Contributor: rossallred Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
This William Robertson history was posted in January 2013, by Judy Robertson, on an Internet group for the descendents of John Wesley Robertson (1891-1971) and Edna Harmer (1897-1984). The first paragraph (after this introduction), begins in first person and may have been written by William Robertson. The remainder appears to be written about him. –Scot Ellison, April 2013.
My father John Robertson began business at the Fields of Derry Burn of Kelrey, Glen Isla, Scotland, and did a carrying business to Dundee some twenty miles distant. He married our mother Elizabeth Edwards, born August 20, 1802, daughter of Thomas Edwards and Agness Lindsay. About the time of their marriage they also took up the wool trade, finding a market in Aberdeen and Sterling. He did a good business for about nine years, when sickness and an overstock of wool caused a sudden drop in the price which caused reverses in the business. His death soon followed, leaving the widow with six children and little or no means of support. Some of the neighbors did the best they could with the wool, and all of the creditors with the exception of one agreed to take a proportionate part of the dividend, one would not agree and a sale was declared and published but only the dissenting creditor and the auctioneer came to the sale. The auctioneer advised the widow to call in a few of her neighbors and the sale went on. The neighbors bought her household goods and gave them all back to her. She continued the Tavern which enabled her to send her sons to school. She paid in full all of her debts with the exception of the man who forced the sale. The family consisted of six boys and a girl. The girl died six weeks after the death of the father, at the age of six months. One son James was born on the day the Prophet Joseph Smith received the plates from the Angel Moroni, September 20, 1827.
After the boys left school they were apprenticed, William as a salesman in a hardware store or an Iron Monger so called at that time. While at Dundee two Mormon Elders came, namely, William Gibson and Hugh Finley. William accepted the message and invited the Elders to their home. All of the family joined the Church in 1849. Mormonism was very unpopular at that time.
On the first day of January 1850 the entire family and Robert McDell and his wife and step son Robert left their homes and started on their journey to America and to their destiny in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains. They traveled by rail to Glasgo. While there they were informed they could not bring their bolts of linen cloth and blankets which they had unless they were made up into separate articles, because of export duty. Two weeks were spent with the Robert Boyack family and with their aid the material was cut and made into articles. Some of the table linen was sold after arriving in Utah, some to Archie Gardner and a beautiful pattern to President Brigham Young.
On leaving Glasgow they traveled by steamer to Liverpool, after some delay they set sail in the Sister Vessel Argo, with a company of fifty saints, some of them were returning missionaries.
After a voyage of six weeks, much rough weather and near shipwrecking on the banks of Cuba they arrived at New Orleans. In conversation with Uncle Charles, who was nearly ninety years old, he related clearly many of their experiences on board the ship. Once a day they made a large pot of oat meal mush and served several families from this. Other parts of the meal was cooked by each family. He laughingly told of the boys going barefoot on the deck, at times it got so hot the resin would melt and stick to their feet, then they were glad to put their shoes back on.
On leaving New Orleans they took the river boat to Saint Louis, and then to Council Bluffs, Iowa. They were pursuaded to stay there and try and make more money before going on to Utah. They settled on the river bottoms where they suffered with chills and fever. Sorrow came and they must part with their Mother. She who had struggled through adversity to care for them in her widowhood and clear from them the heavy indebtedness that had come from financial troubles earlier. Before leaving Scotland they were advised to go as far as their money would take them and they felt some regrets that they had stopped at Council Bluffs.. If they had only gone on their Mother might have been spared to them for many years. She was buried on the hillside with nothing to mark her resting place. All trace of her grave has been lost.
In the spring of 1851 Grandpa (William) became acquainted with Eliza Woodyatt Thomas (Charles Thomas was her step father) a girl of twenty years, who with her father emigrated from England in 1842 with the second shipload of saints who crossed the Atlantic. They were married July 3, 1851, this being William's twenty seventh birthday. After arriving in Salt Lake they went to the Endowment House and had their ordinances performed.
Their journey across the plains was a pleasant one to them. They had a wagon fitted up for repair work with suitable tools and smithy. They owned one wagon, one yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows. The cows gave them milk on the way, and a lump of butter would be churned by supper time by hanging under the wagon. Grandmother drove most of the way because Grandpa was Captain of nine other wagons and the care of the families which required much of his time. The company consisted of five hundred souls. They arrived in Salt Lake City September 20, 1852, and on October 6, their first son was born to them, John William, at the home of William Carter.
In the spring of 1853, in company with others they moved to Spanish Fork, known as Palmyra, where they built a dugout on their city lot. The Indians became hostile and troublesome and a fort was built. The houses all joined except where a Spanish Wall was built. It covered about ten acres, all doors and windows were on the inside. Two strong gates were built to allow going in and out. Grandfathers house was in the North line in the center. He called the roll every morning and evening during the entire two years they were in the fort. Two girls, Emma and Jane were born to them while at the fort.
