An Account of the Life of John Carson
Contributor: smithc Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
An Account of the Life of John Carson
By Emma Carson Loveridge
John Carson was born in 1819. To better understand his life we must realize that at that time walking was the most common form of travel and the horse was the fastest. Many people were born, lived, and died without having travelled away from home more than a few miles. But 1819 was an eventful year, too. Alabama became a state, Florida was purchased from Spain, the first steamboat—though it still carried sails—crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and in America it was still Wagons West! Into such a land at such a time was born John Carson.
Little is known of his boyhood. He probably grew up as most people of his time firm in the belief that his town was the center of the universe if not the universe. When, during the winter months, there was nothing he could do to help his father, John went to school. He had his share of fights and of strappings. The teacher was hired to keep order. When the big boys got tired of the teacher, they got together and out went the teacher.
John went to Churches that promised salvation if you loved God, and hell-fire, complete with brimstone, if you didn’t. Each spring his mother gave him a good dose of evil-smelling, horrible tasting sulphur and molasses. The boyhood days of John Carson were not much like our boyhood days, but they were fun.
The Carsons had heard of Mormonism and became converted. They travelled to Zion with one of the early wagon trains. You have heard so much about those trains that I won’t go into detail about that. But think a moment. Think of crossing wide rivers by letting your horse swim for it while you hold on to its tail. Think of living from a moving wagon, of cooking out of doors in the sun, in rain, or in snow; of riding and walking, jolting, jouncing over roads that were not roads or even good trails for more than a thousand miles. Then think of the danger of passing through a land in which you would always be outnumbered by Indians; remember that you were sure to spend some hungry days and nights. Add all your thoughts together and you have a wonderful adventure – to remember.
When John reached manhood he met and married Alvira Egbert. They, with other members of their family, had heard the gospel through the Elders and believed it was true. Through this they were made to suffer the hardships in the early days. At the time of mob violence they gathered all they could of their property and moved to Adams County, Illinois. This was soon after mob violence in Garden Grove, and at the time of the death of the Prophet Joseph.
In 1851 they came to Utah with a handcart company under Captain Walters and settled in Cottonwood not far from where we are celebrating today. Let us picture the difference in the looks of the country then and today: Where trails were then we have our beautiful highways, waving fields of grain, beautiful homes, lawns and flowers that they tried so hard to build for us. The courage they had, the faith they kept, is shown to us today after one Hundred Years.
John gained the reputation of a level-headed, energetic, persistent young man, so with several other men and some of his brothers and their families, was called to settle Fairfield. Shortly after they had arrived, and before they were fully established, Johnson’s Army came to Utah and were ordered to move on to Fairfield. This made some change in __ans and the Carsons moved to Lehi for one year and then returned to Camp Floyd.
It was fortunate for all concerned that John Carson did so, for he was fair, generous, and firm. These three qualities were much needed in the troublesome time of the Army. During these years there were times when many families just didn’t have enough food. Mrs. Martin Bushman, a few years ago, was asked to give some of the outstanding things in her childhood at a DUP meeting. I was there, and much to my pride and surprise she told the story of how she had gone to Camp Floyd with her father, mother and four brothers and sisters from Pleasant Grove. Her father needed work and had been told he might be able to get work building barracks for the soldiers. They were half sick from want of food for they had nothing but thistle greens and sego roots with a little corn bread for days before they left. Her story was called “The Biggest Piece of Meat.” They were so hungry the children had reached the point where they were crying, when a tall, thin man came to their wagon with a quarter of beef and some flour. This kind man had in some way learned or heard that this family needed food. There was no fuss and show. He spoke words of courage to all and left before he could be thanked or his name could be learned. Later a cow was loaned to the family for as long as they lived in Camp Floyd, and it was then that they learned who their benefactor was. She said she had seen large beef and pigs hanging up but never did they look as big as the quarter beef Bishop John Carson brought, and never had meat tasted so good and milk never had more cream on or tasted better than this cow gave.
Able J. Evans has told me many generous dealings his father had with grandfather. During the bad winter of -56 (I think that was the year) he told of how their cattle were starving, how grandfather, who had seen ahead, was able to let them have many loads of hay without pay to save all their cattle, and it took his father seven years to pay back in hay and money; but no one would have ever known about this good deed if grandfather had been the one to tell it.
How I wish I had been old enough to have known his better and remembered more about him. I do remember of his coming up to our home and always clearing his through then giving two gentle taps on the door so as not to frighten mother, as the Indians were always around. I do remember his coming almost every day, and he would always ask if all were well, and where was William if he wasn’t in sight. If he accepted an invitation to eat with us and were just finishing a meal he would sit down, turn the nearest plate by him over and eat from the back. We thought that different and often tried it after he had gone.
This has not been a history but an account of the man whose memory we are observing. He was not the first of our line, and we may hope that he will not be the last of it. John Carson was a human being with human faults and human troubles, but he met those troubles in such a way that all those who knew him mourned his passing.
John Carson-As Remembered by David H. Carson
Contributor: smithc Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
(Lehi, Utah April 11, 1963)
I am the grandson of John and Elvira Egbert Carson, born April 11, 1877 at Fairfield, Utah County, Utah. My grandfather was born November 13, 1819 at Green Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania and died August 22, 1895 at Fairfield, Utah County, Utah. My grandmother was born September 10, 1821 at Carlyle, Sullivan County, Indiana and died February 12, 1908 at Provo Bench, Utah County, Utah. They were both buried at Fairfield, Utah. I knew them very well and loved and respected them. I was about eighteen years old when Grandfather died. He was always very kind to me so I was always glad to listen to him tell some of his experiences which were many. He came to Utah with his father and mother, George and Ann Huff Carson. Four brothers and two sisters landed in Cottonwood in September 1851. Their father died there. In 1855, the Carsons located about 45 miles south and west of Salt Lake City in Cedar Valley. They were with the first settlers and named the place, Fairfield. There was a man by the name of Amos Fielding who surveyed 45-acre lots and just as many building lots. There was a large spring about one-half mile above the town site and the citizens began making ditches to take the water out of the creek onto their land. The Indians were bad so they began to build a stone fort in 1856 and finished it in 1857.
