John Miller Stoddard
Contributor: marnweeks Created: 8 months ago Updated: 8 months ago
This is the story of John Miller Stoddard and his Family:
John was an old man, not in years, but old before his time because of the hard life he had lived. Coal mining in Scotland made one old before' one's time. His last few years were spent in Cedar City, where life was also hard. Here he had time to reflect. He remembered when he had first arrived in Coal Creek, as it was then called.
Accompanied by his wife, two sons, and a grandson, he had made his way across the plains to Salt Lake City, and then on to Cedar City. Here he had picked up a stick, stuck it in the ground and told his wife Janet it was her "fig tree in Zion". This remark was occasioned because sometime earlier in Scotland, Janet had expressed a great desire to have her own fig tree in Zion. The site was barren so the remark implied something was still to be desired. Their coming to Zion in 1851 was timely, as Brigham Young was looking for settlers with a knowledge of mining. They had stayed in Salt Lake City only a week before setting out for Southern Utah. It ended a long journey that had begun three years earlier in Scotland, their native land.
Important Dates on the life of John Miller Stoddard:
Birth of John Stoddard, 25 February 1795.
Birth of Janet Kerr, 17 August 1794.
Marriage of John and Janet, 13 February 1813.
Births of their ten children, 1814 – 1836.
Ellen, 1814 - Margaret, 1825 - Martha, 1816 - Janet, 1827 - Christina, 1818 - David, 1830 - James, 1820 - Agnes, 1833 - Alexander, 1823 - John, 1836.
Emigrated to St. Louis, Missouri, Sept. - Oct. 1848
Crossed the plains to Salt Lake Valley, April - Oct. 1851 Arrived Coal Creek (now Cedar City, Utah), 11 November 1851 Death of John Stoddard, April 1854
Janet and other family members moved to Wellsville, Utah, 1859 Death of Janet Kerr, 26 December 1871
John Stoddard was a coal miner. Day after day he went into the mines as his ancestors had done for generations. It was not always the same mine. The owners moved the workers from place to place as the need arose. For generations they worked in many places in Mid Lothian and East Lothian. As the different veins 'of coal became depleted, the workers moved to another place. As a result, the Stoddards lived many places. They packed their few belongings and walked to their new location, or if they were fortunate to have a goat or other small animal, it could be used to carry household articles. They were forced to endure many hardships and tribulations.
John grew up in a family of eight children, four boys and four girls. He was the second eldest, born 25 February, 1795, in New Battle, Mid Lothian, formerly Haddington, Scotland. His parents were James Stoddard and Martha Miller. The children in the family according- to age were: Alexander, John, Helen, David, Christian, Margaret, Martha and James. The fourth child, David, with his wife and four children booked passage on the ship, "Berlin', July 1849. The destination was New Orleans. There is an account showing the names of his wife and children and the amount they paid. Whether the family made this trip is unknown as no further record of them has been found.
EARLY LIFE IN SCOTLAND
When John was nearly 18 years old, he married Janet Kerr, born 16 August, 1794, the only child of William Kerr and Helen Leitch. She spelled her name Kerr, but there are many different spellings of the name. This is partly ex- plained when it is realized the average person did not know how to read or write for many centuries, so whenever the need for the name to be written, the 'few people who could write, usually clerks of church or state, would write it any way it sounded to them. A few of the different spellings: Ker, Keyr, Kerre, Carre, Carr, Keor. From an old book,'Kerr is an old border surname of Lothian-Kerr-Roxburgh-Lancastershire-Carr (this name means brushwood or kjare in early Scottish language).
The Kerrs are a clan in Scotland. Their history is recorded. They were brave fighting men at the border of Eng- land in early days. They had two tartans; one for dress and one f or every day. Because Janet lived in Mid Lothian and only descendants of a certain Innes Keril Duke of Roxburghe, were permitted to live there, it can be assumed she was a descendant, although her direct line is not traced back that far.'
