Alexander Alma Allen autobiography
Contributor: Jeanette_Allan Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
A sketch of the life of Alexander Alma Allen
Written by his own hand.
Born in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, September 28, 1845, the son Ezra Heeley Allen and Sarah Beriah Fisk. My parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early days in the State of New York, moving on to Ohio and then to Nauvoo, Illinois. They suffered prosecutions which were brought upon the church because of their belief in the living God and the restoration of the church. Father built a little house in Iowa for mother and her two children. Two children died in infantry, their names were Jerusha Elvira Allen and Alexander Hamilton Allen. Father then join the Mormon Battalion to march away, never to live with his family gain. He was killed by the Indians in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. (The account of this history is given in the October issue on the Improvement Era 1966, under the heading "Two Pouches and a Ring of Gold" by J. L. Larson.) Sometime later, a man came to mother's place in Ohio and gave her two pouches of gold and said, "This is what your husband panned in California. We found them when we found the bodies of three soldiers at Tragedy Springs, California." Mother used the gold to fit out an outfit to go across the Plains to Utah. She kept some out and made two wide rings which she wore in her life. She took a young man and his wife in the wagon with them and in company of emigrants started for Utah. After arriving in Utah she taught school in Salt Lake for while and then moved to Chesterville where she married a Joel Ricks. Later we moved to Farmington, Davis County, Utah where my stepfather set up a tannery. I witnessed the cricket war of 1854 and help guard of the Indians. We moved to Nephi, Utah, when the Johnston's army came to Utah. On their way home we met some sarcastic soldiers. We moved to Cache Valley, Logan, Utah in the spring of 1859; I was 14 years old. There were a number of camps on the north of the river and one house was being built. We located our plot and after getting settled I went with my stepfather to Logan Canyon where he started a saw mill. There learning something about saw mills.
I joined an organization of young men for military duties to guard against the Indians. We started a band and I was the fifer. A Ward was organized in Logan. William B. Preston was made Bishop. My sister Emoretta was married to Louis Ricks that winner, 25 December 1859. My stepfather drove me out of his and mother home that winter. I couldn't find work so I had to go and live with my sister and her husband that winter, till I was able to find some work. I went to Bear Lake, Idaho with my sister and her husband, Louis Ricks. We worked lots of places on the road through Emigration Canyon. There was only a trail through the canyon made by the Indians. We went to the canyon and got out a home and put up wild hay for the animals. That winter it was so cold of that we were able to cross parts of the lake on the ice with loads of hay for the animals.
In 1869 Apostle C. C. Rich wanted me to go with him to find a way through Logan Canyon. We went on horseback and had a hard trip. I carried mail back and forth between Cash Valley and Bear Lake Valley for while. Onetime I was driving some cattle to Bear Lake and Indian chief and his Braves came riding up and said, "I fight you for them cows." I was a husky young fellow 6 feet 4 inches. We locked in tight grip; I stuck my thumb in the middle of this back and squeezed for dear life. Soon he gave up and went down. I let him up, he jumped on his horse and they all rode away. I was tempted to go and get work in the mines, but my mother begged me not to go. On December 27, 1864, I was called with five other boys to go to the Salt Lake and receive our endowments. I was keeping company with a young lady by the name of Maria Cowley. We went to Salt Lake in were married on 5 April, 1869, by D. H. Wells. We lived with her folks, Charles Cowley, until I got out a log home for us in Logan. While logging, my team ran away with me. I got hurt and it bothered me the rest of my life. I worked for Brother Card, where I learned to be a sawyer. Then my brother in law, John Cowley, and I ran a saw mill a number of years. We sawed the lumber for the Logan Tabernacle. Then I was called to run the saw at the Logan Temple Saw Mill in Logan Canyon. In the winter of 22 February, 1867, I was called to be the Bishop of Weston, Idaho Ward. In company with Brigham Young, Jr. and W. B. Preston we went out to Weston and got acquainted with the situation there. Later I sold out in Logan in went to Weston to live. My daughter Amorette was born and we had a hard time saving her mother. I soon found difficulties in Weston. There were a number people that claimed prior rights to the stream on Western Creek, and we had never-ending trouble, trying to get a little water past them for culinary purposes in the Weston Village. I was the first bishop of Weston Ward. There had been presiding Elders in charge before. In the year 1876 we build a new meeting house, costing $800.00. The people were united and we paid for it that year. In 1877 we had it dedicated by Bishop William Maughan of Wellsville. I was given authority of being the constable. In the year 1877 the United Order was organized, with Alexander Alma Allen as President. The people came forth and for baptized to according to the Order. We organize the Coop store which helped our settlement. I competed in organizing the Relief Society and Mutual and two branches, one at Trenton and one at Dayton which I had charge of, serving up till now, without counselors. June 12, 1877, I was given Nels Georgesen and Peter Mickleson as counselors. Attending the meeting was President George Q. Cannon. Lorenzo Snow and Erastus Snow.