Two of the Carson boys, George and Washington, were killed by the Indians. They were the sons of George and Ann Huff Carson. A group of Indians were camped on the south side of the creek at Fairfield on February 21, 1956 when a United States Marshall walked in and took the chief by the hair of his head and said, “You are under arrest.” The Indians came out from under the tent like bees from a hive.
A squaw shot a poisoned arrow and hit George in the foot. The Indians packed up and headed for Utah Lake. Just before they reached the lake, they met and killed Washington Carson and Henry Moran, who were caring for some cattle. This was February 22. George also died February 22, making three deaths that day. My father, William F. Carson, told this paragraph to me.
Then in July 1858, Johnston’s Army came and camped across the creek from the town. There were about 2500 soldiers and three or four hundred helpers. It wasn’t long (with the element that usually follows an army) until there were seven thousand people in Fairfield, or Camp Floyd as it was called after the army came.
John Carson was Counselor in the Cedar Valley Ward Bishopric and Presiding Elder of the Fairfield Branch, which position he held for 31 years or until his death. He was a good leader of the branch.
In listening to Grandfather, he told one experience that I would like to retell. I believe I am the only man living that heard the story. I heard him tell it a number of times. This is the way it went:
Grandfather received a note saying, “Mr. Carson, would you please come to my office. I wish to talk with you.” Grandfather said he was afraid to go and afraid not to go. So when he got there, the orderly announced, “Mr. Carson is here.” General Johnston called, “Come in. He was asked to sit down. This is what General Johnston said: "Mr. Carson, I have felt since moving here that you and your people think me and my men are going to do you some harm. That is wrong. But whether you know it or not, there is always a rough element that follows an army. Some are here and more are coming. That is why I have asked you to come. I can handle them on my side of the creek, but with the police force you have, I wonder if you can handle your side. But if the time ever comes, just let me know and I will help you.” A short time later, a man began building a cabin and other barnyard buildings. The corral and pigpen were so the stock could wade in the creek. There was also an outhouse or “privy” built a few feet from the ditch bank. This was the creek that ran through the town from which the people had to drink the water.
Grandfather went and talked with the man, saying people had to drink the water from that creek and wouldn’t he please move the pigpen, etc. further away from the creek. The answer was “I am going to build that there and that there in spite of Brigham Young, General Johnston or God Almighty.”
Grandfather just couldn’t make him move, so decided to see what General Johnston would do. He sent a note to the General, explained the case to him. Less than thirty minutes after the note was delivered, the General could be seen coming from his office with an orderly right behind him, headed where the man was working. The man was told that unless the pens and privy were moved from there within 24 hours, he would be moved at the point of a bayonet. The man took the General’s word for it and moved about two miles east and started a house of all lumber.
It is little wonder that the General and Grandfather were good friends from then on. It is the writer’s belief that General Albert Sidney Johnston and Col. Phillip St. George Cooke were better friends to the Mormon people than many would make believe.
My father, William F. Carson, made his home in Fairfield from 1855 to 1908 when he moved to Lehi. He saw the Pony Express come and go. He was there when Johnston’s Army came and left and was there when the first and last trips of the Overland Stage passed through Fairfield.
When Johnston’s Army left, two of the men stayed, married two Utah girls, lived and died in Fairfield. They were Henry Snyder and James McLane. I knew them both very well as a young man. They were excellent neighbors and good citizens.
The information written in this article was told to me by Grandfather John Carson and by my father. I believe it to be correct.
(Scanned in by Shauna Buchanan Bunker on October 9, 2013 from personal files.)
THE NIGHT JOHN CARSON DIED
Contributor: smithc Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
THE NIGHT JOHN CARSON DIED written by Grandson David Carson
Since some members of the family know I was at his home the night grandpa passed away, I don’t know of a better way to explain and say what I would to say, than to just re-live those 2 or 3 hours as I remember them. I cannot tell you why I was there except that I was there with my Father. At the time there was nothing unusual about Father being there, but later I knew why. I could see Grandpa was not well but never thought he might be leaving us so soon, this is as I remember.
The bed was in the southwest corner of the room, head against the west wall. Grandpa was laying on the pillow his white hair on the white pillow slip. Aunt Emma was just moving around from the kitchen to the bed and back, never sitting down. Charlie was there. Father was looking at the paper over in the northeast corner of the room, I was by Father. The other children were in bed in the little bedrooms adjoining. Aunt Emma said, “Bishop, (she always called him Bishop), do you want to say something to Charlie?” Charlie went over to the bed and Grandpa took his hand. Then it was I began to think something was going to happen. After he was finished with Charlie, Aunt Emma said, “Dave is here, do you want to say something to him?” I wasn’t afraid but began to realize something was going to happen. To this day I only have to close my eyes and I can feel his hand ahold of mine—it is all so real. Some of the things he told me I have forgotten—some I will never forget—this I remember: “Dave, I hope you grow up to be a man—honest in your dealings with people and never take advantage of a man in a trade.” This I remembered and I have tried to make that a part of my life, and as I look back now, I believe it has paid off. When Grandpa had finished talking with me Father told me I had better go home now.
It is after 12 o’clock so I went home, got in bed in the room next to Mother’s. I suppose I went to sleep but after awhile I heard Father talking to Mother. I heard him say Grandpa passed away at 3 a.m. There was no undertaker in Fairfield so Father and a neighbor went to Lehi in a lumber wagon. Instead of getting a casket they got some very nice lumber and Mr.Burrows made the casket. Father run the old grist mill but did no run the mill during the summer months so I remember they built the casket in the old mill where there was plenty of room. It was covered with white material, had six nice handles to carry it by.
I remember Grandpa looked very nice and peaceful in the casket and I remember they carried him to the meeting house. I do not remember who the pall bearers were but I do remember them carrying the casket and the family and friends walking along. I remember best just as they were going along where Will Thomas’ store and home is now. It was a vacant lot then owned by Henry Snyder. Grandpa always had a dread that when the casket lid and box began to crumble the dirt would fall down in his face. They had no cement vaults in those days. Father had some 2 inch thick red wood planks, he saved them in lengths to fit over the casket. To this day that grave has never settled.