Janet was found among the working class in the early 1800's. Working in the mines of Scotland at this time was unbelievably difficult. Janet went to the mines until her babies were born and returned a short time after. Her daughter Ellen was killed in the mines, which were poorly lighted and full of bad air. The wages were low and the conditions were extremely bad. The women and children were employed in degrading labor. The women carried coal on their backs up the face of the mine. If the load fell, it would fall on the person following. The Act of 1842 was to prevent women from working underground, but all was not well even after emancipation from legal bondage. The story of the children during these times was most pitiful.
At the turn of the century families were not free to leave their employment. The story is not pleasant, one has but to read a little of these conditions to feel great sympathy for the people who were forced to live in that manner.
The coal miners' living was of the most simple and frugal type. Oatmeal porridge with a little sour milk was their main food, and maybe a little meat once a week, usually on Sunday. Their clothing was the cheapest available.
In the fall of 1833, John was imprisoned for the sin of another man who had made a declaration in a public meeting at Mucklets near Craig Hall and Seney Hill; that any man who would take bounty money service would dread the consequences. This declaration was blamed on John, who would not deny he said this. John went to Jeffrey, his prime minister, and got him to intercede in court with the judge. So John's sentence was reduced to three month's imprisonment in- stead of the usual three years.
Lord Dendas, the estate man, was so enraged with the mitigation of the court, that he had John's family move from the tenement in which they were living to an uninhabited house. It improved their living conditions.
During the time of John's imprisonment, his daughter Ellen married Alexander Archibald. Three months later, on Christmas Eve, she was crushed to death by a fall of rocks in the coal mine
At the expiration of his term in prison, John moved his family to Penston in the parish of Gladsmuir, East Lothian. It was here that their son John was born in 1836. The family lived in Penston for a year and then moved to a place called West Pans, seven miles east of Edinburgh. Several of the children attended school here. The family then moved to Crofthead, about 20 miles west of Edinburgh for a short time, then to New Battle, and then to Stubhill, always fol- lowing the coal vein.
JOYFUL TIDINGS ARE HEARD
By 1844, the family had changed greatly. Margaret, born 1825, had lived only eight months. Agnes, born 1833, had lived just six years. Ellen had been killed in 1833. Martha, Christina, James, and Alexander had married and were raising families. Janet was to be married later in the year. David was 14 and John was eight years old. In Stubhill the Stoddard's lived in a rock house that was joined to others. Their good friends, James and Jane Nibley, lived in the adjoining house. one day the Mormon missionaries were preaching on the green, and Jane Nibley 'Stood and listened to Elder McEwan's sermon and drank it all in "as though it were living water which was springing up into everlasting life". Many times after, she declared that for the "first time in-all her life her soul was satisfied and she was converted, thoroughly converted, by the first sermon." After the meeting was over she went directly to Elder McEwan and asked to be baptized. It all seemed so plain and simple to her, the plan that he had outlined, that without hesitating a moment she wished to become a member of the Church by baptism. He asked her if she had heard of the Mormon people and if she had read any of their works. She answered that she had never once heard of them until that day when she stood through the meeting holding her baby Margaret. He stated that he thought it would not be wise for her to be baptized just then but that he would leave some tracts with her and she could read them over and study the subject carefully and pray about it also. He stated that if she was of the same opinion when he came back the next Sabbath he would baptize her. She was disappointed in being put off in this way. She wanted to be baptized then and there and stated after, that she felt a dread to think that if she should die before the next Sunday and had not received baptism she would surely be lost. During the week she read the tracts and was more convinced and converted to the truth of the Elder's message. She was so anxious that her husband might join in her way of thinking and receive the gospel too, and yet she was so fearful that he might say no and take a stand against it, that she hardly knew how stealthily or cunningly to lay the matter before him, for she said if he didn't believe, she knew no power would ever be able to turn him. Consequently she was full of anxiety to get the matter properly presented to him. So when he would come home from his work in the mines, she would read these tracts to him and' make observations -concerning them in such a way as to try and catch him. To her joy and somewhat surprise also, she heard him say one evening when she asked, "What do you think of all this?" He answered, "Aye, but it is true." So the next Sunday when Elder McEwan came back they were both ready for baptism and were accordingly baptized.
