Contributor: Todd Millett Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Jane Walton just completed her momentous, also very hazardous journey from Woodruff to Bluff, back in the pioneer days, when she had her vision. Alone one night with her three sleeping children, she suddenly heard a noise as if someone were entering the house. On looking up, she beheld her grandfather, long dead. “I have come for you, my dear,” murmured he. “Oh no, grandfather, not now,” hurriedly exclaimed Jane. “The children are so young, and need a mother’s care.” The grandfather hesitated a moment, and then answered, “Very well, have it as your wish now, but I shall return for you when you are forty-five.” We shall see how this vision was fulfilled.
Psychic phenomena are common among the Mormon people, although it is very rare for them to speak of it. Such phenomena with everyone often results from great fatigue or over wrought nerves. Jane had both. In fact as the result of the journey just made, she had almost reached the breaking point.
Her family had been asked by the Church authorities to move from Woodruff, where she had made her first home after marriage, and move to Bluff, Utah.
For several years the Indians at Bluff had been making raids on the white settlements, stealing horses and causing considerable trouble. It was the hope of making peace and friendship with these Indians that the LDS church decided on this new settlement.
The Walton family lived in Woodruff a small town on the northern border of Utah and Wyoming. Jane and Charles E. Walton Sr. had three children were given instructions to travel along the southern boundary, arriving near the eastern line of the state, and there build their homes anew. Great preparations had been made by the family to travel by wagon and ox teams. The first six weeks were occupied in journeying from Woodruff to Forty-Mile Spring on the Escalante Desert, where they were to find the main company of more than eighty wagons and people encamped. Jane’s young son Charles, age eleven, rode on horseback, driving the livestock, which consisted of a yoke of wild bulls, a yoke of wild steers, five horses and a colt, and eleven head of cattle.
From Forty-mile Spring, a scouting party had been sent ahead to find the best route to take. They returned on December 2, 1879, with a bleak report, one of the men said with discouragement, “A bird couldn’t fly over the route, to say nothing of getting wagons through.”
Deeply discouraged a council was held and their leader Jim Neilson, after much prayer, promised the party if they would only continue their journey, a road would be built and crops raised the next season. It was mid-winter at that time.
In Charles E. Walton Sr. diary it says that the wagons began pouring out of Forty-Mile Spring toward the Hole-in-the-Rock itself some seventeen miles away. They left Forty-Mile Springs, and after weeks of hard travel, battling storms, cold and hot winds, mud and dust, they reached the great Colorado River, or rather reached the edge of the plateau above the river chasm. On the Slick rocks at the top of the chasm the people danced to the fiddles of Samuel Cox and Charles E. Walton Sr. They sang their inspired songs and discussed the new country they would soon be colonizing. They spent the “coldest Friday in history” at the Hole, according to Mary Jane Wilson, one of the youngsters there. There, on the windy desert near the edge of the canyon wall, these weary pioneers camped six weeks with only the shelter of tents and wagon covers to protect them. They gathered the desert brush to keep their campfires burning. Water was scarce as evidenced by the notation in the journal of Kuman Jones: “We rejoiced when the early wet snow fell. As it melted it filled the holes in the rocks and furnished culinary water for at least a day.” On December 13, the traveling organization was organized and Charles E. Walton Sr. was called as Clerk.
Hole in the Rock consisted of a formation of cliffs, pierced by a very narrow crack, far too narrow to accommodate a horse. The cliff then dropped forty feet to a slanting shelf-like formation from which there was a steep descent to the canyon below. Somehow a road had to be made through that place. To accomplish the task it was necessary to blast the rock, widen the small crack, and filling in the crevices to make a passable road to the shelf below. This took six weeks and everyone was involved in the task, even eleven year old Charles Jr. It was his assignment to be lowered over the cliffs with a rope around his waist to place blasting powder in the crevices, thus preparing for the explosion. Some nights they danced in the moonlight, with happier hearts than they had had for a long time. Charles and a few others in the company turned their violins and played. The next morning at sunrise the camp was bustling with preparations for the crossing of the Colorado. In their hazardous zigzag down the steep incline, nine horses were lost but the feat was accomplished without the loss of one human life.
In January of 1880, the wagons were lowered over the cliffs with a ropes tied to the rear of each wagon, and then six to seven men pulled back with all their strength to keep from gaining too much speed in going down the incline. Once they were down at the edge of the Colorado River they ferried the wagons across. The cattle were first forced to swim, and then the wagons and people were taken across on a raft constructed at the moment for that purpose.