As a young man of 18 years I would say he had a plain but nice burial. To me he was a good man. I loved him very much and hope that some time in the future I will be able to live with him again. (Written by his Grandson David Carson)
SUBMITTED BY: Shauna Buchanan Bunker, found in the files on Edward Carson Bunker
Contributor: smithc Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
John Carson was born November 13, 1819 in Green Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania. His father was George Carson, who was Presbyterian, and his mother Ann Hough (Huff) who was Quaker. John’s grandfather was William Carson, of Scot-Irish ancestry, who emigrated from the north of Ireland in time to take up arms in the cause of American Independence. William fought under General Washington at the battle of Long Island, and served as a regular throughout the war. About 1817, George Carson and Ann Hough were married, probably in Wayne Township, Mifflin County. They were the parents of eight children, six boys and two girls: William Huff Carson, born 8 Jan 1818, John Carson, born 13 Nov 1819, Jonathan, about 1820, Elizabeth, 7 July 1822, George, 2 Oct 1827, David, 2 Oct 1827, Washington, 18 April 1830 and Mary Ann, 16 Mar 1833.
In 1830 the family is living in Chippewa Township. In the fall of 1822 they moved to Wayne County, Ohio. In the middle of June 1831 George and Ann, on leaving church services one Sunday afternoon, saw two men teaching under a tree. They listened and found they were two Mormon Missionaries, David Whitmer and Harvey Whitlock. They had been commanded to travel to Missouri, preaching along the way. (See D&C 52:25.) Ann joined the Mormon Church that same month; George joined late in August, 1831. George and Ann was among those very special spirits, called to be born at a time and place where they could hear and recognize the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was first preached in the earliest days of this dispensation. We do not know why they moved their young family to Ohio, we do know, this is where they heard the missionaries and join the Mormon Church. John was twelve years old when he was baptized in Missouri.
August 1831 Joseph Smith dedicated the temple site in Independence, Missouri, designating the surrounding area as ‘Zion’. He called for all saints to gather to Zion, instructing those returning to Ohio to inform all saints they contacted of the call to Zion. They lived in Missouri for eight years and endured all the hardships and persecutions. On May 20, 1839; John’s father George files his redress petition:
“Illenois Quincy may the 20 1839 a bill of Damages a gainst the State of Missouri, for Being Driven from the State By a mob—
First for mooveing in the State $150.00
For property Lot in the State $200.00
For leaving the State and Loss of propprty $1000.00
I certify the a bove a count to Be Just and true a cording to the Best of my Knowledg.
(Sworn to before C.M. Woods, C.C.C., Adams Co..IL. 18 May 1839)” (Mormon Redress Petitions)
This petition was to be taken to Washington by Joseph Smith.
In the year of 1833 they were expelled with their co-religionists by mob violence from Jackson County, and for the next five years lived in Clay County, prior to making their home for a brief period in Caldwell County, whence they were driven with their people into Illinois. They lived in Adams County, Illinois where they remained for about twelve years. Again the persecutions and hardships were endured.
In 1840, John and his family were living near Nauvoo in Hancock County. The day is the 31 January 1841 and John and Elvira, John’s first wife were married at Nauvoo, Hancock, IL. They moved back to Adams Co. with John’s family. They worked together planting eight acres of corn. Elvira would drop the corn in the ground and John would cover it with a hoe. They planted eight acres of corn. John took a contract to cut hay. While he was in the field he was taken sick with a fever and never worked again until spring. That spring they moved back to Hancock Co. twenty miles east of Nauvoo, a town called LaHarpe. Their oldest son died there. Then they were called back to Nauvoo to be protected from the mobs. In the summer of 1846 the family left Nauvoo, returned to Adams County IL. There they gather their belongings and prepared to come west. Elvira would weave in the day and spin at night to get enough cloth to come west. On their way to Nauvoo John sprained his ankle by jumping from the wagon to stop his team as it was wild and hard to control. They remained in Nauvoo until they started to cross the plains. In July 18, 1847 they were living at Garden Grove. The Saints living in Garden Grove were the poorest of the poor. It took them some time before they could get enough supplies to come west. In December the 12th day 1847, John Carson was ordained an Elder by President Thomas Kington.
Early in the spring of 1851, they left Winter Quarters. They arrived in Salt Lake City the fall of 1851, about the latter part of September. They had a comfortable ox team outfit and the usual stock of supplies for a journey across the plains. The Mormon emigrant train in which they traveled from the frontier was under the direction of Captain Harry Walton. There were sixty wagons, divided into sections of ten. All in all it was a pleasant journey, though two deaths occurred on the way, those of Mother Thompson and Miss Kingsley, the latter killed by buffalo, smelt by the oxen, had maddened them and thus caused the disaster.
They settled first at South Cottonwood, (Murray today) ten miles south of Salt Lake City. The same fall his father, George then in his sixty-fourth year, fell sick and died and his buried in Fort Union Cemetery.
After the folks left Cottonwood, they moved to Dry Creek (Lehi). They only lived there for a short time. The Carson family endured all the hardships of Missouri and Nauvoo. They settle for a while in Garden Grove before moving on west to be with the Saints in Utah. They did not escape the hardships of the early Saints of the church. They suffer it all.
In Dec1855 they moved to Fairfield. Fairfield was settled by John Carson, William Carson, David Carson, George Carson, Washington Carson, William Beardshall, John Clegg, and others. There were also two sisters of the Carson brothers: Elizabeth, who married Patterson Griffith, and Mary (Polly)Ann, who married Thomas Ewing. Due to the hostility of the Indians John and Elvira moved to a small settlement near Cedar Fort for greater safety, and on returning to Fairfield they repeated their experience in Union, and for three weeks they never tasted bread.
They moved into a Fort. Most of the houses in the Fort were log houses. There were just one or two adobe houses. All the roofs on the houses were slanted toward the Fort so that there were just about three or four feet from the roof to the top of the Fort. They were made this way in case of trouble with the Indians, the people could get out and walk along the roofs of the houses and see what was going on that way. Forty families took claims and each claim consisted of one city block and five acres. Some of these people never did get out there, though; the John Carson’s lived in the south-east corner of the Fort. John was Bishop of Fairfield for over thirty years.
