canal, the opening of the mines, and the selection of the county seat. In addition, his vivid descriptions of the terrain provide a backdrop against which his life unfolds.

Teancum included most of the important facts of his life in the diary. He was born on November 15, 1851, in Salt Lake City, to Parley Parker Pratt and Sarah Houston. He married Anna Elizabeth Mead, daughter of Orlando and Lydia Presly Mead, on October 10, 1872. He married Sarah Elizabeth Ewell, daughter of Francis Marion and Frances Mary Weech Ewell, on October 25. 1875. His last entry on January 19, 1900, was written some eight months before his death on September 8. 1900, in a coal mining accident.

I was born in the year 1851, in the Old Fort, Great Salt Lake City of Salt Lake County, Utah on the 15th November.

I was the eighth of ten living sons of Parley P. Pratt, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.1 My mother was Sarah Huston, Parley P. Pratt’s seventh wife.

In my 6th year, I was bereft of my father, who was assinated in Arkansas.

The next year after his death, I with my mother’s family moved to Payson. Utah. My mother married a German farmer named Tousich. My stepfather deserted us and went to California.

My sister Julia’s husband, John Gardner, persuaded my mother to sell her home, give him the proceeds, and go to Goshen to live with him. Life in Goshen was miserable. We children received very little schooling. My brother-in-law was a very unwise manager.

It was about my eleventh year when I went to live with my brother Alma. He pretended that he had a great interest for my welfare and was sorry to see me growing up in ignorance and running wild in the country. I have always looked back upon the two years which I spent with him as the most sorrowful and miserable part of my life.

At the end of those two years, I received quite a start of means from my father’s estate. It provided us a good piece of land in Goshen with teams and wagons.

In my 15th year, I had the misfortune to lose half of my left foot, which was frozen off while working for George Higginson. I was driving a freight team of 2 yoke of cattle. It was winter. We made it to Salt Lake City before Christmas. Mr. Higginson sent me on to Lehi Fields with both teams of cattle. This took me all day and night, and by morning I was frozen badly. Mr. Higginson treated me badly, being fed on bread alone and not enough of that.

In 1867, I traded my land at the mouth of Salt Creek Canyon above Goshen. I felt Goshen was not good enough for me, farming nor my surroundings were not good enough. Taking my mother, brothers, and sisters, I moved to Salt Lake City. I attended school 2 years, then removed to Goshen as teacher, but was unstable as wind and shifted to Santaquin, Utah. While here I married Miss Anna Eliza Mead on October 10, 1872. My first born, Teancum Orlando was born on December 13, 1873. He drowned at Prattville on August 27, 1875.

In 1874, we removed to Prattville, and joined my brother Helemen, a ward in the United Order.2 While in Prattville, on October 25, 1875, I took a second wife, Sarah Elizabeth Ewell, age 15. My second child, Ether, was born to Annie on November 11, 1975, at Prattville.

From Prattville, the United Order, breaking up, we moved to Richfield. We lived here for 2 years, then moved to Kingston, Utah, where we tried the experiment of living and eating at one table. This was a failure. I was at last tired and concluded to quit and commence the old and incorrect way again of everyone for himself and the devil for all. My wife Annie, bore me a daughter just previous to our move on October 26, 1877, which we named Mary Lydia, and in February 26, 1878, my wife Sarah, bore her first child which we named Parley Pahoran, in Kingston.3

I went to Hillsdale, then Panquitch, and then Santaquin in 1879. I taught school in Spring Lake and suffered awful poverty.

In Spring Lake three children were born to me; Annie bearing twins, Alma and Nephi on December 7, 1879. Alma died of cold on December 27, 1879. Sarah gave birth to Sarah Elizabeth on January 24, 1880.4

I found that my physical strength was not sufficient to endure hard labor and about the last of June, 1880, I came to the conclusion that I would go out to the frontier and take up land and either sink or swim in the attempt to maintain ourselves. So hearing of Castle Valley, I struck out and came to Price River on the 24th of July, 1880, coming down Gordon Creek from Pleasant Valley and locating at the mouth of Gordon Creek. But the neighbors were hunters, trappers, and bachelors, and soreheads and did not welcome any settlers, so I had a very tough time of it and had to leave that location and moved up to what is now Helper, at that time a lovely wilderness, and commenced anew in 1881.5

Then came the Rio Grande Railroad. Money was plentiful, but I could never get ahead. The Price River was unfortunate in getting its first settlers. They were not the honest kind who will pull together and sacrifice for each other.

In the winter of 1880-1881, on New Year’s Day, I was frozen in the mountains on Beaver Creek trying to get to Spanish Fork, and had to come back and lay all winter with my feet frozen.

After moving to Helper Homestead, I made a small ditch upon each side of the Price River and commenced to raise such crops as we most needed, but the land proved not fertile and crop after crop was almost a failure and being unable to fence, it was very difficult to keep the cattle from out crops. Lehi Marion, my eighth child, was born to Sarah at Spring Glen on October 4, 1881.

Sister Mead came into the Valley and settled with us and also Brother F. M. Ewell and family about the year 1882, and so my wives and family would not be so lonely.

There were plenty of deer and rabbits and ducks at that time, but it was never profitable to hunt, as it took too much time. We, at that time were without cows and teams or vehicles or tools or machinery and seemed to live on nothing. I was lamed very badly in my right leg by the caving of a bank in 1882. It was early spring. I worked at grubbing and ditching sitting on a low stool, but through all those terrible days, I was determined not to give up but to conquer the wilderness and become independent of the rich and only have to work for myself, and I could see light ahead, and had faith that I should accomplish this result.


During 1882, we raised very little vegetables, potatoes, beets, carrots, melons, etc. We all lived together in a part cellar and one log room beside. During the winter, I hunted, dressing my feet in gunny sacks, which was plentiful about the railroad camp. My children were small and numerous, and my crops poor.