In January, 1880 they crossed the Colorado River. About 15 miles further they camped again. They were in slick rock country, which a scouting party had earlier found to be the worst impediment of the trip. Once more the pioneers were in deep despair, quite ready to give up. A mountain goat trying to elude capture by one of the men led the men straight down a trail on which a road could be built. Thus to company slowly traveled, built the necessary roads finally reached their destination.
They arrived at their destination on April 6, 1880 at a place they called Bluff. The journey had taken six months, and although made in winter, no lives were lost. After all these difficulties had met and conquered, Jane was over-wrought. She prayed that this might be the last move they were asked to make.
Charles Eugene wrote in his diary: “We raised the crop that year that Bishop Nielson promised we would raise.” The next project was building the fort in which they lived during 1880 and 1881. In the book, Saga of San Juan, It says on December 13, 1880, Charles E. Walton, Sr. was appointed the first postmaster of Bluff. On May 31, 1881, the post office was discontinued and mail was sent to McElmo. (Pg 63)
In 1880 less than three weeks after they had settled there, the governor and legislature of Utah Territory designated Bluff as the seat of San Juan County, and a selectman, superintendent of schools, and other officers were chose. Charles Eugene Walton was appointed as county clerk, and he was also sustained as stake clerk when the first LDS organization was effected. He was one of the directors (vice president) in the San Juan Co-operative Company organized in 1882, which paid an annual dividend of forty percent and continued in business until January of 1920. (Andrew Jensen, Church Historian) It was indicated in “Saga or San Juan that C.E. Walton, Sr. hauled freight from the Blue Mountain, it talks about freighting over the roads from Colorado and camping with other freighters at Fiddler’s Grove. He taught school for several years presented many home dramatic plays, and played the violin for numerous dances and parties. C.E. Walton, Sr. records in his diary that he “directed plays, built the scenery, helped gather costumes and cleaned the hall before many of the plays were produced.
The people suffered many hardships and severe losses to property due to the overflow of the San Juan River. Because of this the people decided to break up the mission and move to a more favorable location. The President of the Church sent Joseph F. Smith of the Council of the Twelve to Bluff to investigate the situation. President Smith came to the conclusion that the people should remain in Bluff and hold the mission intact.
Nevertheless, those who wished to move away were released with the blessing of The First Presidency, but he promised that those who would remain would be doubly blessed. A few left, but Charles E. Walton elected to cast his lot with the majority who accepted their leader’s decision. Joseph F. Smith, personally, had asked him to stay. In his diary he wrote: “I told him I would, and I have never regretted it for the Lord has prospered us as Brother Joseph F. said He would.”
An entry in his diary seven years later, March 9, 1887, concerned “a settlement in North Montezuma.” At that time he, with a few other men and families were called by Church leaders to open up that part of the country for settlement. In Utah Since Statehood, vol 4, is an article on Charles Eugene and this son Charles Eugene Walton Jr. One paragraph reads, in part, “In 1888, Mr. Walton moved to Monticello, having laid out the town site secured the previous year. The journey had taken six months instead of the six weeks that they figured it would take. It is no small wonder that after all the difficulties of this trip that Jane could be considered over-wrought.
Of this expedition, Levi Edgar Young in “The Founding of Utah”, p. 236 said, “It is probable that no colonizers of the West ever had greater difficulties in building roads than had the pioneers of San Juan.”
Jane’s whole life had been one of great changes. First as a tiny child living in Scotland, her mother was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by missionaries. Her mother was determined to journey to the United States and join the Mormon’s in Utah. They landed at St. Louis, and joined a small company and headed for Utah.
Little Jane, though barely six years old, trudged at her mother’s side the entire distance, since the wagons were full of household goods and provisions. There were on the Thomas C.D. Howell Company that arrived in Salt Lake in September 1852. On this journey of some months, filled with hardships and privation, she had her first lessons in courage and endurance, which fitted her for the life to follow. Again on reaching Salt Lake, there were many new and difficult experiences, which further gave Jane experience and rounded out her character.
Jane and Charles married on February 22, 1867. After their marriage, they were asked to settle Woodruff, and then later to make the exhausting journey to Bluff. They were obedient to callings they received from the Church. Upon her marriage to around twenty, the new family were sent firs to Woodruff, Utah to settle, and then later to make the exhausting journey to Bluff Utah. In every move they were obedient to the churches orders.
Jane Walton became the first Stake President of the Relief Society. Her work carried her all over the area, which included Moab, Mancos, and part of New Mexico in buggy or wagon, in heat or cold. In 1888 the family moved to Monticello.