Grandfather's experiences with the Indians were many. At the time of the Gibbons Massacre in Spanish Fork Canyon he with his brother and others were sledding timber in Garfield Canyon at the mouth of the Spanish Fork Canyon. His brother James came home for supplies, but he was sent back immediately to warn the others to return. On their return, they found bits of red blankets that had been torn and scattered on the way as a warning from the Indians. This was the beginning of the Blackfoot War. The people in the scattered districts suffered most. At the close of the war, Grandfather, with others, traveled to Fish Lake in Eastern Utah to make and sign a treaty, on which mission they were successful. While on this journey they traveled up a narrow valley. At the top they saw a grizzly bear, so they named it Bear Valley. They also named Grass Valley because of the luxurious grass there and gave Robert Valley its name. They carried with them many articles which were pleasing to the Indians, which aided them in their work of friendship with the different tribes, and had the priviledge of meeting them.
William was called to Echo Canyon at the time Johnson's Army was moving into Utah. On arriving at Salt Lake, his supplies were taken - even to his coat. He was ordered to return home again and assist in the affairs arising there. He was a member of the Volunteer Militia acting as Adjutant General and later ranked a Major. His daughter Emma has a silk sash he wore at that time.
William was a very good Penman and most of his church activities were in record keeping. He acted as Ward Clerk and also kept the records of the Seventies Quorum and the Prayer Circle.. He was the Sunday School Superintendent, School Trustee and City Clerk and Treasurer, for which he received little or no pay. When the Co-op store was organized, he was called by Bishop Thurber to be the clerk and assisted in the management, where he remained until he was too old to work.
The products of the country were used as legal tender in paying school tuition, taxes, tithing etc. After while mercantile was introduced as a business medium and some of the bulky products were disposed of that way, which lightened the keeping of accounts both civil and ecclesiastic.
Grandfather started on a mission to Scotland the day his daughter Eliza was born, and he was gone two years. Soon after his return, Grandmother died. Years later he married Ann Furgeson, an old acquaintance in Scotland.
The faith of our grandparents was instilled in the hearts of their children. William's whole life was spent in usefulness until he was 76 years old. When returning from his labor he fell and sustained injuries from which he suffered until his death in 1902.
Heber Thomas Robertson
Contributor: rossallred Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Heber Thomas Robertson
History found in the Treasures of Truth book of Elsie Robertson Warner.
Heber Thomas Robertson, son of William Robertson and Eliza Woodyett, was born June 25, 1857, in a dug-out which was located on the site of the Federal Building at the corner of Main and Second North streets in Spanish Fork. The dug-out, so called because it was simply dug out of the ground, and roofed over with poles, covered with a thatch of cane and some dirt, was of only one room, approximately 10 X 12 feet. In this one room the family, consisting of the father, mother, and four children, Emma, Jane, John W., and Heber T., lived. The cooking was done in an open fireplace at one end of the room, and the beds were made on the floor. The family had formerly lived at Palmyra, but when that place was abandoned as the site of the city, they moved to Spanish Fork. As soon as the father was able to, he built a two room house on the site of the dug-out. This was shortly after Heber was born.
Heber’s schooling was meager, and was taught mainly by lady teachers, of whom he remembers Grandmother Butler, Mrs. Pratt, and some others. Silas H. Hillman was the principal teacher of that day. He was a strict disciplinarian and often resorted to corporal punishment. Young Heber had a pair of buckskin suspenders, which Hillman would often borrow to use as a rope with which to hang some recalcitrant student up on pegs driven into the wall as a method of punishment. Later, in his educational experience, a number of young men of Spanish Fork decided to organize an institution of higher learning, and called it the Young Men’s Academy. Into the worthy venture Heber T. Robertson was easily drawn, and he, with about twenty others, took a “share”. The young men built a log school house, and equipped it with what paraphernalia was thought necessary. When the time came for schooling, however, Heber was disappointed, as he was detailed by his father to take care of his Uncle James Robertson’s chores, and John W., his older brother, was permitted to enjoy the schooling in his place.
At the age of fifteen years he spent one winter hauling tithing to Salt Lake City with a four mule team, which were driven with one jerk line. It took five days to make one round trip with this outfit. The wagon would usually be loaded on the return trip with goods of various kinds for the Spanish Fork stores.
On December 18, 1879, he was married to Rosetta Caroline Jex, daughter of another pioneer family, at the Salt Lake Endowment House. To this couple were born twelve children, five sons and seven daughters. Three of the older children died when they were small children: Heber William, the eldest of the family when he was one year of age, and Emma Jane and John Thomas during an epidemic of diphtheria in 1891. All the others grew to manhood and womanhood. The other members of the family were Rosetta Eliza Beckstrom, Leo Lawrence Robertson, Elsie J. Robertson Warner, Katie Ann Milner, Iva C. Markham, Wells Jex Robertson, Lyle E. Williams, Lu Preal Robertson, and Joseph Smith Robertson.