I married Miss Elizabeth Clarke as second wife April 11, 1878. Born to us were four boys and four girls. My first wife Maria and I had two boys and six girls. My wife Maria was called to be the President of the Young Ladies Mutual in 1882 and served many years. In 1878 the work commenced on the Logan Temple. I was called to supervise the building of the roads to the site, and later was called to saw the lumber at the Temple saw mill. The Temple was dedicated on May 17, 1884. The people of Weston donated to it very liberally. In the midst of polygamy trouble, I was called to go on a mission to the Southern States, leaving 4 May 1885, laboring in Virginia and South Carolina. I took rheumatism and was released after one year of service. I was released as the Bishop of the Weston Ward and John S. Clarke was appointed in my place. I went to work for Hodge and Nibley in the saw mill in Logan Canyon and also in the Hams Fork Canyon, Wyoming. In the spring of 1891 my mother died. My brother in law and I went by horseback from Bear Lake to Logan to the funeral, but when we got there we were warned that Federal Men were waiting for us, so we turned and went back to Bear Lake.
That year Hodge and Nibley owed me a thousand dollars for labor at a saw mill, which they beat me out. January twenty-third 1893, I was ordain and member of the Oneida Stake High Council by Apostle Merrill. July 10, 1900 my wife and I received our second anointings. In 1903 we sold our home in Weston and moved to Logan, where I suffered with diabetes.
He passed away his role in the Third Ward of Logan, 31 July, 1916, buried in the Logan city cemetery. The following was added by a grandson John LaVon Larsen, Preston, Idaho: in Hams Fork, Wyoming, where grandfather ran a saw mill for Hodge and Nibley, a fire got started one day while they were eating their dinner. They fought hard to save it, but it all went, including grandfather's wagon, a set of harnesses, all the lumber he had sawed for shingles, and it warped the saw so that it would not run. That left him to start out in the saw mill business again. Onetime grandfather had a 60-acre patch of wheat and all ripe and ready for harvest. The Union Pacific Railroad ran by on one side and a sparks from the train engine started it on fire. The neighbors called turned out to help him save it, but it all burned to the ground. I was a young fellow; our family went to see him the next day and he was lying in bed singing this song, "Dark sorrows may come with many a sting, stern trials in life my portion shall be, Oh Father in Heaven this song will I sing, the rock of my refuge is Thee. "
Grandfather's second wife aunt Lizzy (Elizabeth) got a divorce (civil) because the Federal Law Officers made it so miserable for them and he moved the family to Logan, Utah. His second oldest son, Ethan, build a house for her. Ethan became a contractor and builder. Oliver, his oldest son, was in business for himself. His third son, Royal, was killed in a rock crusher and in his fourth son William Oran, was killed in World War One, when a big shell exploded by him. The girls were all married and lived at Logan Utah. Their names were Ellen, Elizabeth-Nettie, Ivana and Luella Emily. Grandmother Maria Eleanor Cowley Allen lived with us rest all the time I was going to high school. She was the sweetest woman in the world. If grandfather held his arm out straight, she could walk under it and just touch the top of her head. About the two rings which great grandmother Sarah B. Fisk had made from the gold panned by her husband in California. At her death she gave one to the granddaughter Ester Ricks Lindford, living at St. Charles; the other she gave to her oldest granddaughter on the Allen side, Eva Allen Brown, living at Lanark, Bear Lake. Aunt Eva Brown lost her's in a spring near her home in Lanark and was never able to find it. I have never found out who got the ring Ester Lindford had after she passed away. (This story was told to as many times by grandfather's.)
THE POUCH AND CIRCLE OF GOLD BY NORMA BALDWIN RICKETTS
Contributor: Jeanette_Allan Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
THE POUCH AND CIRCLE OF GOLD
BY NORMA BALDWIN RICKETTS
(story is in the Improvement Era from Oct. 1966)
The strange but true story of how a massacred Mormon Battalion
soldier's gold reached his family --and paid their way to Zion.
When Sarah Fisk and Ezra H. Allen were married
in Potsdam, New York, on Christmas Day, 1837, they
looked forward to a happy life together, with all
the high hopes and dreams peculiar to young couples
in love. She was a descendant of an early Massa-
chusetts family, and he was "an ambitious young
man of good character."
Their years together were few— yet during the brief
eight and a half years shared by Sarah and Ezra there
were enough events to fill a lifetime. Little did
either of them realize at the beginning that their
story would be such a dramatic one, reaching from
one side of America to the other and then circling
back again. It is fitting that a ring— a circle of gold-
is left as the symbol of their story.
The Aliens, married four years, had been blessed
with two lovely daughters when Mormon elders-
Christopher M. Merkley and and Murray Simmonds—
arrived in Potsdam in 1841. They began holding
meetings, and before long Ezra and two of his
brothers were baptized. By the summer of 1842 the
Allen brothers were ready to leave for Nauvoo. They
arrived there early in the winter of 1842 and settled
25 miles up the Mississippi in a beautiful location,
where wild flowers greeted Sarah at every step.