Monday, June 5 [1882] Rose at 4 o’clock, put water on 4 different places, corn, sugar cane, potatoes, and bottom piece for corn. Found a way of letting out a small stream of water at any place along the ditch by putting in a board with a notch cut in the middle of the side and putting small rocks below for the water to fall upon. Sarah and Amande planted popcorn and beans, also some watermelons. At noon we were driven out of the bowery and into the house by a shower of rain which lasted long enough to wet the ground about an inch deep. We had the first pigweed greens of the season today for dinner.

Tuesday June 6 [1882]Made a piece of levee to ward off floods from the garden, hoed corn, watered a little.

Ether came running in breathless haste this afternoon to tell me that to hurry home and get my gun for he said, “We wants you to come and shoot a hawk which has killed a little chick.” This is the first time this kind of thing has happened to us in Castle Valley.
I take comfort in reading the Deseret News and [Woman’s] Exponent after having been deprived of them in a great measure for 2 years.

I am looking forward to the time in the near future when we will have a mail route and post office on Price River.

June 7 Wednesday [1882]Annie went visiting this afternoon and brought word of there being 5 or 6 head of stray sheep in the vicinity.

Sarah began planting white beans. We had our first radishes and lettuce for dinner.
I am pretty near through with the levee. Today Sarah and myself also have replanted the corn.

Thursday June 8 [1882]Hoed the onion bed partly over. Continued work on the levee hoping to finish it before any heavy rain comes, so it will catch the floods.
Sister Mead and Amanda planted some white beans and finished planting corn. Also they planted some squash; cucumbers coming up. I also finished plowing and took the plow home to Ewell’s.

Today was Sarah’s birthday. She forgot it till night. She is 22 years old.

Friday June 9 [1882] Finished the levee and ditch around the outside of the land and prepared some land for white beans, which we planted in the afternoon. Began fencing across the river.

This evening I crossed the river to get the cows and saw three fresh bear tracks going up the river. Bears are frequently on the river during June and July.

Mrs. Babcock and Mary Ewell visited us today.6 They are not on very friendly terms with each other.

Idona was stung by a scorpion on the left arm in 3 or 4 different places.7 Her mother put fresh cow-dropping and soda upon it and it seems to be doing quite well.

Saturday June 10 [1882] Finished planting the white beans and they were the last of my planting for the season unless I can plant some lucern.

Mr. Harper brought us the news from the Clear Creek Post Office which we esteemed a favor.8 He also brought a letter from my sister Zina.

Sunday June 11 [1882] Two men passed here carrying their blankets from Colorado going to Montana or the Northwest. There has been a numerous lot of that kind of travel past here all through the latter part of winter and spring. They complain of hard times in Colorado. We have rumors of busy times ahead on the Railroad which it is said will start this way from Clear Creek on the 15th of June.

Monday June 12 [1882] Hoed various of the garden patches and got fencing from the island to fence my crops, also grubbed a while in the evening. One of the oxen stepped upon 2 of my toes this afternoon and for a short time, I feared they were seriously hurt, as they were between the oxen’s foot and a sharp rock. Thanks to Providence, they are feeling nearly well tonight.

My eyes are weak and threaten to become really sore so that writing is not convenient, especially at night.

Tuesday June 13 [1882] Watered land upon which I sowed some lucern seed. Had a nice shower of rain. Atmosphere so cold I fear frost tonight.

I went down the river to hunt some kind of grasses, but got none.

Mat Simmons took dinner with us.

At dusk, Miss Gullen and Handricks arrived enroute for their garden. They stayed overnight with us and told us news of such things as we wished to hear about the settlements.

Wednesday June 14 [1882] Watered and grubbed the land. Annie transplanted 4 rows of cabbage.

In the evening, I went to Ewell’s to get the cows and oxen which had gone down there the first time for over a month. Showed Sister Ewell how to water her garden.

Thursday June 15 [1882] Finished grubbing the lucern land and hoeing the sugar cane the first time over and setting out the cabbage patch.

Frank and Lorenzo Ewell arrived from Clear Creek this evening.9 There have been over a dozen men passing here on foot today, coming from Colorado and going to various places in the west. They report hard times in the mining camps in some parts of Colorado. They are generally hungry and want to buy provisions.

Friday June 16 [1882] The children are hungry and so were we all, having but little in the house to eat. In the forenoon, I went into Spring Canyon and found plenty of fresh deer signs there. In the evening took the team and in company with Lorenzo Ewell, we camped at the springs overnight. In the morning we found and obtained some meat.

Saturday June 17 [1882] Plowed land for lucern all day.

Sunday June 18 [1882] Stayed at home most of the day and had a good rest. F. M. Ewell arrived from Clear Creek and brought me two copies of the Deseret News. I enjoyed myself greatly.

Monday June 19 [1882] Planted my lucern and took Brother Ewell’s plow home with the handles broken. Peas and potatoes in blossom, corn doing fine. Rain fell last night.

Wednesday June 21 [1882] This has been one of the days that are annoying and vex and try people’s tempers. I was afraid of frost.

Sunday June 25 [1882] Finished watering and hoeing. Ewell’s drove up here and spent the afternoon.

Monday June 26 [1882] Started to put up the fence, watering the corn.

Saturday July I [1882] Having my crop planted and well started, I thought it would be wisdom for me to leave home and try to earn some money, as our provisions were getting low and we are pretty short in clothing.

Friday July 7 [1882] My trip to Emma’s Park was disasterious. I had received intimations before starting that it would be best to stay at home and take care of my crop and improve my place and wait for some good and sure opportunity to work for money, but I felt that the pressure was so heavy upon me to go and earn something that I would go and run the risk of gain or loss.