Two of the Carson’s brothers were killed by Indians. George Carson and Washington Carson. This was a very sad time for the family. These two brothers left a wife and children; but we need to realize that the Indians suffered also. The Indians were driven from their land, water, and choice hunting grounds. Control of limited water supply in the valley was important to the settlers and equally important to the Indians.
Indian families lived close to Fairfield. The squaws would beg from house to house. Brigham Young encouraged the Mormons to feed the Indians rather than fight them. The settlers tried to adhere to this policy; however, many times disastrous harvests left them with barely enough food to last the winter. They wanted to get their cattle through the winter to build their herds for future years. It was not a time when most people were willing to share. The settlers in Fairfield built their Fort on the very spot where the Indians would hunt their winter game.
Mads Christensen worked for young George Carson and he describes the hardships that the early settlers of Fairfield endured. At one time there was no bread and the settlers had to work together to harvest their wheat. “Forming a row at one end we pulled it up root and all, bunch by bunch. The following day the oxen were put upon it on a smooth place on the ground and it was trampled out by four head of oxen. Then the chaff was fanned away, and the wheat sacked and sent to the mill 30 miles distant to be ground. When a sack of the flour and one of bran were brought into the house, there was a time of rejoicing hard to describe. The good housewife was touched to tears over what we had passed through, while chatter of the children was about the bread which was in prospect. Soon we got it in the form of warm biscuit and bread, which never tasted better. Later a moderate harvest was gathered in Utah and the famine was a thing of the past.”
There seemed to be trouble brewing and they heard of Johnston’s Army who was coming to Utah and had been camped up around Echo Canyon for about three months, was coming to settle in Fairfield. Some of the families picked up and left. John only got as far as Lehi where they lived in dugouts by the Jordan River. When the Johnston’s Army settled in Fairfield they named the post “Camp Floyd” in honor off John B. Floyd, the Secretary of War. Over night the little settlement of Fairfield became a city of 7,000 people. The third largest city in Utah.
While the Carson’s were in Lehi waiting the coming of the Johnston’s Army, they were advised to move back to Fairfield, as they did. By now the Johnston’s Army was peaceably established there. Because of the army being in Fairfield they didn’t need the Fort to protect them from the Indians, so John Carson took the rock or stones that surrounded the Fort to build the Carson Hotel. The Pony Express ran from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Every sixty miles fresh horses and riders would be established along the Overland Stage Route. Carson’s Hotel in Fairfield was one of the stations for the Pony Express and the Overland Stage route. This helped build up the economy of Fairfield and benefited the Carson family. For a time things prospered exceedingly.
Fairfield was a small town where only a few families lived. Before the Carson’s arrived in Utah, they had experienced great persecutions from mobs in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. They were persecuted because of their religious beliefs in Mormonism, and were forced to leave their homes and many of their possessions. Once in Utah the Indians were a constant threat to their survival. However, nothing compared to the dangerous conditions they endured when Federal Troops entered the Great Salt Lake Valley and settled in Fairfield.
The impact the federal troops had on Fairfield was phenomenal. The influence the army had on this small settlement was greater then anything the first settlers had endured. The need to tell this story is one that needs to be told so that we can try to understand John Carson and his family and the other kinds of persecutions, (evil of the world) and how it affects a single family, the John Carson family.
With the army came the usual camp followers and questionable characters, and a new problem, never encountered by them before, was at their doors; they had to protect their children from the wickedness of the world. Time and time again they refused large sums of money that was offered them just for permission to escort their daughters to the theater. This was always refused; and they managed to keep their children from too close association with the army and its followers, all though a few, were taken by the army and never seen again.
On Front Street, there arose seventeen saloons, gambling dens and brothels. Gambling was king in Frogtown and prostitution was queen. The city became a legend, more notorious than any other city of equal size. These prostitutes were bought and sold for one hundred dollars a piece. Their names were “Gentle Annie”, “Dobie Mary”, or “Pretty Polly”.
The teamsters were the most corrupt of all the Ruffians. They were young, half savage men who looked as if they had not taken a bath since leaving Missouri. They were easily provoked to violence, quarrelsome, and were experts in using vulgar language. Murders were a common daily occurrence. There were bloody ambushes and midnight assassinations. The ruffians gambled with gold coins. It was said that in one gambling den 32,000 dollars was on hand.
A favorite drink of many ruffians was popular liquor called Valley Tan. This liquor was also known as “Tiger Sweat” or Tarantula Juice”. Horace Greeley, the famous New York Tribune journalist visited the Fairfield in 1859 and described “Valley Tan”. He said it was a “compound of spirits of turpentine, agua fortes, and steeped tobacco”, its looks alone would condemn it – soapy, ropey, turbid, it is within bounds to say that every pint contains as much poison as a gallon of whiskey”.
The first bank in Utah was located in Fairfield. The Walker Brothers came to Fairfield, married one of the daughters of John and Elvira, and started the banking business. After the army left to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate Army, the banking business left Fairfield and moved to Salt Lake City.
The men had their temptations too, time and time again they were offered the privilege of purchasing condemned food from scoundrel officers who would bill the government; this food like beans, ham and bacon, and clothing would find ready sale to immigrants on the way to the Gold Mines of California. They were on the Stage Line to the coast about thirty miles from Salt Lake City.
Fairfield was once known as the wickedest city in the western United States. Back in 1858, the evil began when Johnston’s Army arrived and dragged along the rough element that seems to always follow. Fairfield grew overnight when Johnston’s Army entered and became a boom town. Soon after the army’s arrival, Fairfield became a wicked city. Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston was sent to Utah to establish Camp Floyd and keep an eye on the Mormons. Two days after the army had moved in the rough element that always followed the armies arrived and rattled the small Mormon community.
This presented the Carson family and other residents of Fairfield with a great dilemma. How would they protect their children from the wickedness of the world that surrounded them? Being pioneers was hard, as was stated before, but this was even harder. “Time and time again they refused large sums of money that was offered them just for permission to escort their daughters to the theater”. John Carson was confronted many times to purchase condemned food from scoundrel officers who would take advantage of the government.