The Nibleys told John and Janet that they had heard the Mormon Elders preach and had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. John and Janet listened to the explanation of the gospel by Elder Matthew McCurrin and ElderHenry J. McEwan, and believed it was true. From this point on, the course of their lives was completely changed. The missionaries walked the ten miles from Edinburgh to Stub hill every Sunday to preach the gospel as restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Many of the Stoddard family were converted and were baptized in the Hunterfield Branch and the records show the names and dates of the family members who joined the Church.
The family later moved back to Crofthead, then to a place called Bothgate, and then to Hunterfield which was 10 miles south of Edinburgh. They talked of the gospel all the time for people had never heard of it in these places. The Stoddards lived in Hunterfield until 1848, when they left for America. Janet, who married Robert Blyth, was the only living child who was not found on the Hunterfield Branch baptismal records. Her daughter Isabelle was converted and baptized .later when John returned to Scotland on a mission in the 1880's. The missionaries were so successful, they baptized most of the inhabitants of Hunterfield.,
THE DEPARTURE FOR AMERICA
Much has been written about the emigration from England to the. United States by great numbers of Mormon Saints. Charles Dickens, the English novelist, in his book the "Uncommercial Traveler", writes of visiting the wharf at Liver- pool, where the people were gathering, and actually going aboard one of the vessels. His account is very interesting and worth reading.
That this was not an ordinary emigration venture and that these were not ordinary men and women, the distinguished Mr. Dickens seemed to sense; but what perhaps he did not understand were the factors that made this differ from any one of hundreds of colonizing projects what set these men and women apart from the tens of thousands of emigrants who were continuously leaving for new frontiers. Mr. Dickens perhaps had not read, or perchance having read, had not comprehended the instructions given of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1830, and following, wherein He said:
It and, verily, verily, I say unto you, that this Church have I established and called forth out of the wilderness". "And even so will I gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my voice". "Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you that the field is white already to harvest; wherefore, thrust in your sickles, and reap with all your might, mind and strength." "And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy."
In accordance with these and other revelations, the Church began to gather unto itself truth seeking men and women from an ever widening circle, as its missionaries penetrated farther and farther, and their world wide mission of bearing witness of the gospel restoration. As testimonies of the truth came to the humble and the honest in heart, so there fell upon them the "spirit of gathering". No sacrifice seemed too great.
The Stoddards booked passage on the "Sailor Prince'. On the 24th of September, 1848, John and Janet sailed from Liverpool, England, to America. With them went David, age 10, John, age 12, and a married son James with his family. The "Sailor Prince" was one of the many vessels carrying Mormon emigrants to America. It was a vessel of 950 tons. The captain's name was McKechnie. L. D. Butler was the leader of the company. Orson Pratt was the emigration agent
There were 311 passengers on board. After a safe voyage; the "Sailor Prince" arrived in New Orleans where Elder Scovil was on hand to receive the emigrants. Four children died on board. One of the brethren was seized with a violent fever, but was, healed by the prayer of faith and anointed with oil. In some respects the officers and crew behaved badly to the Saints. Limited information is recorded of this voyage, but much general information is available.
Mormon travelers were kept together under close supervision. Following the counsel of Church leaders, most traveled as entire families. Even before they set foot upon the gangplank in Liverpool, they were assured of a welcome to their settlement at journey's end. All details had been prearranged. Through the Liverpool periodical, the Latter-day Saints "Millennial Star", and the guidance of Church leaders, the Mormon emigrants had been advised as to cost of the journey, sailing dates, regulations on baggage, and type of clothing, method of packing, and baggage labeling.