I have wandered about from camp to camp, but no good opening presented for me to get profitable employment, and so I started for home.

It was on July 5, that I had got into Price Canon, at the mouth of which I live, when the heavens grew black, the sky overcast with a heavy tempest cloud and the rain began to pour down in an unprecedented manner, such thunder I never heard before. It was a continual roar for I should think. over half an hour. The river rose in a few minutes to a raging flood that carried away thousands of ties for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.

The bridges were damaged, in fact, all carried down stream, and after the flood subsided, I had to ford where the bridges had stood. In crossing the second ford my oxen shied off down the stream and I lost control of them. To save myself, I plunged in and swam to shore. The hind end of the wagon swung round against the bank and I, seeing the oxen in great danger, ran along the wagon to the tongue hold which I drew out thus liberating the oxen and saving their lives. I stopped at the coal mine with Peter Monks, an old English miner, that night. My loss was one wheel, one chain, one sack of salt, my molds for my gun with some primer and powder, and nine days time on the trip. When I got home, I was rejoiced to see that the flood had not injured my crop which was planted in a low river bottom.

Sunday July 9 [1882] We went berrying with the Ewells and Babcocks down the river to my old place where many currants grow. The hay meadows we found ruined entirely by the flood. While down there I was fortunate enough to buy nearly 500 pounds flour at $3.00 a hundred.

Saturday July 22 [1882] Spent the week in fixing and repairing the water ditch, also got a load of house logs which the flood brought down. Took up a wild cow from the range to milk and so Sister Mead’s cow, Dassy, came in also. We will have plenty of milk and butter now.

I received word from Huntington that the school trustees would like me to come and teach for them. I may go next winter.

Sunday July 23 [1882] Last Sunday there came to me a man, Fredrick Finn, who was in quite a strait to get a couple of colts that were up in the mountains. He offered me 5 dollars if I would go and help him find them which I finally consented to do. We spent several hours conversing about his part of Utah. We went on Monday, returned on Tueday morning. Got a fine buck while out.

Spent the week, after getting back ir hoeing corn and a few beans.

The 24th July being at hand, we have been busy preparing to keep it in our humble way. We shall display the stars anc stripes, fire our guns, and feast ourselves together and we have received an invitation to attend a dance down the river.

November 2 [1882] My wife Annie gave birth to my ninth child, Joseph Mormon.10

November 10 [1882] My son, Joseph Mormon, was blessed by me.


January 1 [1883] I have not kept account of events that have transpired since November. I will therefore write some of the most prominent occurrences down according to memory.

Brother Erastus Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to Price River and preached to the people. He praised the land and country and spoke of its facilities, showing that we have a very good land to make home in. He gave much good counsel and promised to have a ward organized to send us some missionary settlers and a bishop. He talked very kind and fatherly to the people and I felt greatly encouraged and strengthened by the visit. He stayed overnight at the house of my father-in-law F. M Ewell, and myself and family visited with them and spent a very happy evening.

January 22 [1883] Went to Price station to get some hay for Brother Jens Hansen; also, he being sick, I took some oil which was consecrated and administered to him.11

January 24 [1883] Worked on Brother Jens Hansen’s cellar the last two days. They are living in tents and are exposed to an inclement season. The weather was colder on the 19th than was ever known before in Utah and many parts of the U.S.A.

January 27 [1883] Hunted wild game and grubbed sagebrush off my farm, also made a door for Hansen’s cellar. Did not get any game and got home on Saturday evening very tired, having been sick the night before with dysentery, but when it has snowed is the time to hunt in the region and I felt like I must go and try for that is almost my only dependence for meat and our supply was gone. Brother Hansen let me have 8 pounds of bacon and E. Perkins sent me a piece of venison and thus the Lord provides for me in our poverty.12

Sunday January [1883] Today I attended Sunday school at Brother Ewell’s; after it was out, I spoke to him of the feeling of malice existing held by his family against my family. He did not see any way to settle such feelings, seeing that my family would not, he thought, make sufficient acknowledgment of faults. There is a feeling seemingly of deep and irreconcilable enmity existing between them which I exceedingly regret. In consequence, meetings and Sabbath school are discontinued for the time being. We think them at fault, and they think we are in the fault. These things are very grievous to me, but all will doubtless work for the best.

Sunday February [1883] I passed the week at grubbing land, there being a very heavy growth of sagebrush upon those portions which I desire to clear for the coming season. I also visited Brother Jens [James] Hansen, who settled upon the river just above my claim, and who required my assistance in getting his cellar made and getting 10 ton of hay hauled from Price Station, he in turn being able to spare me some provisions we needed and which were quite acceptable, especially the bacon. We are not yet situated as to raise hogs, but hope to do so next year. We are now keeping one young goat at Mrs. Mead’s.

February [1883] The children are learning rapidly to spell, read, and write. They attend a small school kept by my wife Sarah.13

Sister Mead’s family are gone, all but Orlando and George. The girls are working out. Received a letter containing a recommend from Spring Lake yesterday.

Sunday February 11 [1883] Passed the week at various occupations, filling up the odd time at grubbing and clearing land. I surveyed a ditch for Henry Babcock hunted some, got up a lot of wood with Hansen’s team.14 I expect to go to Price Station and carpenter with Brother Eldridge and assist him at building at that place.

Monday February 12 [1883] Leveled ditch and grubbed.

Tuesday February 13 [1883] Snowed last night and I hunted all day. Had a fine days sport and got 3 deer.

Wednesday February 14 [1883] Dressed my game and sorted potatoes.

Thursday February 15 [1883] [Joseph] Hansen wished me to go hunting with him and brought an extra horse for me to ride, as it had snowed during the proceeding night.15 The north wind blew fierce and cold all day and we rode briskly through the woods till 10 o’clock, but did not see any tracks nor game and arrived home by noon. I finished the day at grubbing, and he proceeded on his hunt in the afternoon with the same results.

