Hyrum Cluff-Cluff Family Journal
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
The subject of this sketch was the eighth son of David and Betsey Hall Cluff, of Durham, Rockingham county, New Hampshire, and was born 19 April 1841, in Nauvoo, Hancock county, Ill-inois. His father was a hard working man, a carpenter and ship builder by trade, but his greatest interest was in agriculture, especially after his pioneering life drew him from the ship building yards.
Hyrum having descended from parents of excellent morals, who exerted them-selves to instill into their children, by precept and example, principles of integrity, honesty and virtue; vener-ation for the Father in heaven and His son Jesus Christ was inculcated. Their means and opportunities for the educa-tion of their children were very little, owing to the fact that their lives were spent in journeying from one new district to another. These journeys necessarily required all the time and the physical strength of both parents and children, to cope with the hardships in procuring the means of support. And not until the arrival of the Cluff family in Utah did the members have any favorable opportunity of acquiring even the lessons in education beyond that which the parents were enabled to give them by taking advantage of an occasional leisure moment. Thus the minds of the children were gradually built upon a desire to grasp high opportunities for acquiring a knowledge of the most important branches of a common education. The higher education, during the youthful days of Hyrum, was generally thought to be wholly the prerogative of the teacher, although it has been the practice of the Latter-day Saints to build school houses, however rude, in whatever district they settled permanently or temporarily. The lineage through which Hyrum descends, had an illustrious standing among the early settlers of the New England States, nor was it diminished in the least in his parents, for although they became identified with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the elevation of character, maintenance of honesty, sobriety and virtue was not diminished, but they grew brighter and more elevating and inspiring as they became more thoroughly schooled in the knowledge of God and His gospel, as revealed to Joseph Smith, the prophet.
Hyrum's whole life was spent at home and all his early experience in the various vocations of life were had under the directions of his parents. While his life has been work! work! work! it has not been in slavery, nor under ill treatment. Father Cluff was one of the most industrious of men. He was never known to idle away time by lounging on street corners, store fronts, nor in blacksmith or show shops, which principle of good breeding were inculcated in Hyrum in his youth and which he observes to this day.
There are always a class of little incidents in youthful experience that clings to one's mind and makes greater impressions, than others, which when children grow up, are often brought to mind and frequently mentioned in conversation with either pleasure or sorrow as the case may be. Hyrum has had his "ups and down's" his pleas-ures and his sorrow. Youth in Hyrum's case has not always been among the roses, yet his life has been somewhat even and of steady advancement.
In the third year of his age he was seriously burned by accident-ally running through a hot bed of coals when the boys had a bon-fire, the coals of which had been covered over with ashes, and therefore was not observed. In his more advanced years Hyrum was brought to realize how deep his affections and love for his father was rooted and ground in his nature. A man by the name of York set his savage dog upon his father which bit him severely on the leg. This brutal act grew out of the dishonest and unprincipled demand of York. It appears that Father Cluff had cleared off and planted a piece of land which York afterwards laid claim to. Words of an unpleasant character passed between them and as Father Cluff was peaceably leaving for his home, York in a revengeful manner set the dog upon him. Hyrum witnessed this inhuman act and a feeling of indignation arose against York, and sympathy for his father filled his whole being.
Hyrum was too young in Pisgah to remember and participate in the "sugaring off" process on the maple sugar plantation owned by the family, but he vividly remembers the large, fine cakes as they were brought home and how palatable it was. As Hyrum remembers now, "nutting time" was to him the most interesting autumn sport, and close upon that, came the winter trapping of chickens, quails and rabbits. He attained to the age of eight years while he was at Cartersville, which was a sort of a "string town," built in a hollow extending some two miles along Mosquito Creek. The Cluff family, at the lower end of this hollow, or gulch, lived near a small pond and also near the school house.
When the family were ready in 1850 to venture across the plains, they moved down to near the Missouri river where they had to cross in flatboats, and while encamped here, awaiting their turn for crossing, Hyrum strolled down to the river just as one of the boats was about to start over with a load of cattle and without recogni-zing the danger of being among cattle he jumped aboard and crossed over to the wilderness side unbeknown to his parents. And while at any moment he might have been dashed into the treacherous river, yet he fortunately returned without any harm.
During the journey across the plains, Hyrum, in company with several other boys, attempted to climb a hill which was very steep, and when about two thirds of the way up he was called back, but before he had reached the bottom, one of the boy's companions, still above him, started a boulder, which came tearing down the hill behind, and although he was warned of its approach, the warning was too late for him to get in a secure place; the rock in its terrible force struck another close by him and was shattered into many pieces, one of which struck him on the shoulder, liter-ally tearing his shirt sleeve from his arm and bruising his shoulder severely. The only consolation he had in meeting with this accident, was the opportunity of riding instead of walking.