In April 1843 they traveled to Nauvoo for general
conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-
day Saints, held inside the walls of the incompleted
temple. They were thrilled to hear the Prophet
Joseph Smith, and a short time later Sarah, too, was
baptized into the Mormon Church. She wrote of the
meetings held in their branch and of the rich out-
pouring of the Spirit of the Lord that attended them,
causing their hearts to rejoice.
This was probably their last period of peace and
happiness, because the persecution of church mem-
bers by outsiders began to reach them. In June
1844, when the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum
were murdered by a mob at Carthage, Illinois, the
Aliens shed bitter tears along with many others.
But their faith was in God, and they were counseled
by members of the Twelve Apostles to remain calm
and to complete the temple. The sacrifices of the
Saints at this time were great because of loss of
property and sickness.
On the 2nd of September 1845, Alexander Alma
Allen, their second son, was born. During the winter
of 1845-46 the Aliens worked, with many others,
on the Nauvoo Temple and were able to receive
their ordinances in the temple before leaving.
As the preparations were completed for the west-
ward trek, Ezra Allen and Joel Ricks traveled to St.
Louis to bring additional stock to Nauvoo for the
journey. They finally crossed the Mississippi River
on April 27, 1846. Heavy rains made traveling diffi-
cult and slow, but they continued on until they
reached Council Bluffs, Iowa. Sarah Allen wrote of
the evening camps. Her husband, who had been a
piper with the Nauvoo Legion, and some men who
had brought their violins endeavored to cheer the
Saints with their music. It was here in July 1846
that Brigham Young received the request from the
president of the United States for a battalion of 500
men to assist in the war with Mexico.
Allen enlisted and made plans for Sarah to remain
in Council Bluffs until he could return and take his
family west to the gathering place of the Saints. He
also made arrangements for his young wife to draw
supplies from a store at a small settlement on the
the Missouri River. Pleased that he would be paid
for his services, he marched away hopefully.
The accomplishments of the Mormon Battalion have
been told many times. The hardships they endured,
their courage, and their determination are recorded
in many journals and subsequent histories. Arriving
in San Diego on January 30, 1847, they continued to
serve until July 1847, when their year of enlistment
was over. Except for 81 who reenlisted for another
six months, the rest left immediately for northern
The discharged men had heard of the Brooklyn and
its load of Mormons in San Francisco and decided to
take this route to join the main body of the Church,
although they did not know at that moment exactly
where Brigham Young had decided to stop.
Using an old map that showed only a few rivers,
they journeyed past Fresno, where the Indians gave
them corn and melons. A short time later they met
Thomas Rhodes, a Mormon emigrant of 1846, and
learned from him for the first time that Great Salt
Lake Valley had been selected as the stopping place.
They arrived at Sutter's Fort on August 25, had their
animals shod, purchased needed supplies, and then
The ex-battalion members saw the remains of the
Donner Party tragedy on September 5. They con-
tinued to the other side of the summit where they
met Captain James Brown, also of the battalion, who
had been in charge of one of the companies in
Pueblo. He came to collect their discharge pay and
to bring them a letter from President Brigham Young.
They were instructed to return to California for the
winter and to work for clothing, stock, and provisions
if they did not have sufficient means. If their fami-
lies were in Salt Lake, they were to continue on.
Diaries state "half went on and half turned back."
Since about 265 had been discharged in Los Angeles,-
there were approximately 130 discharged soldiers
who turned around and went back to work a season
at Sutter's Fort and in the San Francisco Bay area.
Thus it was that Ezra Allen spent the winter work-
ing for Captain John Sutter. The following January,
1848, the nine workers building a lumber mill for
Sutter at Coloma were present when the mill foreman,
James Marshall, discovered gold. Six of the men
present were former members of the Mormon
As spring approached, the men were eager to be
on their way to Salt Lake. Situated in an enviable
position, they had first claim to rich gold deposits,
yet a majority remembered the instructions of their
Prophet and began to make plans to leave.
Eight men started out on May 1 under Captain
Daniel Browett to pioneer a wagon road over the
Sierra Nevada Mountains, since the Truckee route
was still impassable. (Browett had been elected captain
of this returning group. ) Others in
this first exploring company were
Ira J. Willis, James C. Sly, Israel
Evans, Jacob G. Truman, Ezra
Allen, J. R. Allred, Henderson Cox,
and Robert Pixton. It took them
three days to reach Iron Mountain,
where they found the snow too
deep to travel. They decided to
postpone their explorations, and
for the next couple of months the
men hunted gold and bought
wagons, supplies, and cattle. They
also built a large corral at Pleasant
Valley, nine miles from present-day
Placerville, where they planned to
rendezvous for the trip to Salt Lake
On the 24th of June three mem-
bers of the first exploring company
—Captain Daniel Browett, Ezra
Allen, and Henderson Cox— de-
cided to try again to find a route
through the mountains. Their
friends advised them against going
in such a small group because of
the Indians. They set out, each
having a riding animal and a pack
mule, saddle, and gun.