Friday February 16 [1883] I grubbed and cleared the land all day, clearing perhaps half an acre.

Saturday February 17 [1883] Grubbed land till noon. The weather very pleasant, and a little like spring. We received an invitation to a birthday party for Mrs. Jane Eldridge to be on Monday evening, February 19, at Price.

Sunday February 18 [1883] Rested at home and in the afternoon, Annie and the children, accompanied by myself took a walk up in the hills, among the pines and cedars. The scenery is delightfully grand, and we felt while rambling and clambering over the hills and through the evergreens, that we have a most delightful home in the mountains of Israel; and to praise God for his good in providing such a home for us.
Sarah has been sick the past 2 days of indigestion.

Monday February 19 [1883] Had the children helping me to clean up the door yard and premises and after 12:00 we went down to Price and attended a social party and dinner making presents and in celebration of Mrs. Eldridge’s birthday. While at the party, I read in the News the accounts of the awful floods that are prevailing in the states and I feel that it is a portion of the judgements which are to be poured out upon the earth in the last days.

Tuesday February 20 [1883] Grubbed brush on my land below the garden and at about 11:00, Mr. Gillett, agent .of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad called and settled with me for my land which the company had crossed with the road.

Wednesday February 21 [1883] Grubbed land at the same place as yesterday. Attended another birthday party in the evening at Brother H. Babcock’s.

Thursday February 22 [1883] Brother H. Babcock and Albert Dalton came up to work upon the water ditch. They intend to extend my ditch so as to get the water on their land from it.

Friday February 23 [1883] Worked on the water ditch about half a day. I grubbed a piece of land in the afternoon.

Saturday February 24 [1883] Worked all day on the ditch. Some of the last 2 days were spent hauling rock on the dam. The river rises into quite a flood at night through slush ice forming and daming the river up.

Sunday February 25 [1883] We all took a walk up to view Spring Canon.

Monday February 26 [1883] Waterditching is lively, is very brisk now on the river. Everyone seems determined to get himself a ditch. I have been working to that end all day and done but little work mostly running around.

December 6 [1883] Sarah gave birth to my tenth child, Moroni.


September 5 [1884] I was ordained a Seventy under the hands of President Semour B. Young. The meeting was a stormy one for me as I opposed the proposed selection of Brother Branch for Senior President of the new Quorum and referred in rather disrespectful terms to the bishop who had been selected for Price, and under whom I was living. I could plainly see that there could be no spiritual advancement under such men and sure enough there never was.
From 1883 to 1885, we just edged along among a people who were non-progressive and mostly dishonest.

July 6 [1885] Annie gave birth to my eleventh child, Helen Grace at the Homestead in Helper.16

December 12 [1885] Sarah gave birth to my twelfth child, Mosiah.
In 1886, I taught school in Ewell’s Hall17 a short time, but was very much alarmed by expected raids from the U.S. Marshalls.18 These have not been very happy years for me. I have lived in the wilderness with my families and had seeminly no friends and naught but poverty.

August 24 [1887] Annie gave birth to my thirteenth child, Zina Mercy.
Up to 1888, I continued trying to get settled and have a ward, and build up a more desireable condition around me.

February 20 [1888] [Spring Glen] Attended a meeting at Brother Ewell’s house to consider what should be the size and shape of Spring Glen which is the name agreed upon for this settlement at the time the canal company was organized.

This morning the Seventy Quorum was organized in Price by Semour Young and when I saw how the preidency was chosen of men some of who were sodden with tabacco and careless of the holy word of wisdom and who have sought the offices according to the best of my konwledge and belief. I was overcome with indignation and rose and plead the cause of the people arguing the Quorum could not have a spiritual vigor and growth under such conditions and otherwise expressing my dessent in the action of the meeting. Now as the church is so full of those proceedings and is everywhere saddled with this sort of men, I seem to stand alone in my opinions so I am led to ask myself am I apostatizing? The stand I took is a very unusual one in the church and is generally considered a sign of sliding back. But time will show. I believe that a stupendous change is at hand for Zion and that many who have become installed in position as leaders of this people will be found to be blind leaders of the blind. The times are out of joint and trouble is ahead.

February 24 [1888] Received a note this morning asking me to meet with A. Ferron at Castle Gate and stating there will be a little money in it as he is a government surveyor and conjectured something of the nature of his business.19 But I found in going to meet him that he is working on a Boom and trying to make some money out of the excitement about anthracite which is now raging. As I am acquainted with the mountains here and as this vicinity is suppose to be the continuation of the formation in which such coal is said to be found further down the valley, Mr. Ferron wanted me and when I met him it was explained. He proposed me to show him where the best lands were probably situated and he would work up the boom and look after purchases for joint locations while I should work the claims and receive wages for my labor. He being responsible for the same.

June 12 [1888] Sarah gave birth to my fourteenth child, Samuel.
In 1888, the Railroad was being broadgaged and I was able to forsee sufficiently to locate the proper coal lands so that I earned $1300 prospecting and also earned a team and wagon and mower and rake and seemed to be strictly in it.


I was especially active working on committees and as secretary of meetings called for public purposes, but in it all I always felt as if the ruling sentiments of most of the brethren was selfish and unreliable and ignorant, sparing for personal preferment and seeking for personal ends, yet I fear my judgment is faulty and I may lack in charity. Certain it is that the settlement is very slow and backward.

In 1889, we had progressed so far that a ward organization was affected and a new chorister selected. I had acted as such and was rejoiced of having a more thorough and efficient singing class, but in this I was doomed to much grief and disappointments as the new family who were named Thompson, proved to be wholly unsatisfactory.