If he was among a large group from one area, he usually had been accompanied to the city of departure by an experienced Church official. Whenever possible, Mormons chartered whole ships, or at least the steerage, in order to keep their people united and under Church leadership. Because of the organization and discipline which prevailed, Mormon ships quickly gained the distinction of being among the best on the Atlantic run between Liverpool and American ports. A select committee of the House of Commons on emigrant ships commended Mormon directed vessels for superior safety and comfort.
Order would prevail, the travelers would feel a discipline controlling their behavior; problems--would be properly dealt with. A leader was appointed on his shoulders fell ,the responsibility for the deportment of the Saints aboard, and more significantly, for their spiritual well being. But it is not the way with Mormons to put such a load of responsibility on one such minister; hardly a few days out to sea the new president chose two counselors and organized the people into wards, each in turn headed by a president. These ward presidents, who reported daily to their leader, kept lists of names, supervised the work of cleaning, watched over the emigrants' conduct, and took charge of lost property. Other appointments included a captain of the guard to keep watch at night, a clerk or secretary to keep a journal, and a chorister to lead members in their hymns. On some ships a committee planned recreation, including the publication of a ship newspaper. A small band provided music.
The prescribed daily routine included rising at the sound of a bell at five or six in the morning,, cleaning their living quarters and the deck, and assembling for prayer and breakfast. After breakfast all' had their allotted tasks, including the making of tents to be used in crossing the Great Plains. Often wards rotated cooking under super- vision of the presidents. Regular religious services, evening prayers, and Sunday meetings of prayer and preaching were an integral part of the schedule. On some ships daily school for children was provided, as well as evening classes for adults who sat on the deck floor around the lecturer and learned of geography, astronomy, agricultural innovations, history, and literature. Children often devised games for themselves. Although nineteenth-century concepts of hygiene did not yet include the benefits of fresh air, the sick and the babies were taken on deck "whether willing or not," as often as weather permitted.
The enforced spirit of industry and order was calculated to be a good preventive against grumbling, as it kept the minds of the people actively engaged in the better things of the kingdom. When dissension arose, the matter was handled .by the ship's council, consisting of the ship president and his counselors. A brother would be requested to appear before the ship's council, confess that he had given way to a wrong spirit, and ask forgiveness. Tension was often alleviated by leaders who retained a sense of humor. (On the "Charlie Buck" in 1854, when discontent with the provisions led to excessive grumbling, Richard Ballantyne had called a meeting and announced that the next one to be heard complaining would be appointed to grumble for the company and as many as unite with him shall be appointed to be his counselors.)
True, there were reasons for complaints. But their good attitudes helped them endure their privations. Realistically there were inconveniences and discomforts aboard the vessels such as shortage of water for bathing and culinary purposes, poorly ventilated accommodations, monotonous diet, poor cooking facilities and lack of privacy. Organization kept order, and work projects made time pass less slowly. Still the passage was slow, the days dreary, and the night stormy. It must have seemed an eternity for the travelers eager to begin their new lives in a new land. The land which they finally sighted was doubly thrilling to the Mormons because of their conviction that it was the chosen land, the land of promise, Zion. One such emigrant a few years earlier expressed what these travelers must have felt.
'How well I remember the first step that I took on American soil! How thrilled I was to be in the land of the free, the land of promise! I had been taught to believe it was the land of promise blessed above all other lands, and although only a boy of 15 years, I felt like thanking God for the blessings I then enjoyed.',
LIFE IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
The "Sailor Prince' landed in New Orleans on the 24th of November. The Stoddards and 150 of their fellow passengers under the presidency, of L. D. Butler, sailed from New Orleans for St. Louis on the steamer 'Grand Turk.' The fare, from New Orleans to St. Louis was two dollars and a half for each adult passenger; children between four and fourteen years, half price.' Elder Butler's company of British Saints took temporary employment in St. Louis, arriving there four days before Christmas.