Allen made a small double pouch
for his gold dust and attached a
buckskin string, long enough to put
around his neck, letting the pouch
hang in his bosom inside his
clothes. Saying they would travel
slowly, hunt the best way to cross
the Sierra Nevada Range, and meet
their battalion companions again
somewhere in the mountains, they
By July 2 the main body was
ready to leave Pleasant Valley.
Also included in this group were
several families from the Brooklyn
as well as the discharged battalion
members. As they traveled along,
they kept a sharp lookout for their
three companions who had started
out ahead. Since Browett had not
returned, Samuel Thompson, for-
mer second lieutenant of Company
C, was made captain in his place.
On July 18 an advance company
of five men was sent ahead to clear
the road. They located a rushing
mountain spring, which had evi-
dence of a recent campfire beside
it. Nearby they also saw a new
mound of dirt. While traveling
back to the main group, they
noticed an Indian who was wear-
ing the vest of one of their missing
companions. They told their com-
panions, and the next day, when
the entire group arrived at the
spring, they found upon closer
examination arrows, broken arrows,
blood-stained rocks, and evidence
of a hard struggle. Near a big fir
tree lay Ezra Allen's gold pouch.
Darkness settled in, and around
the campfire that night the men
decided to open the mound the
next morning. To their dismay they
found the naked, mutilated bodies
of their companions. The men de-
termined the three must have been
attacked at night, since there was
evidence that two had slept to-
gether with the third nearby. The
pouch had apparently slipped to
the ground unnoticed in the dark
when Allen's clothes were being
taken. They reburied the bodies,
putting a three-foot high wall
around the grave. After filling the
center with dirt, stones were put
over the top to further seal it from
wild animals. Next they chopped
the bark from the large fir tree
and on the bole of the tree carved
this memorial to their friends:
"To the memory of Darnel
Browett, Ezrah H. Allen, and
Henderson Cox, who were sup-
posed to have been murdered and
buried by Indians on the night of
27th June, 1848."
They then named the spot
Tragedy Spring, a name it bears
today. The men continued on,
arriving in Salt Lake Valley on
September 29, 1848.
Meanwhile, Sarah Allen waited
in Council Bluffs for the return of
her husband. The supplies she was
supposed to receive from the store
had gone to others, and times had
been difficult for her. After two
years word came that some dis-
charged battalion men were to
arrive in a few days. Certain that
her husband would be among the
first to return, she waited anxiously
for his footsteps. Finally the men
did arrive and handed her the
blood-stained pouch. Her world
crumbled quickly. All of the long-
ing of two years engulfed her, and
she thought she could not go on.
But she determined to follow out
the original plan— to go to Zion and
join friends who had preceded her.
After all, there was the gold dust
in the pouch, which could outfit
her for the journey.
Sarah Allen hired a wagon made
and purchased another cow, sup-
plies, and a yoke of oxen. She saved
a small amount of the gold flakes
and had a ring made— a plain gold
band, which she wore the rest of
her life. Her journal mentions
starting west with two children, so
apparently two had died during
the two years their father was
gone. Without giving details of the
journey, except to say the "loads
were heavy and the progress
slow," she stated simply: "We
arrived in Salt Lake City in good
health September 14, 1852."
She was welcomed into the home
of her old friends, Joel and Eleanor
Martin Ricks. She later became
his second wife, and they had six
children. The Ricks lived in Far-
mington, Utah, until July 185'
when Mr. Ricks moved his two
families to Logan in the beautiful
Cache Valley. Sarah died there
June 12, 1891. Her daughter
Amorette Allen married Lewis
Ricks, second son of Joel and his
first wife, Eleanor. Her son Alex-
ander A. Allen later became a
bishop in Weston, Idaho.
Meanwhile, the stately fir kept
its constant vigil over the grave.
Correspondence in the historian's
office, state of California, reveals
that for a time no one knew the
identity of the men whose names
were carved on the tree. Someone
covered the inscription with a
piece of glass to protect the carv-
ing from the weather. In 1929 a
countv sheriff from Auburn, Cali-
fornia, wrote to the curator of
Sutter's Fort, telling him insects
were boring into the tree severely
and that the glass was completely
steamed from a sweating action of
the tree. He suggested the tree be
cut down and taken to Sutter's
Fort for preservation. A heavy
windstorm in the spring of 1930
snapped the infested tree off 15
feet above the ground. Fortunately
the inscription, untouched, was left
On August 30, 1931, the Native
Sons and Native Daughters of
California from Amador County
placed a bronze replica of the
original inscription near the fir
tree. About 300 persons attended
the ceremony. The following week
the stump, which stands about six
feet high, was cut down and
hauled to Sutter's Fort in Sacra-
mento. There it remained until
January 1966, when the Division
of Beaches and Parks moved it
permanently to the museum in the
James Marshall Gold Discovery
Park at Coloma, California.
The Sacramento County Camp,
Daughters of Utah Pioneers, has
applied to the State of California
Landmarks Commission to have
Tragedy Spring declared a historic
landmark. A recent trip to the site
revealed the stone-covered grave
in a rugged, majestic forest 150
feet from California State Highway
88, just west of Carson Pass. Two
tall trees stand at one end of the
grave, leaning over it slightly as
if to protect it. A large granite
boulder with the small plaque of
the Native Daughters embedded
on it is nearby on higher ground.