Then came 1890 and after 8 years of dread and worry, I was arrested for unlawful cohabitation. I lay in the penitentiary from February 25, 1890 to August 25, 1890.
For some few years past I have been under apprehension of arrest and imprisonment for my family relationship, and in January last month, 1890, I was notified by U.S. Deputies to repair to Provo for trial. I was at Sarah’s and in the night the deps. came to Annie’s and she misled them as to my whereabouts, but they left a paper for my fare in case I chose to come of my own accord and stand trial.20 As I did not care to hide up and the other brethren had mostly served terms in prison, I conceded to go to Provo and report, believing further that if I was humble and submissive I might receive leniency and a light sentence. I went and waived examination to Provo before Hills, an old apostate. I was examined, also my plural wife, Sarah, as witness. While there a cunning plan was laid to entrap me into going on the bonds of my wife as witness, thus preventing me from taking the oath and forcing me to pay whatever fine might be, but Brother Maroni, who was with me, whispered to me and warned me, so I refused to go on her bond. We both succeeded, however, in getting bonds without much trouble and returned home.

My trial was set for the February term, giving me 30 days at home to prepare.

January 16 [1890] I returned home and in hauling wood for sale had my left leg broken off below the knee. I set it myself, bound my felt socks about it and Parley went home and got a sleigh and help.21 The men came with sleigh and carefully conveyed me home and we sent for Dr. Pike who did me no good and charged $50.00.

February 11 [1890] Annie gave birth to my fifteenth child, Mathoni.

Monday February 17 [1890] About 1 o’clock the members of Spring Glen ward came and surprised me, bringing picnic and visiting with me till nearly dark, I being confined to my bed by my leg.

Tuesday February 18 [1890] Deputies Redford and Birch came and subpoenaed my wives as witnesses, but Annie could not go, being confined.

Wednesday February 19 [1890] 3 o’clock a.m., boarded the 3 o’clock train. Sarah was with me. I was able to board the train and appear by the aid of crutches, and pleading guilty to charge of Unlawful Cohabitation, was sentenced by Judge Blackburn to the full penalty, 6 months and a large fine. It was February 25, 1890, when I went, and the coldest time of that winter, in fact, the only time to put up ice and all were trying to rush the business just then.

February 25 to August 25, 1890

The time in prison passed very slowly.22 The fare was healthy, but very plain. We had mush and tea for supper, but as I did not use tea, it was mush and water. We were furnished with milk or any other article by paying our own money, which was kept in the office. I had therefore milk for my mush. For breakfast and dinner, it was beef soup and coarse bread.

My time was quite pleasantly occupied studying characters and lives of the many men who I became acquainted with. There were all manner of men there at that time. Some thought L.D.S., some culprits of the blackest hue and from many parts of the earth. Most all countries furnish inmates.

The first night we spent in a cell on the 3rd corridor, but in the morning, I was taken to the hospital and the surgeon examined my leg and I was allowed to remain in the hospital some months. Here the fare was slightly better than in the dining hall and the room was more convenient, but the inmates were awful wicked men. The room was much more convenient that the cell house and I was tolerably confortable.

My money and knife were kept from me and I was dressed in striped clothing and no favor was shown me by any of the guards because of my lameness, but if I had been able and willing to work, I could have enjoyed many priveleges.

On February 27, I joined the choir which was composed mostly of our brethren and an organ. We sang in a superior manner there being plenty of good singers. As they were short of bass, I was quite at home.

I took considerable interest in getting sight of noted criminals and having them pointed out to me by the brethren. We were shaved and bathed once a week. The shaving is performed by the prisoners.

Noted criminals appear just like ordinary men, but in conversation, many of them claim to be innocent while some of them delight to tell of their daring and prowess as law breakers.

I was placed in the hospital and had the attendance of the doctors. The inmates at the hospital were a very rude and coarse set, but a Brother Gee was there who had a broken ankle.

Sunday March 2 [1890] Attended Sunday school which is a large class of the brethren and found the choir was used to sing there and also at the afternoon general service.

March 3 [1890] I am making new acquaintances fast and am gaining much experience. Watching the traits of different individuals is a source of much interesting study. The greatest besetment of some is pride and the lack of humility. There are many who will talk if the subject be themselves, but few are good listeners, except the subject be frivolity.
I spent many pleasant hours in company with some of the brethren who are very kindly and upright men, especially Brothers Murdock, of Ogden, Robinson of Beaver, Dunham of Sanpete, Jens Brown of Richfield.

There was plenty of music in the pen., both vocal and instrumental, also games of various kinds, chequers, chess, house ball, draw base, and also a day school, where at were taught bookkeeping and mathematics. There was also a library and prisoners were allowed to have a very great deal of leisure to occupy as they saw fit. I fully believe in the principle of hard labor for convicts and lawbreakers, and I say it is a great injustice for society to keep prisoners as they are kept at the Utah penitentiary.

While these lonesome days are passing, my family are being well cared for at home. The Railroad Company are making a siding at my home and land is rising in value rapidly. I am getting rich faster than I ever did in my life. My Desert Land Entry is vacant, owing to my not proving up, and I worry least some one might jump my land.23 We shall have to plot some part of our land for sale in lots. I feel incompetant to make the most of the probable prosperity. I visit a great deal and talk on the prospects of the Saints all day.

Wednesday, March 12 [1890] Today I was telling stories in company with Brothers Dunham, Spencer, and Anderson, and we were each trying to tell of the hardest experience, things which had happened in our past lives. My relation was one of my poverty. How for seventeen years I had waded through sore trials with a large family and no resources. I thought I could make a pretty tough story and not stretch the truth, but I had to give it up when they came with their stories of sickness and domestic division and dissensions. Truly the saints are a tried people. May God reward them. Some of these brethren are here for long terms and truly my heart fails me when I think of these trials, men with large families poor and dependent and then to be shut up for 1 to 3 and 4 years is enough to seal the damonation of any government.