In the vicinity of "Ash Hollow," as Hyrum remembers, he received a severe whipping from a man whose name he has forgotten, because he was not attending to some cattle in a proper manner. This man was what would be called in these times "a tramp," who was picked up by one of the captains of a ten. He was not a member of the Mormon church. Benjamin, who was always the best pugilist in the family, witnessed the whipping at a distance. During the day, while traveling, Benjamin cut and stored away in his wagon several good willow sticks, and in the evening, after pitching camp, he sought an opportunity to meet Mr. "Tramp." and wore out some of the willows upon him until the fellow plead for mercy. The "tramp" did not attempt to whip any other child during the journey, nor seek revenge on Benjamin.
In arriving in a mountainous country, where wolves abound, probably somewhere between Green and Bear rivers, as Hyrum remembers, a cow belonging to the family strayed away from camp and after the boys had almost exhausted their patience hunting for her, the carcass was found, and three large wolves sitting up contentedly viewing the wreck which they had brought the cow to. For the first time Hyrum realized the desperate character of the wolf.
The Cluff family went to Provo and permanently located there, pitching their camp near to where the log fort was located.
In the spring following the arrival of the family in Provo, Hyrum had reached the age of ten years. About this time Father Cluff, with a number of his sons and son-in-law Hyrum Sweet, among the party was Hyrum, strolled around over the country east of the fort with a view of deciding upon the best place to locate a farm for himself and five oldest sons. This was only in line with the policy which had characterized his pioneering up to his gathering to the Rocky Mountains. They made their way, in order to obtain a general view of the country, desolate as it was, to a point of a plateau or bench land extending down from Rock canyon to nearly in an Eastern line from the fort. They ascended to the summit of the bench land which was about one hundred feet higher than the plain around. Afterwards this prominence was named "Grave Yard Bench" from the circumstance of it being selected as a burying place for those who died in the fort. The elevation has now a more appropriate name, "Temple Hill," which had been given to it by reason of the city reserved a block for a temple site. The remains of those buried there have been removed to the present cemetery. On this elevation, Father Cluff with some of his sons, among the number being the youthful Hyrum and Hyrum Sweet, a son-in-law, viewed the surrounding country towards every point of the compass. The culmination of this survey was reached when Father Cluff, pointing towards where the State Insane Asylum now stands said, there is the place that attracts my attention and there we will locate our farm. Immediately west and bearing north of the Asylum building he entered two twenty acre pieces and twenty acre piece for each of his first five sons and twenty acres for Hyrum Sweet. The rules or sentiment of the colonists relative to taking up land precluded the possibility of younger members of the family. To begin to reclaim this barren land, the first effort was made to conduct the waters of Provo river to the land through a canal, hence the "East Union" canal was commenced. This canal encircles the point of the "Temple Hill" on the west and on the south, thence following along the base of the mountain toward Springville, pass-ing through the Asylum ground. In fact a part of Moses' twenty acres is now within the farm limits of that institution. The parties, as we now remember who assisted Father Cluff, were his sons, Hyrum Sweet, Josiah W. Fleming and his son Thaddeus, William Carter, Lyman Carter and the Hoops and Redfields. The canal was located and the levelling done by Father Cluff and others. The work was accomplished by an improvised level made of a straight edged board with a pool of water in the top. The first year's experience with the new canal was very trying, as heavy breaks occurred, especially along the steep side of the bench, where the sand and gravel is so loose, the water filtering through loosens and finally breaks away and soon a deep cut is made. These breaks occurred so often that in order to save the crop, the waters of Rock canyon were conducted to the farm. After the first two years the canal became water tight and ever after has been perfectly safe.
Before the family moved out under the south side of "Temple Hill," incidents, worthy of mention, came under Hyrum's observation at the fort, prominent among which was the visitation of three stalwart Indian chiefs to the fort. As they approached the door of Sister Henry Young's house, evidently for the purpose of entering peace-ably or otherwise, otherwise as their actions indicated, Mrs. Young, a large woman possessed of fiery hair, occupied the whole of the door, which baffled the Indians in their attempt to enter. One of the red men stood with the butt of his gun on the ground pointing towards the woman in the door, his foot upon the hammer. As his companion stepped up to the door hoping to get Sister Young to move away from it the foot of the Indian, with the gun, slipped down causing the gun to be discharged, the bullet of which passed through the head of his companion, killing him instantly. The two Indians immediately fled, leaving their dead companion upon the ground.