The Army blew out as fast as it had blown in, causing the population to drop from 10,000 people to only 18 families residing in Fairfield. This sudden population decrease was just as devastating as the sudden increase was. In 1860 most of the troops were removed from Fairfield to Mexico and Arizona. The remainder of the Army was ordered to the eastern states, because of the Civil War. Fairfield collapse when the army departed. The army sold their surplus as soon as possible because of the urgency of the Civil War.
Johnston’s Army, and the hell roaring environment it created left as fast as it swept in. When the army left, so did the wealth. The Pony Express lasted one year. It was replaced by the telegraph. The Overland Stage route lasted nine years. It was replaced by the Rail Road. Fairfield became a desolate city, where today the John Carson Inn stands peacefully as a reminder of an era of perdition. However, John Carson never allowed any corruption in his Hotel. He manages a very respectful business among corruption.
John and Elvira (first wife) and their family were interested in Church activity and Elvira was especially interested in the Relief Society while her husband was bishop. Elvira was first counselor in the Relief Society until she moved to Provo Bench (Orem) to live by her daughter. Elvira was 55 years old when John Carson married his second wife, Emma Partridge. When she was seventy-five years old and married for fifty-six years and mother of eleven children, she passed away the 12th of February 1908 at her daughter’s home Verena Carson Crandall. John preceded her in death on 21 August 1895. For many years the family held reunions on Elvira’s birthday, which gave her great joy, happiness and satisfaction, and enriched her later years. She was buried in Fairfield, by the side of her husband, John Carson, on 16 February 1908.
John’s second wife, Emma Partridge was the fourth child of Charles Partridge and Mary Smith. The family joins the church early in it history. On the 6th of April, 1849 Charles Partridge and Mary Smith were married. One child was born to them while they lived in Pottawattamie Co., Iowa. Because they were anxious to follow the saints westward, in 1850 they crossed the plains coming directly to Lehi, Utah where they settled. Here, five more children were born to them, the third one being named Emma. The Partridge family finally settles in Goshen, Utah. At this time there was only one grist mill in Utah County. It was operated and owned by John Carson. Farmers from as far away as Goshen brought their grain to Fairfield to have it made into flour; Father Partridge was one of these farmers. John and Elvira needed help with house hold chores, and so Emma travels with her father from Goshen to help Elvira with the work at the Hotel.
These were the days of polygamy and in a year’s time, on the 28th of February 1876, Emma was married to Mr. Carson in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Utah. She was given the one large and two small rooms on the North end of the house. The other 12 rooms were occupied by his first family and some rooms used as sleeping quarters and one large sitting room for transients. Emma told of both happy times and some not as happy as the two families lived in the same house. The two wives lived together for about 14 to 16 years. She also said that Bishop Carson was a good provider for his family while he lived.
Then came the time the “outsiders” (those who did not belong to the L.D.S.Church) began to persecute the polygamists. Many hardships were endured by Emma and her children during this time. Sometimes Mr. Carson, who was also Bishop in Fairfield, would have to hide in the low hills or a deep wash for days at a time. At those times, Emma sent the little boys with food and water to their father, always with the fear they would be seen or followed by the Non- Mormon informer who lived in Fairfield.
Finally when the manifesto was signed in 1890, Mr. Carson moved his first wife to Provo Bench, now Orem. Her children were grown and married and he felt that he needed to help Emma raise the young family.
We can’t realize the heartache this condition caused. Both of his wives were fine women, and he loved them both. but the laws of the land must be obeyed. So one loved one had to move. Over the years Emma’s son hauled wood and supplies such as flour, bacon, hams and potatoes to the first wife.
When John passed away in 1895, all he left was an honorable name and the old hotel. John Carson and Emma were parents of nine children and were married for 19 years when John passed away. The oldest was eighteen years old and the baby two years old when he passed away. On this sad day in August 1895, Emma was left with eight children to raise alone with no way of making a living except with her own two hands.
The Carson children said that many times they would ask George and Ann to tell about the hardships they had to go through, and yet as they told these things they did not complain. Once asked Ann about their hardships, she said “we survived”, just within those few words speak volumes of hardships and also happy times. There were times when they did not have enough to eat and feed their families. Many times they would put a pan of milk on the old cook stove and stir a little flour into that milk to thicken it some, and they had to eat it with a spoon. They always had some flour; they called it Bur Mill and Graham Flour. They didn’t have a lot of yeast and they became expert at making salt risen bread. They stir water and flour together to a thin batter and let it stand in a warm place until it would sort of ferment, and then they would use some of that to make the bread, always leaving a start for the next baking. It was used instead of using yeast.
In American Fork they had a molasses mill, taking a load of good cedar wood and trading the wood for twenty or thirty gallons of molasses, depending upon the size of the load of wood, they would make some home-made sorghum. They had very little fruit, so the molasses took the place of fruit. The sorghum was good for making candy. In the winter they would make candy from the molasses and they would put a pinch of ginger in it and it was good for coughs. John Carson’s family would talk about pigweeds and sego, a plant that grew like a butter onion, for greens. They would dig and eat them because they were hungry. They also dug the old bull thistle and they had a good taste. There were two kinds of sego; one was poison, the other was not. They would take the bull thistles and peel the outside off and eat it like a carrot. They said that all in all, they fared well. We had enough to eat, a good place to sleep, and clothes to keep us warm, even if they did not look too nice for Sunday.
There was a friendship between neighbors and friends in Fairfield where in the evening hours they would visit and enjoy one another.
The winter of 1868 was very bad. The fall before that bad winter, John Carson’s brother William, who also lived in Fairfield, took a bunch of his cattle down to Desert, where there were a lot of bull rush, etc. He took sixty-one head, one was a bull. When they arrived to stay and take care of the cattle, every one of the cattle died. The bull was the last to go. Even in those days the pioneers had their ups and downs, too: no subsidies, no government help. If you lost it was your hard luck. They had to start over again from scratch.
John Carson and his family suffered many hardships. Persecutions that they suffer being the early members of the church, and then settling in Fairfield and the influence on the Johnston’s Army. The settlers of Fairfield found the ground dry and parched, hard to plant. They work hard to obtain water and food. Nevertheless, they subdued the land, and provided food and shelter for their families. The humble circumstances they found themselves in gave them faith to depend on each other and on their God.
John Carson was married to Elvira Egbert and Emma Partirdge and was the father of twenty children. Raising such a large family in the environment that Fairfield presented was perhaps his greatest challenge.