It is interesting to me to have pointed out to me the notorious men whose history has been published and who have become noted through the public papers.

Some are here for life, some for 20 years, some for all kinds and grades of crimes. They are just ordinary looking men. The great rogues of the world seldom get in here, being too smart and influential. These are only the small-fry scape goats, men with no breadth and little expertise and not one of the best thinks he is a good fellow who has been unjustly dealt with.

Among my best and kindest friends in here are Brothers Murdock, Robinson, Dunham, Brown, Sampson, McAlister and also Brother Anderson of Fillmore. An anecdote which will illustrate character is here inserted. We were conversing upon desperate men and I was asking questions as usual. The conversation turned upon a very desperate and cool train train robbery which happened in Cache Valley some time ago and was performed by a singing man. It was a very noted case and I asked with eagerness, “Is the man here now?” “Certainly!” was answered, “You will easily know him. He is medium height and weight, very fair, blue eyes, golden hair, and wears a large treasire on his cravat.” I was astonished, for I had already met him and spoken to him and wondered what offense such an innocent looking man had been guilty of. He had begged a milk ticket, with which he wished to gamble, (a very common occurence) of me just the evening before.

I am getting a letter from home about once a week and attending Sunday school and divine services on Sunday. These are held frequently by sectarian ministers.

My leg being done up in plaster felt so uncomfortable that on March 26, I took the plaster off, but had cut it in such a way that I could replace it by binding it on for daytime with cords.

While these days are passing, I receive hints from various sources of the events which are occuring outside and mostly through the papers to which we have free and abundant access. I get letters from various parties and am led to expect a boom at my farm as the “Western” is expected by many to make its division right in the middle of my land, and as my Desert Filing is to run out, I am anxious and pray that the Lord will hold them back till I can take measures to secure it better.24

One of the sorrows of my prison life was that although I have very many relations near the pen., none of them came to see me except once when my sisters Lucy and Nell came.

The criminals who are here are quite a righteous lot that take their own word for it. They do not think they need repentance or reformation, but justify themselves.

I received some money, $54.00, for my labor for the “Western” prior to coming here and sent it home.

Tuesday March 29 [1890] Brothers James Jack and F. M. Lyman came and visited the prison today, and Brother Lyman sent in his regards to me. There are great troubles in the earth now; earthquakes on the Pacific, floods in Mississippi, labor strikes, trouble in Russia and C. C.

Thursday May I [1890] Great fast day. How I rejoiced today. Letter came from home; received $5.00 from home. My under clothing being very scant, and seeing the others being provided with clothing, I sent for some and was refused. They think we men of large family do not need as much as the man who has none to provide for and came here destitute.

We were permitted to write letters one a week and receive them as often as they might come; all correspondence being subject to inspection.

I am greatly surprised and comforted to know that all my affairs at home are more prosperous than ever before and my family are well provided.

The Lord showed me in answer to prayer that he would take special care of them.

The prison is not severe upon the Brethren. They are out at work in the fields and go to town on errands for the prison, and inside the yards, they rest and visit and are permitted many pleasures and privleges. I was permitted free access to the library and read much including Young’s Night Thoughts.

August 25 [1890] Released from prison.


August 8 [1891] My daughter Zina Mercy drownded.

My wife Sarah, gave birth to my sixteenth child, Isabelle Ruth, on September 24, 1892, in Salt Lake City where she is in exile.

January [1893] Being now pretty well located and comfortable, I undertake to write more fully upon my own daily life and passing events. The thoughts of my heart, my hopes and fears. I shall also try to go back and fill from memory the gaps left in my history as fully as possible. It has been natural to me to view my own life as tame and uneventful, but at times when the visions of mind open to view things differently, I can understand of what intense interest the times I have lived in with all their details; and my part therein will be perused and studied by generations to come. How greatly would I prize such a record of any one of my forefathers. They are in total eclipse, oblivious covers them. What a shame.

January 26 [1893] Iwent to Castle Gate intending to get coke, but had to buy coal at $2.80 per ton. Having $1.40 with me, I promised to pay next time I got up. I have been trying to collect bills of debts the past week, and they all usually fail to pay owing to closeness of the times. I am, myself, heavily in debt, perhaps $500.00, but have quite large resources: viz Helper Townsite 700 lots. Have only sold some 30, yet also controlling interest in Beaver Ditch, and houses and lots in Helper, but cash is hard to get.

I have lately adopted the practice of fasting and praying to God for assistance as I am broke in strength and my families needs are so great. Sarah being in Salt Lake City in exile and her children in school, and my children numbering 13 living, robust hearty souls to eat and wear. So my only course must be to live by faith. I have to pay $10.00 per month for Sarah’s rent and $25.00 for expenses and I am daily and hourly praying for the changes which are to lift up Zion.

I take more pleasure in converse with Brother Fullmer and Brother C. H. Cook25 than any others in this place and watch most eagerly for the Deseret News, which I read so watchfully the signs of the times. We are expecting great movements from Rumania and also in many other quarters, and life is a continual drama of interesting movements by immense bodies towards fullfillment of prophecy, and yet the multitude is unimpressed and stupidly drifting onwards toward chaos and destruction.

Thursday January 27 [1893] Went to work fencing the north line of my homestead at Helper. This string of fence is 1/2 mile and more and was started early in the fall. It is made by piling large trees, cedars, and pine upon each other and these when placed upon the bank of the huge gully made by nature produce an impregnable fence. It is like finding a fence, as the gully is nearly straight upon the line east and west and the trees grow plentifully along the line.26 James Hansen brought a load of stove coal from Castle Gate. Wm. Warren Jr. came to try to sell me the Oak Spring Bench,27 so I have been getting a canal made the past season to water the bench and many others.

Our Sunday School choir practiced last evening. The pieces were, “Zion is Growing,” and “Far Far Away on Judeas Plains.”