All his life, Mr. Robertson has followed the occupation of farming. In the early days as a boy he worked on his father’s farm, where the principal crops were wheat, corn, oats, and barley. Wild hay was cut for feed for the animals, and it was not for some years after farming operations were commenced in Spanish Fork that alfalfa was introduced as a forage crop. Heber remembers the first alfalfa hay field of any considerable size that was planted by Dolfus Babcock.
For about one year after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Robertson lived in the home of his father, after which they moved to the farm of Sylvester Bradford, just south of town, to run the farm while Mr. Bradford was away on a mission. A little later the family moved in with Mrs. Robertson’s sister, Mrs. Emma McKell, and her husband, Robert W. McKell. During the time they were living here, Mr. Robertson spent the winter getting out spiles, and also got out logs and had them sawed in Mill Fork. With these he built a log house on the East Bench. After living a year in a house in the Third ward, where Charles W. Booth now lives, he bought a farm from William Ferguson on Lake Shore and moved there.
The Robertsons bought a lot on the East Bench on which had been built the shell of a brick house. The purchase price was $700. After completing the house, they lived in it for sixteen years, until the summer of 1905, when they purchased a home at the corner of Ninth North and Main Street, where they lived for thirteen years. In 1918 they spent the summer on a fruit farm on Provo Bench, owned by Heber C. Jex. In the fall of that year, which was made notable by the scourge of Spanish Influenza which swept over the country, and also by the end of the great World War, they moved back to Spanish Fork and lived that winter in the home of Mrs. Robertson’s parents, both of whom were still living.
In the spring of 1919, they purchased the Jex Cottage, adjoining the home of Grandpa and Grandma Jex on the South, and here, they settled down to spend the remainder of their days.
Mr. Robertson was called on a mission to California in the fall of 1908, his second mission, having spent two years in the service of the Lord in the North-Eastern States from April, 1896, to June, 1898. When he was called on his first mission, his wife was left to make a living for herself and six children, which she managed to do, and also sent $25.00 per month to her missionary husband. When he returned from his mission, he was entirely free of debt.
“The most striking testimony I had of the divinity of the work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” says Mr. Robertson, “was in the healing of a son of a family who were not of our faith. The boy, about fifteen years of age, had been ill for a long time, and had gradually become worse. We had been visiting the family as missionaries on several occasions, and following one of our visits, they called in a doctor, who told them that the boy was beyond all human aid. The family wrote us a letter in which they asked us to come back and administer to the lad, if we considered it the will of the Lord that we do so. My companion, John Barlow, and I prayed to the Lord, and feeling that it was in accordance with our Father’s will, we returned to the home, to find the young patient apparently dying. Upon entering the home, we found a number of people present. I felt that there was too much prejudice there for the Spirit of the Lord to be made manifest, but we administered to the boy, with no apparent effect. I then went into the woods to pray, and the inspiration came to me that we must have the people who were bitter against us removed from the room. Elder Barlow and I decided that we would wait until all the people left of their own accord, without asking for the place to be cleared. It was not until about midnight that we were alone with the lad, and then we administered to him. By morning the boy was much improved and from that time on he continued to mend, very much to the surprise of the entire community.”
“A striking incident of my mission was in relation to a controversy I had with a man called Pip Hill, who had told about the place that he intended to knock us down if we put Joseph Smith ahead of Jesus Christ. He accosted me following a baptismal service, saying, ‘I understand that you put Joe Smith ahead of the Savior.’ I told him we placed Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God, along with such men as Peter, James and John. He became very abusive, and I was taken away by a friend with whom we were staying. Later on we baptized Pip Hill’s wife.”
“The greatest trial of my missionary experience came to me when I was made conference president, and went to conference at Rockville, Maryland. Because of moving about frequently, I had been unable to get any mail for about six weeks. When we arrived in Rockville, the first thing I did was to go the post office. The only mail I received was a brief note from George H. Jex, my brother-in-law, who informed me that my oldest son, Leo, was lying at the point of death. We had prayers, and my mind was consoled and a feeling that all would be well at home came over me. This proved to be true.”
Mr. Robertson returned from his eastern mission in June, 1898, visiting Washington D.C. and New York City on his way home. “It seemed after I returned home, that everything turned to my advantage. Shortly after my return, I bought my father’s farm of 6 ½ acres in Palmyra, for which I paid $500. A little later I bought nineteen acres near the D. & R. G. depot at $85 per acre. This was about the lowest price that land of this quality ever reached and I was very fortunate to be able to secure such fine ground at such a reasonable price.”
After six months labor as a missionary in California, he was forced to return home on account of ill health, reaching Spanish Fork in May, 1909.
Mr. Robertson was always a hard worker. Until after he was seventy years of age he operated his own farm, with the help of his boys. After that, he sold part of his ground and rented the rest.
His greatest satisfaction in life has been his abiding faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His religion has been the moving spirit of all his labors. Whenever church duty called, he was ready to drop whatever other labor was at his hand and attend to the work of the Lord.
History found in the Treasures of Truth book of Elsie Robertson Warner.