Little did Sarah Fisk and Ezra
Allen realize on their wedding day
in 1837 that the events of their
lives would become one of the
treasured stories in California and
Utah pioneer history, that his
grave and that of his two com-
panions would someday be de-
clared a historic spot, and that
over a hundred years later descen-
dants in Salt Lake City would
cherish the gold pouch and the
ring as prized heirlooms.
It was the pouch and its golden
contents that reached Sarah and
provided the needed items for her
trip to Zion, just as her husband
had planned to do himself. It
seems fitting that this ring—this
circlet of gold— remains a symbol
of the love and faith Sarah and
Ezra Allen shared!
Contributor: Jeanette_Allan Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
A history of Cache county would be incomplete and unsatisfactory were there failure to make reference to Joel Ricks, who during an extended lifetime was an active, valued and prominent citizen of that section of the state. He was born upon a farm on Donaldson creek, in Trigg county, Kentucky, February 18, 1804. In early manhood he was married on the 1st of May. 1827, to Eleanor Martin and following his marriage remained with his father, working upon the home farm until July 15, 1829, when he visited lllinois for the purpose of seeing what advantages that state offered to settlers. He made the trip on horseback and after proceeding as far north as Madison county located a farm on Silver creek about twenty miles east of Alton. He then returned to Kentucky and in company with a brother-in-law, Abel Olive, and a cousin, William Ricks, and their families, returned to Illinois on the 12th of September, 1829. Mr. Ricks was a hard-working and industrious man and accumulated property, soon becoming one of the foremost farmers and prosperous citizens of that region. In 1830 he and his wife joined the Christian church, with which he was connected until 1840, when Mormon missionaries visited the neighborhood, preaching their doctrines. He attended one of their services out of curiosity and became a convert to the faith. He then joined the church, being baptized by Elder George Boosinger on the 6th of June, 1841.
On the 20th of March, 1842, Mr. Ricks started on a visit to Nauvoo, Illinois, to see for himself what manner of man was Joseph Smith, the prophet. While in Nauvoo he had several interviews with the prophet and others prominent in the church and he returned home greatly impressed with what he had heard. In 1845 he sold his possessions in Madison county and in company with James Olive removed his family to Nauvoo and thereafter up to the time of his death was identified with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On his arrival at Nauvoo he purchased a city lot on the prairie some distance back of the temple
tor a town residence and also bought a farm at Appanoose. During his residence at Nauvoo he assisted in the building of the temple.
At the time of the exodus in 1845 Mr. Ricks, with others, traveled westward with several teams, crossing the Mississippi river at Fort Madison on the 27th of April, 1846. They were among the first pioneers who crossed the territory of Iowa. They arrived at the Missouri river near Council Bluffs in July. Mr. Ricksand his family located temporarily on Silver creek, where he planted and harvested a crop and made arrangements to continue their journey westward. In 1847 he sent one of his best teams with a pioneer company which left the Missouri river for the Rocky mountains, under the leadership of Brigham Young. After many hardships the company reached the valley of Great Salt Lake, July 24, 1847, and there founded Salt Lake City. Mr.Ricks remained on the Missouri river, however, until the spring of 1848, when he joined the great company under the leadership of Heber C. Kimball. This company consisted of twenty-four hundred and seventeen people, with seven hundred and ninety-two wagons, and was probably one of the largest caravans that ever crossed the plains. While on the Elkhorn river about thirty miles west of Omaha this company was attacked by Indians. Thomas E. Ricks, his son, and a number of other young men crossed the river on horseback to drive in some cattle that were feeding there, when the Indians opened fire on them. Thomas Ricks was wounded and left for dead by his companions. Mr. Ricks went to look for him as soon as he learned of the attack and while searching for his son was set upon by two Indians, one of whom fired on him when two or three feet away from him, but his gun missed fire. Mr. Ricks succeeded in eluding the Indian, rescued his son, and returned to the party. They continued their journey and arrived at the valley of the Great Salt Lake in September.