After the army left, Fairfield again became a quiet little farming community with only the crumbling buildings to prove that the three year stay of the army was any more than a brief nightmare.
John Carson had to be jack-of-all trades. He had to know how to do his own work, such as blacksmithing, veterinarian, repairman, harness maker etc. It was necessary for survival. He was skilled at butchering and curing the meat he raised from sheep, hogs and cattle. He made sure his boys helped him so that they learned how to do it for themselves.
It was said by his second wife, Emma, “John was a good man, a hard worker who provided well for his families, he was well liked and respected wherever he went”.
As it says in one of his Patriarchal Blessing, “you shall have wives and children; power to govern yourself; you will become a mighty man in Israel, your name shall be had in honorable remembrance, you shall do a good work upon the earth, and be an honor to your father’s house in avenging the blood of the Prophets and martyrs. Your heart is honest and you have a fixed resolution in your soul to help build up the kingdom”.
John Carson died Aug 22, 1895, and is buried in the Fairfield cemetery between his two loving wives.
There are many authors who have written histories about John Carson and the famous Carson Inn, or the Stage Coach Inn located in Fairfield. This history was compiled from many of those histories. Leone Carson, Lynn Carson, Elvira Egbert History, Susan and Debbie Beck are some of the sources that this history from extracted from.
This history was organized by Linda Carson Beck
news article "Daily herald"
Contributor: smithc Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Camp Floyd: Uncle Sam meets the Mormons
THOMAS G. ALEXANDER AND LEONARD J. ARRINGTON - Daily Herald Aug 17, 2003 (0)
The following is an abridgement of an article that appeared in the Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, No. 1, 1966. It is reprinted here with permission of the Utah State Historical Society. Photos courtesy of Mark A. Trotter, manager of the Camp Floyd/Stagecoach Inn State Park and Museum. For more information on the park and museum, call 801-768-8932.
On June 26, 1858, approximately 2,500 United States troops and another 1,000 civilian employees marched and rode down Emigration Canyon and into the peaceful Salt Lake Valley.
As they tramped through Salt Lake City, though they had spent the preceding fall and winter opposing a band of determined guerrillas, no surging crowds hailed them as defenders of Americanism. Instead, they were greeted by complete and stony silence -- from a town supposedly inhabited by 15,000 people. They marched on down North Temple Street, across the Jordan River, and after following the river south for several miles, established camp at what is now 21st South and Redwood Road.
Marching under orders of General Winfield Scott issued in May 1857, the soldiers came from various western posts by way of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They had originally served under General W. S. Harney, commanding officer of the Department of the West, but in August 1857, because General Harney was badly needed in "bleeding Kansas," Colonel (later General) Albert Sidney Johnston assumed command. When this formidable force had assembled, it included units from the 5th and 10th Infantry, the 2nd Dragoons, and the 4th Artillery [about one-third of the entire U.S. army at the time].
Johnston's warriors moved west, not to fight renegade Indians, but to quell a reported insurrection among a group of white Americans. Reports from various federal officials and private citizens alleged that the Mormons had rebelled against the authority of the federal government, and President James Buchanan, after consulting with members of his cabinet, particularly Secretary of War John B. Floyd, had acted on the basis of these reports.
Buchanan ordered the War Department to spare no expense in baring the long arm of federal authority against these obstreperous insurgents.
On July 24, 1857, as [the] advance guard under Colonel E. B. Alexander marched across Kansas, Governor Brigham Young and a large number of Mormons had gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. Young had neither been informed of the charges against his people nor allowed to give evidence in their behalf. Remembering the Illinois and Missouri persecutions, he determined that ... his people would not [again] be slaughtered and driven against their will.
After declaring a state of martial law in Utah, Young, in conference with officials of the territorial militia, called the Nauvoo Legion, and the general authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, determined upon a plan of action. Using properties of the Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company, a church transportation agency, and requisitioning supplies from the hundred or more Mormon communities, the church outfitted 1,100 men with revolvers, rifles, horses, and other equipment and sent them out to harass Johnston's Army.
Before sending out this well-equipped force, small groups of "Mormon raiders" under Major Lot Smith advanced to stop the supply trains by burning grass and wagons and running off livestock.
Because of these delaying tactics, Johnston's Army could not enter the Salt Lake Valley until the spring of 1858 after arbitration had taken place between Mormon officials and federal authorities. The Army agreed to march through the city without stopping and to make a permanent camp some distance away. In spite of a proclamation of amnesty by President James Buchanan, Mormons prepared to burn their homes if any indignities were perpetrated.
Originally Johnston planned to take his troops to the Rush Military Reserve (Rush Valley) which Colonel E. J. Steptoe had set apart in 1855. By July 1, though, he decided upon Cedar Valley, a small depression between the Lake Mountains and the Oquirrhs, almost directly west of Provo across Utah Lake, and to the east of Rush Valley.
This site appeared to offer an ample supply of water, wood, and pasture, and had "a commanding position" so that "the force, if called for, [could] be promptly applied either in the direction of Salt Lake City or Provo."
Upon their arrival in Cedar Valley, the troops established temporary camp at Cedar Fort, or upper fort, about six miles north of Fairfield, a small town founded three years earlier by John Carson, his four brothers, and two other men -- Mormon immigrants from Pennsylvania. ... Since the water supply at the upper fort was found to be muddy and inadequate and the soil so [dusty] ... that the men could not even drill, Johnston ordered the permanent post built at Fairfield.
The reaction of one captain to locating in this "God forsaken spot" betrays his Yankee upbringing:
The object in choosing this place as a military site must have been to accustom us to all kinds of unseasonableness in order to reconcile us to the greatest of all possible unseasonablenesses, viz., that of slavery.
Under General Johnston's orders, Lieutenant Colonel D. Ruggles laid out the new post. Beginning at the source of a creek which formed the boundary between Fairfield and the installation, the Camp ran east and south making an approximate rectangle about 3,000 by 1,600 feet. From west to east Ruggles planned positions for the department and camp headquarters, the infantry units, the artillery units, and the dragoons.
To the south behind the Camp he mapped out storehouses, stables, corrals, and workshops; and on the extreme west end outside the perimeter, he provided for a powder magazine.