The first grist mill erected in Provo was located about one mile north of and a little east of the fort, on what is now known as the "Provo Woolen Mills" race. At the time of the incident which we allude to, Mr. Thomas Ross was the miller. The mill was of the most primitive kind; the machinery only being covered with a board and slab roof. Mr. Ross was grinding corn in the night time and while in the act of pouring corn into the hopper, crack went the report of a gun, the bullet passing under his arm and entering the hopper. Conjecturing the presence of savages and that they designed to take his life, he at once extinguished the light, turned off the water from the wheel and with caution slipped down into the tail race, and waded along the same for a hundred yards and then made swift tracks for the fort. The Indians, though but few, fled thinking Mr. Ross, with his gun had the advantage of them and that their lives were in imminent danger and all the time Mr. Ross was speeding on his way to the fort. The Indians in their flight shot and killed a span of fine gray horses belonging to Wm. W. Cluff. Safety from Indian depredation seemed now to be perman-ent and people began spreading out from the pentup fort life. The Cluff family selected for a home a spot of excellent garden land at the base of the Temple Hill and on the line of the "East Union Ditch" being a mile east of the fort. The older sons were now going out upon their own "hook." Hyrum remained at home until after he was twenty-five years of age and was one of the main farm hands. While he was still single, he was called into military service. This was on account of what is known in the history of Utah as the Black Hawk war, which broke out in 1865 by the Ute Indians going upon the war path, led by Black Hawk, a brother of the notorious chief "Walker," who died some years previously. Hyrum was a lieutenant in Alva Green's company and left home for the seat of hostilities in Sanpete and Sevier counties. The expedition against the Indians was conducted by General William B. Pace, who was already in the field, had met the enemy in battle.
Hyrum was in the field swinging his grain cradle when the call was made upon him to go with his platoon of Company C of the Utah militia against the Indians. He immediately dropped the cradle and in twenty-four hours was in the saddle ready to start for the seat of Indian hostilities in San Pete Valley. Captain W. M. Mills of the company who succeeded H.H. Cluff in 1865 when he departed on his mission to Europe, now steps forward and agrees to furnish men of the company, who are not called into service, to finish cutting Hyrum's wheat. Hyrum's platoon of Company C, in connection with other platoons selected from other companies of the Utah County militia joined Captain Green's command. This command left Provo City on the 8th of August and reached Salt Creek, in Juab County, the first day a distance of forty miles, where they camped. The day following, this company of cavalry, consisting of sixty men, proceeded up Salt Creek canyon into San Pete Valley and pitched camp at Fountain Green. Here the command remained for about two months by order of General W. B. Pace. This was considered Strategic Station as it commanded protection of the passes into Thistle Valley where the animals of the settlers were kept and the mail route through the mountains into Juab Valley below. Scouting in these directions was kept up. Every day the mail left Sanpete Valley for Nephi in Juab and from Nephi to San Pete. With these mail carriers a guard of five men were sent who, when they met as was customary, at the "Narrows" in the canyon, returned to their respective commands.
Several places in Salt Creek Canyon, where Indians had committed murders, were designated by inscriptions upon prominent rocks. One particular incident of a very horrifying character is related by Hyrum. An aged man and his wife were traveling through the canyon in a one-ox cart, when the savages came upon them, killing the two, and appropriating their effects to their own hellish purpose.
Our scouts, during the Indian warfare, often experience thrilling incidents that sets the hair upright, trailing Indians over mountains and through canyons and dales, is not a very agreeable pursuit. On one occasion Hyrum and his ten companions were hastily drawn from their camp to defend fleeing white settlers, pursued, as they supposed by savages. Ten or fifteen white men of the town went up Fountain Green canyon for wood and although they were armed a phantom frightened them so badly that they left everything and jumped, each on a horse and made for home as rapidly as possible. The soldiers seeing them fleeing towards home from the mountains, jumped on their horses, ten in number, and went forth to meet the frightened men. These wood haulers had discovered the tracks of an animal which without close examination was a horse track with an Indian on it. Terrorized by this blood curdling appearance, an alarm was given and down the canyon they sped their way. When met by the soldiers, some of them accompanied the soldiers back to their wagons where, on close examination it was found that the track was made by a "split-hoof" animal, but adjudged to be larger than any animal of that species, known to exist in the mountains. As the soldiers reached a point where the ascent was too great for horses to climb, some men were left with the horses while the others climbed the ascent to a beautiful plateau of level summit. As they stood upon this beautiful spot admiring the grandeur of the scenery they forgot the object of their search until the report of several guns were heard. When every gun was brought to "ready." Just then an elk was seen running across the mountain side. Ten guns were discharged, four balls taking effect and the animal was the property of the soldiers. The mystery of the first report of guns was solved. The soldiers below had fired at the elk without effect. This elk was evidently the track-maker which caused the alarm to the woodmen, as it was the largest elk ever seen in this mountain region. The soldiers and woodmen who accompanied them, now returned to camp better satisfied with the elk than the scalp of an Indian.