Mr. Ricks located at Bountiful, about twelve miles north of Salt Lake, and there erected a sawmill, remaining there during the winter of 1848-9. ln the spring of the latter year he took up land at the foot of the mountains in Centerville, there made a home and continued to reside for nine years. Soon after locating at Centerville he engaged in the tanning business at Farmington, the countyseat of Davis county. In 1854, while living atCenterville, he passed through the famine period caused by the grasshoppers and crickets. In fact the family experienced all of the hardships and privations of pioneer life and were connected with many events which have shaped Utah's picturesque and romantic history and promoted the development of the state. In the spring of 1858, when the territory was threatened with invasion by the United States army under Johnston, all the Mormon settlers left their homes again and headed toward the desert region of Mexico. Mr. Ricks and his family went with the rest as far as Nebo, in the Juab valley, when peace was restored. He then returned to Centerville in July of that year. In the spring of 1859, in company with James Quayle and Justin Shepard, attracted by the glowing reports of the Cache valley, he left for that region to look it over. Arriving in Wellsville about the 1st of June, they found ten or twelve families who had built a few cabins and were engaged in putting in crops. They crossed the eastern side of the valley and rode along the foot of the mountains, coming to Providence bench, overlooking the bottom lands of the Logan river, at that time covered with a dense growth of willow and cottonwood trees. They also looked out over the sagebrush flat where Logan now stands. Not being able to cross the river to the north side, they rode down through the valley in what is now the college district and returned to Wellsville for the night. The Cache valley at that time was so cold that for several years after the arrival of the first settlers it was not an uncommon occurrence for the wheat to be frostbitten in July. Mr. Ricks decided to locate in the new valley and, returning to Farmington, began to make preparations for the removal of his family. On July 20th he took his wife, Sarah B., and her family and started for the valley, arriving three days later. He made a temporary camp on the present site of the Brigham Young College. Later he built a log cabin at the corner now occupied by the Thatcher Brothers Bank building and occupied that pioneer home. After putting up hay for the winter he returned to Centerville and brought his other family to Logan and built them acabin on the brow of the hill where the residence of Moses Thatcher now stands, and from that time forward Mr. Ricks was identified with every step in the development of Logan and the Cache valley. In connection with Ezra T. Benson and others, he built the first sawmill and grist mill in Logan, and he also engaged in the tanning business, which at that time was a very important industry for early settlers. He was one of the first stockholders of the cooperative institutions which were organized in 1868, also a stockholder in the Deseret Telegraph Company, which was formed about the same time. For years he maintained a ferryboat on the Logan river on the west side of the valley and later he built there a bridge, which he presented to the county.
At the time of his death Mr. Ricks' descendants in the Rocky Mountain region numbered three hundred and seventy-seven. His first wife was Eleanor Martin. Having been born and reared on the frontiers of civilization, she did not enjoy the educational advantages accorded to those who come from older settled districts but was in every respect a true wife and noble woman. Her life was cast among the people and in a region where troubles and trials were the lot of all, but she never faltered in her duties or shirked her responsibilities. She wore out her life in the work of redeeming a wilderness and passed away in April, 1882. The second wife of Mr. Ricks was Sarah Beriah Fiske Allen, who was born in Potsdam, St. Lawrence county, New York, September 1, 1819, and was the sixth child of Varnum and Sarah (Eames) Fiske, who emigrated from New Hampshire to New York in 1817. Varnum Fiske was a son of Daniel Fiske and his wife was a daughter of Alexander Eames. Both of the grandfathers were soldiers of the Revolutionary war. On the 25th of December, 1837, Sarah B. Fiske became the wife of Ezra H. Allen and they took up their residence at Madrid, New York, where they spent a few years. In 1842 they outfitted and started for Nauvoo, Illinois, where they arrived early in the winter. In the following spring they moved up the river about twenty-five miles to Shokokon, where a new settlement was being made, but owing to the unhealthy conditions there they returned to Nauvoo and were present at the general conference which was held on the 6th of April inside the walls of the temple, this being the first time they had the privilege of seeing the prophet Joseph Smith. Mrs. Ricks was baptized there by Amasa Lyman and confirmed a member of the church. In 1846, on account of the continued persecution of people of their faith, they made preparations to move west. Mr. Allen, in company with Joel Ricks, made a trip to St. Louis to assist in bringing his stock to Nauvoo, in preparation for the westward journey. On the 27th of April, 1846, they crossed the Mississippi river, but on account of heavy rains and bad roads their progress was very slow. They finally arrived at Mount Pisgah, where they remained for some time, while the men of the party plowed the land and planted grain for the immigration that was expected to follow. They again resumed their journey, arriving ultimately at Council Bluffs. In July, 1846, a call was made for five hundred of the brethren to enlist in the service of the United States and this organization was known as the Mormon Battalion. Mr. Allen was among the volunteers, leaving with the company on the 16th. His wife being thus left alone, taught school in the summer of 1847. In 1848 some of the military company returned, bringing the sad news that Mr. Allen and two other men had been killed by Indians in the California mountains. A purse containing one hundred and twenty dollars had been found that belonged to Mr. Allen and was returned to her. In 1851 Mrs. Allen exchanged the gold dust for cash and goods, reserving enough to make a ring, which she wore until her death. She had a wagon built, purchased oxen and provision and in company with many others in the spring of 1852 started for Salt Lake, where they arrived on the 14th of September. There she was met by Joel Ricks,who had traveled with her and her husband in the east. He had been in Salt Lake four years, and upon her arrival he provided for her a home atCenterville, and on the 26th of October, 1852, they were married. Soon afterward Mr. Ricks engaged in the tanning business in Farmington, Davis county, their home being one of the first in that place. He continued in the business and also engaged in farming and stock raising until he became quite prosperous. After their removal to Logan, Cache County, in 1859, Mrs. Ricks for fifteen years, was wholly occupied with her family cares and strenuous labor incident to pioneer life. On May 18, 1874, she was chosen president of the First Ward Relief Society of that place, and the following ten years were spent in visiting the sick and caring for the poor, during which time she made many warm friends. On the 15th of December, 1888, JoelRicks died, being then in his eight-fifth year. His wife survived him a little more than two and one-halt rears, and died June 12, 1891. They were devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and passed away in that faith. Their lives were guided by high principles and they passed to the home beyond leaving behind them a blessed memory enshrined in the hearts of all who knew them.