They were settled had built a good home in Bluff when again in about 1887 came the calling from Church authorities for Jane’s son Charles Jr. to join with about a dozen families and make an entirely new settlement in the Blue Mountain region, now know as Monticello. Since Charles Jr. was under twenty that mean that Jane and Charles Sr. would go with him. Jane was at this time around 40 years old.
The difficulties of the new settlement were many. Because of the scant rainfall, dry farming would have to be practiced. The altitude of over 7000 feet caused early frosts. Water for household use was difficult to obtain. In winter it was furnished by melting snow; in summer, it must would have to be hauled from a spring in the mountains, over two miles away. Likewise there were Indians, but since Brigham Young had taught his people it was cheaper to feed the Indians than to fight them, the new settlers hoped to overcome hostility by kindness and food. Furthermore another danger loomed as the greatest of all. Through the country were enormous cattle ranches, on which many of the cowboys were fugitives from justice, and were both wild and brutal in their ways. These cowboys resented any town settlement, as they desired to hold the entire valley for grazing land. They would come into the settlement often firing their revolvers at the feet of the new arrivals to make them dance, shooting at the bell at the schoolhouse, with school in session, venturing always as near murder as they dared. Probably the recent war time idea of blackout had its origin in this new settlement, since the cowboys drunkenly roamed the streets at night shooting our all visible lights in the homes.
As was usual in all pioneer life, there were no doctors, nurses or hospitals, nor did the newcomers want any. If someone broke a bone, one of their own, Edward Hyde by name, though untrained, set it as best he could. If someone fell ill the church elders were called to anoint them with oil and lay hands and offer prayer. There was one thing the community did, that was they sent to Salt Lake for a woman to come to the community and train one of their own as a mid-wife. In many accounts of the early Utah settlers was that many human ailments and many dire situation were cured by prayer. This is what was next for Jane Walton and her family as they started life in Monticello.
To overcome scant rainfall, the men settlers came on ahead in the fall months to build irrigation ditches from the mountain to the farming land, living in tents during this process. In the spring, when the snow melted on the mountains, water would flow into these ditches, giving moisture to their crops. Once these ditches were completed, land ploughed, the men returned to Bluff for the winter months. In early spring that next year they brought their families, erecting log cabins, and planting crops. All, men and w omen alike, toiled to make these crops plentiful.
In Utah Since Statehood, vol 4, is an article on Charles Eugene and this son Charles Eugene Walton Jr. One paragraph reads, in part, “In 1888, Mr. Walton moved to Monticello, having laid out the town site secured the previous year.”
Time passed, and summer came. As Jane was hoeing beans one day, she was startled to find a young Indian, Posey, standing near. Posey wasn’t known to have a good reputation, and Jane was alone. “Me hungry”, Posey said. “Well,” parried Jane, “if you will wait until I finished hoeing this row of beans, I will go into the house and get you some food. “Me hungry now!” reiterated Posey sharply. Well,” again argued Jane, “if you will finish hoeing this row, I will go at once.” “Me no hoe me hungry now,” bellowed Posey savagely, and pointing his gun at Jane, he swore a volley of terrible oaths.
The profanity and insolence thoroughly angered Jane, who without a thought of consequences, raised her hoe and hit Posey over the head. He dropped to the ground unconscious. Here was a dilemma. Jane wondered if Posey was dead, but anxious though she was, she kept on with her work. From the corner of her eye, just as she finished the row, she saw Posey slowly rising. Her heart leaped to her mouth, dreading what he might do now. Just then hoof beats sounded, and Jane realized Charles was returning home along with their dog. Posey became aware of the sounds too, and realized his game was up. Grasping his gun, with a blood-curdling whoop, he hurriedly tried to reach his horse, but could not move quit fast enough. The dog became very much interested in the seat of Posey’s pants, and was successful in obtaining the seat, with another yell, Posey mounted his horse and raced away.
After questioning his mother, Charles became gravely concerned, while all the settlers were thrown into consternation, as they feared and Indian attack might be coming. Days passed, however, and gradually their fears were forgotten. Months later, Posey again came asking for food, and as he slid through the doorway, “Me no mad,” he averred, which caused Jane and likewise the village to be easy in their minds as far as Indians were concerned. Indeed a deep and lasting friendship sprang into being between the Walton family and the Indians. What a pity that relations with the cowboys could not be as easily and amicably adjusted, avoiding serious tragedy.