We lack most everything with which to make a good choir. We have an organ, but no organist. Bro. H. Thompson does a little, then we have Bro. Ewell for tenor, who cannot see and never speaks the words. As for alto we have none and a lot of giggling girls for air. So we do not have anything to boast of for our choir, but last evenings practice was unusually pleasant.

Miss Palmer arrived from Huntington. She is an orphan girl and is going to work for us.

Saturday, January 29 [1893] Bought some ditch stock of Wm. Moffitt, amount of $30.00. Sold him a grey mare in part.

Attended the annual meeting of the Spring Glen Canal Co. It is in the hands of notoriously dishonest gang of men and has not gone forward the past year and the prospect is very gloomy for 1893 because they seem to be both dishonest and incapable, but as I have the waters at Helper, I am quite independent of them, although it is the same ditch.

Sunday, January 30 [1893] Attended regular Sabbath duties, taught the higher theological class, 2nd intermediate, which I have had charge of for some months past and it is the highest grade in the school at present and is attended by the young elders and their wishes who never have taken much interest in the scriptures and know little or nothing of the science of religion and seem to care less than they know, so our sessions are not very fervent or earnest, but I try to make them interesting and tell stories to illustrate sketches of church history to enlist attention.

At night, the young people gather at my house and we entertain them with comic readings and some songs, but when we tried gospel hymns, they soon wearied of them and clamored for something light and frivolous.

Thursday, February 2 [1893] It was a very cold and windy day, but yet there was a good attendance at fast meeting. I went home to dinner with Bro. Fullmer, and we bought a buggie tongue of Jane Babcock. She seemed quite willing to sell it to us, though on a former occasion, she had refused to either sell or loan it to me.

I am preparing to start day after tomorrow to stake conference. The cry of dull times is arising from all sides, and I fear to try to face the times of scarcity except by appealing to heaven for our daily wants. I have labored by hand but little the present winter, but have been busy attending to getting my accounts and keeping them in order, and attending the spiritual duties of the ward which have consisted of many long meetings of the priesthood in the evenings and meetings of the various associations and choirs, I having to lead the group and Y.M.M.I.A.

There is a great change for the better in Spring Glen Ward since the People’s Ward Conference when the bishop was voted out and Brother E. D. Fulmer was put in his place, and everything has been more encouraging. I have had to efficiate as one of the committee on amusements and as president of the deacons, which duty all revolves upon myself mostly. I often wonder why two men are so unlike in spirit and yet so willing to follow the gospel requirements.

Wednesday February 8 [1893] Have just returned from stake conference at Ferron where I went with Fulmer. The weather was cold, the roads rather muddy except in the north end where there was much more snow. I stayed all night at Bro. Gaylors and acquaintance of several families, among whom were Bro. King, Bro. Burns, and Bro. Buhanan. I was invited to stand and addressed the conference.

Sunday February 5 [1893] Attended Sunday School and meeting. A letter of inquiry was read from stake presidency wanting to know how many from our ward were going to the dedication.

I am distressed for means to send to Sarah and worry much about her.
I spoke upon the subject of the building up and future of Spring Glen in meeting and said I thought it would yet become prosperous. Its canal affairs are its present drawbacks, being manipulated by a lot of seeming cranks and thieves and it is no further along than it has been for the last two years except that I settled and improved the heads of it down as far as my land at Helper last summer.

Monday February 27 [1893] Have just recovered from a severe attack of Lagripp. I ate but little for 10 days, doctored with beef iron and wine for a tonic and with some cough medicine and quinine.

It is very difficult to get money to pay our obligations and all we can do is keep from suffering. Owing to my liberality in trusting out goods, we are unable to continue business at present, but I can’t refuse poor people the necessities of life when I have anything and when they get a few more and so I am unable to supply these demands longer and shall turn my resources into canal property and improve real estate instead of trying to keep a store.28 There is a heavy cash expense to keep up. Sarah in Salt Lake and I am quite distressed insomuch that it becomes quite a serious problem how to make ends meet. The whole people are in distress from debt and through the failure to adopt the patronage of home industries, we are all trembling on the verge of insolvency and had this people adopted the counsels given in the past they might now have been all rich, but as it is they must stand by faith.

May 2 [1893] Annie gave birth to my 17th child, Ester Jane.

Tuesday May 9 [1893] Day before yesterday being Sunday, Lyman and Elder B. H. Roberts being present, conference was commenced at Price. On the following day, Monday, at 2 o’clock p.m. the same brethren held meeting at Spring Glen and selected a new bishopric consisting of E. D. Fulmer, Herbert Savage, and myself, on which occasion I was ordained a high priest and was most mercilessly opposed and somewhat abused by elders William Miller, Thomas H. Jones, and one or two others, but after they had been very severely and pointedly rebuked by the brethren who had come and had also been out voted by the rest of the people, they agreed to sustain me. I was well pleased to leave the 101st Quorum of Seventies, having never felt at home in that Quorum and to obtain the high priesthood seems fitting, now that I am so lame and crippled that I can not well travel and attend to missionary labor. It truly seems like the crowning for which I have hoped, and though I seem to be unqualified for a bishop, yet I rejoice in this calling, and whereas I had intended to leave Spring Glen because of the sloth of the people about getting out the water, yet now I shall commence to build and improve this place.

Wednesday May 17 [1893] I have this week bought an organ fro. Zina Cannon as she was moving to Idaho to keep Railroad house. I am to give her $55.00 when I can, and she also bought a lot in Helper, viz lot 9 in block 3, w. y., for which she paid me 1 horse, 1 saddle, and bridle, and 1 cow.

Yesterday there was a turn out of ten men on the Sprin Glen Canal above Helper and the water was turned down the canal and weak places strengthened.