The humane and philanthropic nature of Captain Green was the praise of his men and the settlers, the beneficiaries. Whenever any of the citizens were in trouble he was ready to help them. On one occasion he and some of his men cut fifteen acres of grain and shocked it up for a man who was sick and unable to do it himself.
The company was finally removed to "Twelve Mile" creek, south of Manti, where it remained until October when it was disbanded. The Indians had gone south into winter quarters and were not likely to give the colonists any further trouble until spring. Hyrum returned to his home in Provo.
Hyrum remained living with his parents during the winter, after his return from a soldier's life in San Pete County. He had not how-ever, long to remain peacefully at home, for in the early spring of the year 1867, the Indians renewed hostilities in the south and began depredations in San Pete county. Again Hyrum re-enlisted and volunteered his services in defense of his religious brethren of the south who were striving to build up homes and reclaim the desert waste. The aborigines could not appreciate the industry of their white friends and only saw an opportunity of helping them-selves to the cattle and horses roaming on their hunting grounds. While this could not be tolerated, there existed a more grievous offense, that of killing men, women and children. But white men were not always considerate of the nature and rights of the savages. The "Black Hawk War" was incited by the injudicious acts of a resident of San Pete county insulting and Indian chief by rudely pulling him off his horse.
The company in which Hyrum enlisted reached Ft. Gunnison and was placed in Captain Pierce's company under command of General W. B. Pace. The first military move looking to the safety of the people was to gather in from outside, sparsely settled districts to the larger towns, affording the people better protection and the soldiers better concentration of forces. As a better means of self protection, all male citizens were drilled in the manual of arms and taught in the art of Indian warfare, for as yet emigrants from Europe were not acquainted with the nature of the savages and their mode of warfare. Firearms were scarce, but such as there were, were provided the men. Officers from General Pace's command were detailed, during their inactivity in camp at Ft. Gunnison, to go to the principal settlements in the county and take the male citizens of proper age, through the drill. During one of their return trips, these officers were fired upon by the Indians from an ambush and two of the four fell dead. This occurred at "Twelve Mile Creek" while their horses were drinking. The names of the killed were Major Vance, and Sargeant Houtz. The two survivors made their escape and returned to Manti where a small detachment of soldiers under Major Funk hastened to Ft. Gunnison, arriving the following morning and conveyed the sad intelligence to the command stationed at that place. General Pace's command immediately marched forth and recovered the bodies of the slain and then divided into small scouting parties. The few warriors who had done the murderous deed had fled to the fastness of the mountains beyond successful pursuit. However the scouting parties, by detour movement, reach Indian trails through the defiles and mountains so as to intercept the warriors, but several hours start enabled the Indians to reach points of safety previous to their arrival. Hyrum, with nine other comrades, took a direct route over the mountain in the dark hours of the night while the rain poured down making the climbing extremely hazardous, hazardous because of the slippery condition caused by the rain and the liability of being attacked by the renegades. This latter possibility, however, was not so much a cause of fear, as Indians are not generally on the war path at night. After guarding the trails for forty-eight hours the scouts returned to headquarters at Ft. Gunnison. The main forces had scoured the country in a southeast direction through the "Fish Lake" country, and while not successful in finding the Indians, a satisfying opinion prevailed with the command that their appearance and vigilance had the effect of checking the red man from raiding in that section of country, as the savages while hid up in the maintains fastness from the knowledge of the white foe, nevertheless, knew the movements of the pale face below, and so it proved in this case.
During the campaign, in which Hyrum served as a volunteer, it is remarkable that he was not in any engagement with the Indians, nor surprised or attacked by them in all the hazardous scouting trips over mountain and through dell. He returned peacefully to a peace-ful home in Provo and engaged in agricultural pursuits.
The Black Hawk war virtually closed toward the latter part of the year 1867, having cost the Territory about $2,000,000.00 The crafty war chief approached Colonel Head at Uintah and sued for peace, and as a pledge of earnestness in closing the war he requested the Colonel to cut his hair off.