Mary Elizabeth Ricks Smith
Contributor: Jeanette_Allan Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Mary Elizabeth Ricks Smith
Birth: January 19, 1843
Death: May 2, 1929
Brief sketch of Mary Elizabeth Ricks by her granddaughter, Mary Smith Porter
Joel and Eleanor Martin Ricks were living in Olive, Madison County, Illinois when their eighth child, a daughter, was born on January 19, 1843. They named her Mary Elizabeth. Her second sister, Clarinda, was especially fond of her blue-eyed, fair-haired little sister and loved to attend her many needs in early childhood.
When Mary was two and one half years old, the Ricks family moved to Nauvoo. In 1846 they, with many others, crossed the State of Iowa and settled in Council Bluffs, preparatory to crossing the plains. Mary’s father had two wagons and provisions ready to join the Brigham Young Company on their journey to Utah. A few days before they were to depart, President Young came to father Ricks and asked if he would give his outfit to Brother Heber C. Kimball who had recently returned from a mission. He gladly turned his whole outfit over to Brother Kimball and set about immediately to prepare another outfit so he would be ready to join the first company west the next spring. Brother Kimball returned to Iowa that Fall to take charge of the first company leaving in 1848, which the Ricks family joined. The Heber C. Kimball Company consisted of 2417 souls and 792 wagons.
Mary was five years old when they started west. She remembered many incidents and places of interest on that trip. She told of the great herds of buffalo; of the Indians and her great fear of them when they rode into the pioneer camps. One day they stampeded the cattle. Her oldest brother, Thomas E. Ricks, a boy of sixteen went out to find them when the Indians, in ambush, shot him seven times and left him for dead. Men of the company found him and carried him across the Platte River on a litter above their heads. Brother Kimball anointed him with oil and promised him that he should recover. A bed was made in the light wagon and the company moved on without even a day’s delay. Mary often told of the fulfillment of that promise as her brother lived to be an old man and was the founder of Rexburg, Idaho.
Another story that was passed down to her descendants told how she and her sister, Temperance had a desire to clear the tall prairie grass so that they could play with their dolls. Mary went to the light wagon even though she had been forbidden from ever lighting a fire. They soon had the grass burning and a nice place was cleared for them to play. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stop the fire and before they knew it, the entire wagon train had to move across the stream to escape the fire.
Their company arrived in Salt Lake City in September 1848 and located in Mill Creek Canyon, now known as Mueller Park Canyon, southeast of Bountiful where father Ricks helped erect and operate a sawmill for Heber C. Kimball. The next spring (1849) the Ricks family moved to Centerville, twelve miles north of Salt Lake City, locating on a stream now known as Ricks Creek.
While residing in North Centerville with her parents, Mary endured the hardships and privation of the early pioneers. She often related the story of the coming of the crickets, how they mowed down every green blade of grass and every spear of grain in their path. Starvation and want stared at them in this isolated desert land. The Saints fell upon their knees and offered up fervent prayers to their Heavenly Father to preserve them from this awful plague. The sun was then darkened by birds from which they feared added destruction had come. But, to their joy, the seagulls alighted by thousands and devoured the crickets. Deliverance had come! A portion of their crops were saved in God’s miraculous way.
Mary, her mother and her three older sisters gathered wool, washed and carded it and wove it into yards of Lindsey cloth used in making clothing and bedding for the whole family. They also spun yarn. Mary learned to knit when very young, an art she worked at all her life. She knit stockings, not only for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, but many pairs of socks for the soldiers of World War I. She received one note of gratitude from a nurse of that war, for a pair of those wool socks, which repaid her highly for her many hours of service. There was not a baby born in Centerville in years who did not receive two or more pairs of her beautiful white Saxony wool stockings.
After the family moved to Centerville, Utah, which was in the early “1850’s, Mary attended school in a one-room building south of the William Parrish home. Rhoda Chase Stoddard was her first teacher. She learned to read and spell. She seldom, if ever, found her equal in spelling. She loved to read and kept herself well informed on world events. She read many good books.
William R. Smith was an outstanding citizen in both religious and civil affairs. He was bishop of the Centerville Ward. He greatly admired Mary Ricks, so he went to her home and asked Father Ricks if he could have Mary for his wife. Her father had a deep regard for William, knowing him to be a good, honorable man, and readily gave his consent. Mary admired him, too. On April 23, 1857 they drove twelve miles to the Endowment House and were married. When they returned that afternoon, they were met at William’s gate by Joseph F. Smith and two other leading brethren. William got down from the wagon, called his hired man to come and take Mary on to her father’s home. It was three days before he came to move her to his home where his other wives were living. These women got along remarkably well. Mary loved Emeline, the first wife, and always spoke of her in the highest terms.