In the center front of the Camp near the bridge which connected Camp Floyd with Fairfield, he located the theatre.
To provide water for the Camp, an aqueduct was planned. At its largest, the base consisted of between 300 and 400 buildings. ...
The soldiers began to arrive at the site on September 4, and they, together with Mormons hired for the purpose, were immediately detailed to build their own quarters. These were cabin-like units of adobe, with dirt floors (except for some officers) and board roofs covered with four inches of adobe mud.
The post quartermaster cleaned out and walled up a spring near the Camp, dammed the stream which flowed from it, and built a mill to grind corn. The lake formed by the dam was stocked with fish from Utah Lake, and the stream below was lined with bath houses. On November 9, 1858, with a salvo from the artillery, the United States flag was raised and the post was officially opened.
A large part of the building materials, and part of the labor used in constructing the fort, were obtained from local sources. About 1.6 million adobes -- made by pressing a mixture of clay, water, and straw into molds 8 by 4 inches and leaving them in the sun to dry -- were baked by Mormon farmers and sold for one cent each.
The lumber used in framing and roofing the buildings was purchased for about $70 per 1,000 board feet and came primarily from the church's Big Cottonwood Lumber Company and from Brigham Young's mill in Mill Creek Canyon. Horace Greeley, who visited Camp Floyd in 1859, stated that the Camp had cost $200,000, of which Brigham Young (i.e., the church "trustee-in-trust") received at least $50,000.
Congress had previously made no appropriation for the work, and Johnston had been obliged to make the outlays of cash on his own responsibility. Carpenters, mechanics, and artisans who worked on the fort received from $3 to $7 per day plus board -- a windfall which was of considerable assistance in supporting the local economy. ...
As the Army trudged into Salt Lake Valley, and particularly after the soldiers camped at 21st South and Redwood Road, local citizens began to barter and sell produce for goods which they needed. The Mormons, some of whom claimed never to have seen United States coin, sold potatoes for $2 per bushel, new potatoes for $3 per bushel, beer for $2 per gallon, butter for 50 cents per pound, and fish for $1 each.
In addition they bartered their produce for wagon covers and for seamless sacks from which they made everyday wearing apparel. Merchants who moved in with the Army immediately took advantage of the situation and began to sell such items as cotton yarn, boots, shoes, hats, and hardware. Among the Mormons who went into business at this time were the Walker Brothers, who set up a general store at Camp Floyd in 1859, and who later became the territory's most powerful merchants and bankers. ...
Gentiles as well made enormous profits from the operations. Sutlers poured into camp with trainloads of goods. Men like Alexander Toponce herded horses and mules for the Army. Some like Richard T. Ackley toured Mormon settlements in Utah Valley purchasing grain which they could deliver at the camp at a cost of $4 to $4.50 per hundred pounds. Ackley then sold it to the Army for approximately $30 per hundred. He also purchased a large boardinghouse and made a great deal of money by putting up the quartermaster's men. ...
In addition to the merchants and traders who came with the Army, others came who, while not always a wholesome influence on Utah's morals, did their part in keeping the Army's wealth in circulation. Overnight, Fairfield and Camp Floyd became the third-largest city in the territory (after Salt Lake and Provo), with a population said to exceed 7,000.
Seventeen saloons, with their accouterment of gamblers, prostitutes, slickers, and thieves opened in "Frogtown" or "Dobieville" to accommodate the soldiers. One contemporary said that the main street of Fairfield "has the appearance of a California mining town of the palmy days of '50, the front street being lined with Drinking and Gambling Saloons." Shootings and murders were common occurrences in the town.
John Carson took advantage of his early location to build an inn, which replaced a stone fort enclosing log and adobe houses in which his family had lived. By refusing to cater to a rowdy clientele, Carson was able to fill the adobe and frame two-story structure with prominent visitors and actors and actresses en route to California. (It is said that Carson not only refused to serve liquor, but also proscribed "round dancing" in his place.)
After Captain J. H. Simpson, senior engineer at Camp Floyd, laid out a route to California, Carson's inn became the first major stop outside Salt Lake City for stagecoaches and the Pony Express. ...
Various activities helped to fill the spare time of the soldiers. For those men who were interested in cultural activities, a German singing club erected a social hall, and the base opened its own dramatic association with female leads imported from Salt Lake City or performed by laundresses from the post.
A soldiers' circus company with acrobatic and equestrian acts gave a number of performances. Military personnel from Camp Floyd organized Utah's first Masonic lodge, and post officers erected a billiard hall, held dances and balls, and enjoyed horse racing.
The camp operated a school for enlisted men. And one officer, Captain John W. Phelps, busied himself with observing desert whirlwinds, electric phenomena, and cloud formations; in studying the Bible in English and German; and in learning the Shoshonean language. Another officer sketched and painted various scenes of Camp and Army life, copied photographs of his family in oils, and speculated on perpetual motion.
If enough decent women could not be found to dance at the balls, officers on occasion waltzed and polkaed together, making believe that one was the lady. Some, on occasion, found diversion in a trip to Salt Lake City. Some spent time during 1858 and 1859 prospecting for silver, lead, and gold. Evidence shows that the first claims filed in Tooele County were not filed by Patrick Connor's California Volunteers, as is usually claimed, but by members of the Utah Expedition. Still others planted a 40-acre tract of farming land to garden stuffs and crops and took turns irrigating and hoeing.
For a long period of time, there was no chaplain in camp, a situation which at least one observer deplored. Captain Simpson held religious services for the troops at times when he was in camp, but it was not until the summer of 1859 that a permanent chaplain was selected. The fact that the new man of God was a Catholic did not please some of the more devout Protestants.
In spite of these diversions, life at this Great Basin outpost was anything but pleasant. Soldiers were far from families and loved ones, and mail required 22 days or more to come from the states. The diet of the soldiers was adequate and even somewhat varied, but diarrhea was common and some suffered discomforts brought on by a "vile sort of beer ... vended by the Mormons ... ." Pay was poor at $11 per month for privates and often overdue at that. Desertion among troops sent to the hills as herders or wood choppers was common, and some joined emigrant trains bound for California.