Many Mormons stayed in St. Louis happily, choosing not, to join the Saints in the West at this time. The Stoddard. family stayed there for three years; the men walking to the, coal mines on Dry Hill every day to mine the coal and walking to their meetings on Sunday.
History tells us St. Louis was a friendly town, a refuge for anyone to come and be welcomed. It was a bustling, city with many different nationalities making up the population'. In 1845, after the expulsion from Nauvoo, Illinois" considerable number of Mormons came to St. Louis and stay until Brigham Young sent word to the members to join main body of the Church as Johnston Is army was on its way Utah. A great number responded. Those who stayed were without church counsel and for the most part became inactive In later years the number of Mormons increased and' the LDS Church became firmly established again.
The following year Alexander, Ellen and two children sailed from Liverpool, 5 September 1849 on the ship, "Berlin". There were 53 Latter-day Saints on board under the presidency of James G. Brown. The company had a tedious voyage, during which the passengers suffered much from cholera; 43 deaths occurred on board, of whom 13 adults and 15 children belonged to the Saints. Ellen, and her baby daughter Martha were two of those who died. This was the greatest loss of life, that up to that time, had been experienced among the Saints wending their way to Zion since the emigration from Europe commenced in 1840.
Alexander and his little son, John, joined the rest of the- family in St. Louis. Not long afterwards Alexander was administered an overdose of laudanum (a sedative) by the doc- tor. Two men were to keep watch and keep him walking all the time as it would counteract the chills and fever. They secured liquor, neglected their patient and he never awoke. The young boy, John, now without either parent, was cared for by other members of the family.
James and his wife, Violet Bennett, brought four young sons to America in 1848. The family lived in St. Louis for a short time and then moved to Nebraska. The mother died in 1852, and the father in 1854. The four young boys remained in the east.
CROSSING THE PLAINS
In April, 1851, John began to make plans for their journey across the plains. A wagon and provisions were acquired, and they joined the Saints preparing for the trek. Order and unity would be as essential for survival on this journey as they had been for peace on the ocean voyage. The wagons were ready, the companies formed and the long trek began. Many walked as only the provisions and some goods belonging to the emigrants could be loaded into the wagons. One can picture the children trudging between the wagons along the dirt trail. The older boys might spell off the wagon drivers, or walk with their new found friends along the way.
David, who was then 21 years of age, told of the trip many years later. "We organized a company of ten to cross the plains to Salt Lake City, John Easton being appointed Captain. John Easton and family, -James Easton and family, Robert Easton and family, Alexander Easton and family, Mrs. Easton, their mother and two married men, George and Matthew Easton, Tames Williamson and family, Sandy Kerr and family, Sandy Mustard and daughter, John and Andrew Burt, Joseph Horn, James Berner, my brother John, my father and I, James, Robert and David Bullock. Years later Eva Thomas, daughter of John, recalled seeing David Bullock. He was coming up the walk of the home where she was staying, carrying a turkey. He knocked at the door and said he had heard that John Stoddard's daughter was there and he wanted her to have a turkey. They had a good visit and the turkey was gratefully accepted.
David's narrative continues, "We left in April and were six weeks on the road to Winter Quarters. We were compelled to stop here a long time for the rivers had overflown their banks, and it was impossible to take the old road up the Platte River or the old Mexican Trail so we were compelled to send out scouts to locate a new route.
"After a delay of several weeks we were organized with a train of 50 wagons so as to be strong enough. We joined Captain Cardon's company to cross the plains. After a week's travel we were discouraged as so much time was wasted.