In the spring of 1858 Johnston’s Army invaded Utah. All the women and children were gathered into wagons with provisions, bedding and a little furniture and sent south to Utah County for safety. Most of the men remained at home to protect their meager belongings. Mary went in the wagon with Emeline and her three small children. They stopped at Spanish Fork where they remained most of the summer. After peace was negotiated with the army the women and children thankfully returned to their homes.
On September 14, 1858, Mary gave birth to triplets, two boys and a girl. The two boys were dead due to an injury she received while milking a cow about two months earlier. Although premature by two months, the little girl lives. She was carried on a pillow and fed from the tip of a spoon. She weighed less than three pounds. They name her Mary Eleanor. She was a joy and comfort to her mother.
Mary’s son Willard was born November 4, 1861. Two years later Franklin was born. William was called on a mission to England in April 1865. Before leaving he moved Mary and Millie into an adobe home on what we remember as the Rampton lot. He left his property in the hands of a brother-in-law so his three wives could be provided for. The man misappropriated the funds, leaving these two women in straitened circumstances. Tom and Mollie Wall proved to be real friends to Millie and Mary. They saw to their needs and cared for them.
On November 4, 1865, a few months after William’s departure for England, a little daughter, Josephine, was born to Mary. She was a beautiful, lovable child who brightened their home for two years. She
died just before her father returned. This was Mary’s first great sorrow. Kind friends and relatives came to comfort and cheer her.
Thomas Whitaker met and married a beautiful young widow, Elizabeth Mills Oakden, and they came to Centerville about the time Mary was married. These two women became fast friends at once. A beautiful friendship that lasted over seventy-two years bloomed, in which they not only shared their substance, but their joys and sorrows as well. One of her first girlhood friends was Susan Miles Evans, who married and had a large family. They were in real poverty and Mary shared with her and helped her over some bitter experiences. She had the happy faculty of making friends and keeping them. Sister Whitaker subscribed for the New York Ledger and invited a number of friends to enjoy it with her. Each time it came, one of the number would prepare a dinner, after which ‘Grandmother’ Brown, Elizabeth Whitaker, Susana Seamon, Mary and others gathered for over twenty years for work and entertainment.
A school teacher came from the East and boarded at the Smith’s. She had a beautiful black silk dress which the ladies all admired. Elizabeth and Mary started working and saving to get enough money to purchase material for each a dress. They dried fruit and sold it to the Z.C.M.I., did knitting and crocheting for others and in time purchased the silk. The trimming they wanted was $7.00 a yard. By working another season, they were able to get that and also new bonnets. Just as the dresses were finished, they had occasion to wear them to Brigham Young’s funeral. As they entered the tabernacle, the ushers, thinking they were eastern ladies, led them down to the best seats in the house.
On January 16, 1869, James Carlos was born. Mahalah, or Minnie, as she was called came next; then William R., who they called Willie. He was only twenty-two months old when he died. Clara was born while Mary lived in the old Waddoupe home. When she was nine months old, the family moved into their new adobe home on the main road. Four years later, Mabel was born. Mary took a real pride and joy in her family.
Her third great trial came when her eldest son, Willard, at the age of twenty-six, died after a brief illness at his home in Chesterfield, Idaho, leaving his young wife, Birdie Adams Smith, and their nine-month-old daughter, Etta. Seven years later, her beloved husband passed away at the home of his wife Millie after months of illness due to cancer of the stomach. Mary and Millie bestowed upon him every loving care. William was Mary’s ideal. She was ever loyal to his memory and loved to tell of his accomplishments.
Two years after the passing of her husband, her son, James Carlos, better known as Jim, died after a few days illness. He and his young bride, Malinda Porter Smith, were living on the sand ridge in Layton, Utah. The part that made his passing seem more tragic was that their son was born a month after Jim’s death. Linda was a daughter to Mary, always kind and understanding. Being a nurse, she cared for her in all her illnesses even until the last.
Many joys came to Mary from a long life of loving service. She was honest and true in all her dealings. She never hurt anyone intentionally, was never jealous, but rejoiced in the success and happiness of
others. She was a good cook and homemaker. She was systematic and quick in doing her work. She loved to visit with young and old and to entertain her friends and relatives.
Her passing came May 2, 1929 in her little brick home in Centerville, Utah.
One young friend, in paying tribute to her said “It was her eternal smile and cheery greeting that brought joy to young and old. Her happy disposition made everyone her friend and kept them friends. Her life of industry was an example to all who knew her. Her smile and uplifting influences will always be remembered.”
With her death, the world lost a noble other, a loyal friend and staunch Latter-day Saint. To her family she was, and ever will be: “”A perfect woman, nobly planned- To warn, to comfort and command.”
Joel Ricks (1804-1888)
Eleanor Martin Ricks (1807-1882
William Reed Smith (1826-1894)
Burial: Centerville City Cemetery
Centerville, Davis, Utah, USA