Physical conditions at the post contributed to the discomfort of the men. The chimneys in many of the cabins smoked as a result of improper construction. Water was scarce, and within camp limits all was "dust, dust, dust." At times cloudbursts flooded the camp, but dust storms, which some of the men called "Johnsoons" in honor of the post commander, were the usual bill of fare.
Prisoners had an even worse life, as they were required to carry balls and chains and often forced to exercise with large sacks of sand or logs of wood strapped to their backs.
In addition to the duties which kept them near camp, soldiers also ranged away from the post for various reasons. Troops were detached to escort immigrant trains underway for California or to capture horse thieves. Patrols encountered problems with the Indians, and battles took place at various points including Box Elder Creek and Spanish Fork Canyon.
At the time Camp Floyd formed the largest troop concentration of its kind in the United States. The troops operated 1,100 miles from their home base at Fort Leavenworth, and throughout 1858 and 1859 the number of soldiers on the post averaged more than 2,400, though the number rose at times to more than 3,000.
In 1860 General Johnston was transferred back to the states, and Colonel Philip St. George Cooke assumed command of Camp Floyd. (Cooke had been leader of the "Mormon Battalion" as it marched from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to San Diego, California, in 1846-47.) Acting under orders from the War Department, Colonel Cooke cut the post complement down to 10 companies, or about 700 men.
As one might imagine, the personal relationships between Floyd's inhabitants and the Mormons, whom they had come to suppress, were not always friendly. One major area of friction centered on the herding of livestock. ...
Governor Alfred Cumming, with whom Johnston's relations were also strained, tried to take the Mormon side in several of these conflicts. He protested Johnston's use of Rush Valley in defiance of Mormon squatters, and Johnston, in an ill-tempered response, finally allowed that the Mormons might graze in the northern end of the valley.
Cumming also remonstrated at the friction caused when Judge John Cradlebaugh persuaded Johnston to send troops to Provo during a particularly controversial session of court, an act which understandably frightened the local townspeople. ...
If diary accounts are any indication, the opinion which the soldiers had of the Mormon people was extremely low, and several incidents which took place served to bolster these prejudices. ...
The troops saw the results of the Mountain Meadows massacre when skulls were brought in from the scene, a detachment was sent to the site to bury the remains of the victims, and children who had escaped the tragedy were taken by Dragoons from Utah to Fort Laramie and Fort Kearney. In addition a young Mormon named David McKenzie was found guilty of counterfeiting U.S. Quartermaster drafts, and he had, according to testimony, secured the paper from the tithing office in Salt Lake City where some of the counterfeit certificates were actually found.
On the other hand the troops and camp followers were responsible for the inauguration of problems which had adverse affects on the Mormon community. Some officers tried to induce women to go to Camp Floyd to engage in prostitution, and one officer actually sought to proposition the mistress of a household in which he was a guest. Camp followers and troops often made nuisances of themselves in Salt Lake City and other settlements, and some murders resulted from the activities of these men.
Church leaders worry
The influence of the church in the moral lives of its members was undermined as some members, under the new temptations offered by Gentiles, threw off the restraints of their religious upbringing. The church leadership was so concerned that Wilford Woodruff of the Council of Twelve Apostles exhorted the church membership to restrain themselves and not to mingle with the wicked.
This is not to say that there were not some pleasant associations. Relations with some Army officers such as Colonel E. B. Alexander, Captain Randolph B. Marcy, and Colonel Philip St. George Cooke were quite agreeable. Associations with them were actually better than with most of the government officials. On at least one occasion, the chaplain from Fort Laramie, on the way to Camp Floyd, spoke to the Saints in the tabernacle.
Despite the sources of friction between the Army and the local citizenry and government, the Utah Expedition was undoubtedly a boon to Utah's economy. Not only could the Utahns sell goods and services for specie or trade for items which they otherwise would have obtained only at great cost and difficulty, but they were able to purchase back the same goods and many more at give-away prices during the first war-surplus sale in Utah history. ...
On May 17, 1861, the War Department ordered Colonel Cooke to take the rest of his troops and leave Fort Crittenden (as the post had been renamed when its namesake, John B. Floyd, defected to the South). Before leaving, Cooke was ordered to dispose of everything on the post to the best advantage of the government.
At the sales which followed this order, about $4 million worth of supplies sold for $100,000. One of the principal buyers was Brigham Young who, through his agent and son-in-law H. B. Clawson, paid about $40,000 for the things which he obtained. ...
The effect of this windfall may be gauged from the fact that the value of goods sold amounted to approximately $400 per Utah family. This meant that the government sold about twice Utah's annual income per family at a cost of about five per cent of the annual income.
The Mormons might complain of their inequitable treatment [over grazing] ... or the presence of troops in Provo, but the federal government was forced under the circumstances to make ample reparation.
Before the departure of the Expedition, Cooke disposed of everything which could not be sold. The Army took surplus munitions from the fort and blew them up, while they razed houses and buildings. When the last of the troops left Utah, on July 27, 1861, Colonel Cooke presented the camp flagpole to Brigham Young.
By September 2, only 18 families remained at the once-roaring town of Fairfleld. The adobe walls washed into little mounds of earth, and even the stone walls were carried away for use in constructing foundations for houses in Fairfield and Lehi.
Since the abandonment of Camp Floyd, its residents have been the 84 officers and men who died at the post. The land itself remained on the War Department records until July 22, 1884, when the secretary of war turned it over to the Interior Department for disposal. The Army retained only the cemetery after December 1892, when the Interior Department opened the land for homesteading. ...
After the post was abandoned, John Carson stayed on to operate his inn. After his death, his widow and children continued to run the hostelry until it became unprofitable; it was closed in 1947. In January 1958 John Carson's son, Warren Carson, of Orem, turned the inn over to the Utah State Park and Recreation Commission for preservation as a museum.
Beginning in June 1959 the commission began a program of development of the Camp Floyd historic park. The old cemetery was planted with sod, 84 veterans who are buried there were identified and markers placed, the old Army commissary was restored, and the Stagecoach Inn was rebuilt and decorated to the period of its founding. The inn was officially dedicated and opened to the public on May 16, 1964.
Utah State Historical Society: On the Web at www.history.utah.gov, or phone 801-533-3500.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page B2.