Sunday May 22 [1893] I attended meeting and Sunday school. In meeting I spoke of the feelings which have existed so long between myself and Millers and Wisemans, and which are now healed and gave as favorable a report of those boys as I could.

Ordained Ray Cook a deacon and set him apart.

I fasted and asked the Lord to deliver me from the debts which I owe and which amount to hundreds of dollars and cause me much unhappiness.

Thursday June I [1893] Inamed and blessed my little daughter Ester Jane.

Thursday June 8 [1893] Watered land at Helper; also attended singing practice in the evening.

Friday June 9 [1893] Last Monday I went to Salt Lake City, having got money enough to go and deliver Sarah and pay nearly all her debts; also sent David $52.87.
The money to do this with was obtained by selling Mr. Hage a piece of land, and I have no doubt that it was the Lord who caused this to happen because of my petitions and prayers.
I also made proper desert proof and had Sarah file a homestead on Section 35, Township 13 S.R.G.E. Brother Ewell went to Salt Lake with me and was witness on the desert proof.
This land [Sec. 35] makes me sure of having a place to utilize the Gordon Canal.

When I arrived home with my wife and children I found my potato planting completed by Annie.

Annie is very averse to having Sarah live in Spring Glen and so makes me very sorrowful. Last October, in Salt Lake City, at Brother S. Russel’s house, I named and blessed little Isabelle Ruth (my daughter).

Paid $8.10 freight for Sarah’s furniture from Salt Lake and moved her into her home; had to borrow most of the money. In the evening Brother Fullmer visited Thomas Haycock.29 We are visiting the whole ward. Brother Haycock thinks of being re-baptized. He has not been fairly treated by T. H. Jones.

Parley and me watered the oats and lucerne at Helper, and Nephi planted popcorn.

Tuesday June 13 [1893] Watered the potatoes at Helper, as they were so dry I feared they would not come up. My feelings were galled by the depredition of some stock, and I shall have to fence well or my crops will continue to be destroyed up there. My being here at Spring Glen makes it easy for animals and people to commit depreditions. The canal broke, and the water cut down through my new lucerne field.

Dan Hoffener is willing to take the house and lot at Helper instead of Sarah’s in Spring Glen. In the evening I went to a water meeting and voted to increase the capital stock at $15.00.

I am pondering upon and wondering what is to follow the orders from the first presidency in regard to this rousing up of the people to do right and dealing with those who fail to do so; a circular to that effect having reached us here, as elsewhere.
Parley is trying to get work at Castle Gate to assist us while I am making the ditch and canal and keeping up the work at home.

Last Sunday we visited Sister G. H. Jones and administered the ordinance for the sick. Brother Jones was taken to task by Sister Miller and others for the way he had preached and he has often criticized others for preaching something which he did not like. He is a very strange man whom I mistrust.

Thursday June 15 [1893] Just returned from the Beaver Canal. It is a great success, and carries water without any breaks right from the start, which has not been the case with any other ditch I have heard of in Castle Valley. Indeed, it has taken most companies 1 to 3 years to make the canal safe after turning water in them.
The accounts of the building of the Beaver ditch were kept by myself and showed an expenditure of the Oak Spring Bench of about $1500. I have expended about $600.00 of the amount.

I have determined to try to let my place and go up and work all summer upon the ditch.

Friday June 16 [1893] Myself and Parley worked at fencing the south line of the Helper land, setting a line of posts upon the slope of a mountain where it was rocky and steep, but we succeeded in setting a goodly number.

I have not succeeded in renting my land yet. I am in debt and being pressed by my creditors and it makes me most miserable, and I have been praying that the Lord would open my way out. I am frequently asked the reason for the close hard times and it is seldom that I hear a real true reason for them. My own view is that they are the result of our civilization and can only be remedied by revolution and the introduction of correct principles, such as the gospel enjoins.

Sunday June 18 [1893] Attended church and Sabbath school and held a testimony meeting at J. Bigelow’s30 house at Helper at which I felt a very good degree of the spirit of the Lord.

Brother Herbert Savage being home after quite an absence, alluded in meeting to some of the reports which had been circulated about himself and wounded some of the people’s feelings. We are trying, as a bishopric, to forward the interests of the settlement, and we are at times sorely tried with each other.

Yesterday I made the acquaintance of a man at Helper who is watchman there and he surprised me with his liberal views and pleasantly impressed me and I hope to sell him a tract of land.

Sunday June 25 [1893] I went on Tuesday morning last to Beaver and joined the Beaver Canal Co. in repairing the ditch. By Saturday noon we had the work completed and the whole stream turned down into Gordon Creek.

Today I had to preside at Sabbath meeting, as the other brethren were away.

This evening the children were out upon the streets till very late playing and I feel disturbed at seeing the love of pleasure which seems to seize them. I only hope and pray the Lord to sustain us or we will all go to badness.

I have received word from the stake presidency to join other priesthood of the county on July 1st at Castle Dale and I hope we will get instructions there to guide us upon our way in the ward.

Tuesday June 26 [sic] [1893] Worked at fixing the fence at Helper, and looked for Dick, our horse, over the river. While over there, I discovered a fine quarry near Sarah’s homestead.

In the evening we practiced singing for the 4th.

Wednesday June 28 [1893] This was a day of rest for me, the result of a fall from the mare, Doll. She threw me to the ground heavily yesterday morning, and I was so lame today that I stayed at home and tinkered up the washer and read a little. My worry is about our temporal situation. The whole people are distressed and unable to meet their debts, and the young people are running after dreams of pleasure and the gentiles are grasping and seizing all who can be led off, and people are asking what is the cause of the hard times, and at the same time any child ought to know that when a people cease to create and produce and buy everything from abroad, they can only end one way, and that is bankruptcy. I hope the Lord will shorten these evil days.

Continued 1893-1900

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