The captain of our ten, John Easton, called us all in- to council and laid before us the conditions of affairs, ask- d if we were willing to travel alone as a company of 10 and leave the others. We all agreed to do this. As near as I can remember, about the fifth day of our travel we saw a great cloud of dust in the east, about one mile away and Captain Easton called a halt. We thought it was a crowd of Indians and we would surely be destroyed, but to our surprise it was a large herd of buffalo, about 5,000. The herd was one mile long and one fourth of a mile wide. We had all we could do to save our wagons from being turned upside down.' A note about buffalos indicates that despite their ferocious appearance, they shy away from humans. They run with their heads down and crash through anything in their paths. The buffalo of Kansas were especially powerful creatures, weighing as much as 3,000 pounds. Hunters of skill and courage were needed to bring in a supply of fresh meat. An account from a newspaper clipping from the "Deseret News" described the situation.
"Bullets rebounding from tough thick old buffalo skulls soon taught the eager inexperienced horse-men the futility of aiming at anything but the animal's heart. The hide on the skull piece of one of the dead bisons proved, upon examination, to be an inch thick and covered with a coarse matting of hair, a fine helmet of defense which fully explained the phenomenon of the flattened bullets."
Arrington tells us more of the prairie dwellers. During succeeding days, many deer, antelope, geese and ducks furnished a variety of meat for the pioneer leaders. The pioneers encountered other denizens of the prairie. Advance riders reported a seemingly endless prairie dog colony through which the pioneer train had to travel. Amusing little animals the prairie dogs were, speedily disappearing at the approach of any moving thing and as eagerly popping up again out of their underground burrows once more as danger was receding.
"Grass, apparently, was the diet of these little prairie dwellers, as it was eaten off quite short in all directions as far as the pioneers could see. Meager fare seemed the order of the day for the cattle."
David continued his story, "Another day we came in sight of a large Indian camp. We passed by the place and camped about two miles from them. We had just made fires and were preparing our suppers when suddenly the camp was surrounded by about 200 Indians. We gave them all the camp could spare in eatables and soon they went away whooping in their Indian fashion." The pioneers passed through the grassy plains of Nebraska and the brown hills of Wyoming. The land was new and strange. They saw the swallows overhead, the snakes along the trail, and the rabbits in the fields alongside.
Each day was much like every other day. A raucous horn blast awoke the travelers each morning. Prayers and break- fast, then preparation for the day's journey. David and John, increasingly practiced at the routines, soon became proficient at making and breaking camp. Every day was like every other day except for the rain which sometimes held up the company at rivers too swollen to ford. Or buffalo herds which occasionally appeared and had to be headed off lest the Mormon cattle mingle with the wilder herd and wander off, or the Indians who occasionally appropriated some few head of cattle. They never seriously menaced the Saints, but the Scottish families must have been apprehensive at every evidence of the "savage redskins" of whom they would have heard such fearful accounts.
There were the ordinary distresses of the trail; the pesky mosquitoes, the sudden thunderstorms, the wagons which pitched forward over a broken wheel, the frequent sickness, and the howling wolves. Those wild cries in the black prairie nights must have been terrifying.
There were the pleasures, too. Each evening there would be singing, and maybe dancing around the camp f ire. There was always the dream coming closer and closer as the mountains came into nearer view. The hardest part was the last part tip mountain inclines and through narrow canyons, but even that passed. They had endured sickness, hunger, and weariness to reach their promised land. There it lay, spread before them. They saw the wide sweep of flat valley floor, the settlements spotted along the few streams, the business center forming to the north of the canyon mouth; there before them lay the y6ung Salt Lake City. The end of the trail! It was Friday, October 3, 1851.
David's story continues, "Saturday, October 4, we all went and worked on a threshing machine and received our pay in wheat. Sunday it was conference and with happy hearts and contrite spirits we all attended Church.
On Sunday evening William Muir, a resident of six or ten miles from Salt Lake, hired me to go to a place four miles from Hot Springs called Sessions (now Bountiful) to work on a new house. A week from this time my brother John came out and told me that I was called on a mission and that Brigham Young had made mention of my name in the conversation with others. We were to go to Iron County to work in the iron works and work for nothing except enough seed wheat to supply us. So John, Janet and the boys heeded the call of President Young, again packed their wagon with their few belongings, gathered food-stuffs and made preparations to move on to Southern Utah to a still more desolate area.