Jane had a joyous disposition and loved dancing. A letter written by her to “Dear Sarah” told of good times at a bow dance and picnic, a cap dance and picnic, an oyster supper and a dance when a glittering Christmas tree was the focal point of the festivities. The picnic was always a favorite on such occasions.
July 24 to the early settlers of Utah became an important “Mormon Holiday” no matter where you were you celebrated that day. On July 24, 1891, Monticello was holding their festivities. First there was a parade, they sports for the children and at night the “hard-time” dance to which the entire countryside came, and the cowboys invited themselves to the event. Since money was practically unknown, tickets were purchased with vegetables, which were carefully stacked and later given to those in need.
Charles Sr. played this violin; Charley Jr. played the old parlor organ. Bishop Frederick I Jones added to the music with his harmonica and John Rogerson called the dances. The strains of Twin Sisters had died away, and it had been announced that Money Musk would be the next dance.
Sometime between 12 and 1 a.m., Tom Roach, a notorious outlaw, accompanied by his closest friend came galloping through town. Tom was very drunk; his friend endeavored to persuade him not to enter the dance hall. With an oath, Tom turned, shot and killed his friend, and kicking him where he fell, reeled into the room, demanding dances of every pretty girl. The following is from Charles E. Walton Sr. journal.
“Between 12 and 1 O’clock Tom Roach started a row, killed a cow boy and Jane was accidently shot and killed by Frank Adams, a drunk Mormon boy with my own gun 45 –70 caliber.
‘The ball passed clean through her body just under the arms, killing her instantly.”
Jane had passed her forty-fifth birthday, precisely eight days before.
Tom Roach rushed out, mounted his horse and galloped away. A posse of men when out to find him. To show their love of the Walton family, the Indians made another posse, which Posey joined, vowing eternal vengeance on Roach. The outlaw, Tom Roach, however was never found. Jane was gone, but to her descendents she bequeathed many noble qualities, among them kindness to all in need, an intrepid spirit with which to face the trials of life, and unswerving obedience to church authorities.
Through the town streets, in the original irrigation ditches, the water from the mountains still flows like a brook, murmuring the stories of the by-gone years. Crops are raised and cattle graze, as in the early days, and the people are obedient to church authority. Probably no group of pioneers went through so many years of hardship and suffering, as did those early settlers.
Hostility has been long in dying, but those who truly know these people cannot but admire them for their industry, thrift, and self-reliance, by which they exemplify the virtues of what should and once did typify the American way.
Relief Society Service
Contributor: Todd Millett Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Jane McKechnie Walton
JULY 16, 1846–JULY 24, 1891
1 Born at Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland; daughter of Jane Bee and John McKechnie. 2 Immigrated to the United States aboard the North Atlantic, 1850. 3 Migrated to the Salt Lake Valley, 1852. 4 Married Charles Eugene Walton; three children. 5 Lived at Bluff, San Juan County, Utah Territory; appointed president of the Bluff Ward Relief Society, circa 1880; served as president of the San Juan Stake Relief Society, 1883–1891. 6 Died at Monticello, San Juan County. 7 (See Document 4.21)
 “Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564–1950,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com, accessed Jan. 2015), Jane Mckechnie; citing Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564–1950, Salt Lake City, UT. “Utah Cemeteries and Burials,” database, Utah Division of State History (http://heritage.utah.gov/history/cemeteries, accessed Jan. 2015), Jane M. Walton.
 “Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564–1950,” database, Jane Mckechnie. “Family Tree,” database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org, accessed Jan. 2015), Jane McKechnie KWJJ-LY9 .
 “Mormon Migration,” database, 1840–1932, Mormon Migration (http://mormonmigration.lib.byu.edu, accessed Jan. 2015), Jane Mckechnie; extracted from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon Immigration Index CD (2000).
 “Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel,” database, 1847–1868, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel (http://history.lds.org/overlandtravels, accessed Jan. 2015), Jane McKechnie.
 “Family Tree,” database, Jane McKechnie and Charles Eugene Walton KWJJ-LY3 .
 “Death of Jane M. Walton,” Woman’s Exponent 20, no. 4 (Aug. 15, 1891): 32. San Juan Stake manuscript history and historical reports, 1883–1938, San Juan Stake, CHL. “Organization of the San Juan Stake Relief Society,” San Juan Stake Relief Society, minutes, p. 1, Relief Society minutes and records, 1885–1973, San Juan Stake, CHL.
 “Utah Cemeteries and Burials,” database, Jane M. Walton. “Death of Jane M. Walton,” 32.