A note on the history of Cedar City reads: "Cedar City was originally known as Coal Creek, because the creek nearby passed through coal beds. It was finally named Cedar City because of the abundance of cedar trees in the vicinity."
An exploring party sent out by the Mormon Church, under the leadership of Parley P. Pratt, went south from Salt Lake City in November of 1849, for the purpose of locating sites for Mormon settlements in the southern country.
That company selected and dedicated two town sites. The first of which was named the "City of the Little Salt Lake," but was afterward re-christened Parowan, and Cedar City, which was 19 miles to the south. Both of these towns were selected in 1851, and were bridge heads of Mormon colonization along the old Spanish Trail.
The exploring party found something else which was of compelling interest' to the great Mormon leader, Brigham Young. They discovered great beds of iron ore. Iron was scarce and high priced in the Great Basin because it had to be freighted by ox teams across the plains, yet it was a necessity in pioneer development.
Fig Tree in Zion:
There is a story in the family that the mother Janet was very religious more so than her husband John. When she wanted to emigrate to Utah she said she would be happy if she had a "fig tree in Zion. When they arrived at Coal Creek John is reported to have taken a stick and thrust it into. the ground, saying, "There is your fig tree in Zion. Now you can sit under it's shade."
The Stoddards began at once to help the others survey fields for. an irrigation canal so that they could raise crops for the following year to feed themselves while they were developing the iron industry. During the winter a site was selected for the iron industry. A coal mine was opened and roads were made out to the iron deposits which were 12 miles to the west. David continues, "My brother John and I had our place completed and got our father and mother moved into our new one room home on Christmas day. We suffered many hardships. We had to grind our wheat with a coffee mill for the nearest grist mill was at Provo."
William Carruthers wrote to Brigham Young on the 5th of February, 1852, on the progress being made at the new settlement. He said the brethren and their families had been ex- posed to the severity of the winter and were unwilling to turn their attention to coal and iron digging until they had built cabins to live in, and they wanted to enclose the fort in order to secure themselves against Indians. Also, the canyon was locked up with snow and they could not possibly get coal at that time to try the experiment of producing iron.
David continues, "In the spring of the next year, 1852, our leader called upon John Newton, William Stone and myself to go up the canyon to look for a coal mine. The snow was very deep, especially in the canyon and my shoes were all to pieces. . We had no matches and I tried to make a f ire with my gun but failed. I then crawled under a big rock, got my dog near me, put my feet in its flanks and sat there all night. Almost frozen to death, we started on our travel the next morning up the canyon. We agreed we would do our best. The rocks were covered with ice for one-half mile up the canyon, but somehow we made our way up, secured coal and returned with good report."
In February 1852, the 35 men who had come to this settlement were divided into two groups, one to care for the fields and one to care, or develop the iron industry. The work that was accomplished by that group of determined men is beyond belief as recorded by Church leaders.
The John Stoddard family lived in Cedar City until the year of 1860.
MOVE TO WELLSVILLE
In 1860, John's family headed north by wagon. As they drove through Salt Lake City, passersby watched them and accused them of apostatizing from the Church as they believed Salt Lake City was "Zion" and if anyone left the city, it was the same as leaving the Church. The family went to Cache Valley and with a small group of Scottish emigrants settled the village of Wellsville.
William F. Rigby tells us of early days in Wellsville in his journal: "The Bishop of the ward was William H. Maughan, a young man of about 25 years, a son of Peter Maughan, who was the President of the organization of the Church in Cache Valley. 4He was very kind to us in helping us get located, advising us how to proceed to get some logs out of the canyons and build some kind of shelter for the winter, both for ourselves and for our cattle. We had money enough to buy some wheat which we had made into flour at Hill's mill, at which there was no way of separating the smut and chaff from the wheat, but was all ground together and made a black or brown bread.
"We located at the end of what was called the new fort, for the town was not laid out as it is now, but was merely a fort of houses all huddled together for protection from Indian raids. It was a new and hard experience getting out logs from the canyons and getting out our winter's wood. And also securing hay from the hay fields down below Mendon, with which to feed our cattle for the winter. All these new experiences were difficult and of the worst kind, but we did manage to get a dugout roofed in and a little yard made with quaking-aspen poles and shed covered with hay where we could keep our cattle for the winter.
The first year there were the Stoddards, Leishmans, and Williamsons, and one or two other Scotch families, and the second year there were added the Kerr's, Murray's and Jardin's, and others, so that Wellsville was really the Scotch town of the North Country.
"We had no newspapers of any kind. Indeed during the first year or perhaps two, of our existence in Wellsville, I don't remember that we ever received or wrote a single letter. There were no mail routes established and letters were carried by anybody going or coming. We sold our stove to John Stoddard for a piece of land over in the east field.
"During the spring we had a large emigration from the south, and there were but few houses in the whole valley except at Wellsville. Men were living in their wagons, tents,"; and wickey-ups, getting in small crops, opening up water ditches, securing material to build homes and fence their fields."
The women, 'too, faced many challenges, Gerry Avant has depicted these problems in a remarkable way. Entitled 'Pioneer Women Sacrifice to Help Frontier,' he writes the following: "As they waited for better homes to be built, they had to make do with temporary quarters in cabins, lentos or dug-outs that had dirt floors. And while they waited, they fought the diseases and illnesses that came with such living conditions. They were expected to be content wearing home- spun when their genteel natures yearned for silk.
These women exhibited great physical strength and endurance, courage, spunk and spirituality. Their great courage and spunk enabled them to undergo the difficult experiences involved in pioneering and taming a wilderness. Their determination and desire for the better things in life enabled them to bring education, culture and women's rights to the pioneer settlements."
Gerry Avant continues, "Despite their obstacles, the women in the Mormon colonies were successful in their attempts to help tame the land and establish comfortable homes for their families. United by a common religious faith and a great sense of discipline, they greatly relied upon each other as they went to new frontiers to create settlements, thereby paving the way for others."
After the winter spent in the fort at Wellsville, the Stoddard family moved to a one room log house on Main Street which John, with the help of his future brother-in-law, Henry Haslam, built from material salvaged from their home in the fort and additional 'logs secured in the canyon. They planted a garden and did what they could to provide food and other necessities. John and his brother David built a small home for their mother, Janet.
A former neighbor of the Stoddards, Charles W. Nibley gives us a little insight of the welcome his family received when arriving in Wellsville. "When we got to Wellsville which was a village of perhaps 20 or 25 log houses, we drove at once to Granny Stoddard's dugout (Janet Kerr Stoddard). She had been baking her bread in a skillet and in the fire under the skillet she had a lot of the finest kind of large new potatoes, for it was now about the llth of September. She was very hospitable to us, gave us everything she had in the way of something to eat, but I recollect that those fine baked potatoes and the fresh buttermilk which she had churn- ed that morning was about the finest combination of food that I had ever tasted. We were all so hungry for vegetables, having had scarcely a taste of anything in the line of vegetables all the way across the plains. It makes my mouth water yet to think of Granny Stoddard's potatoes and buttermilk”
In spite of their struggle for existence, the pioneers .took time to visit their friends. Brother Nibley tells us of one such instance: "One day I was standing by the gate when Granny Stoddard came up to have a 'crack' (Scottish word for gossip) with my mother. Granny and Mother were quite chummy and exchanged old Scotch stories and recalled reminiscences much to their comfort and a good laugh was in both of them."
The day after Christmas, 1871, when 77 years old, Janet passed away. She was buried in the quiet little Wellsville cemetery, which is situated on a small knoll on the north edge of town. The snow capped Wasatch mountains surround Cache Valley, and are a beautiful sight from the cemetery.