Contributor: deacent Created: 9 months ago Updated: 9 months ago
CYRUS SNELL -, Eaton, Carroll, New Hampshire. Just how he met Rhoda Barnes, a native of Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada has not been determined, but they were probably married when she was 17 years old in 1832. Their first child, George Washington Snell, was born 2 July 1833 in Rhoda’s hometown. The second child, John Wesley Snell, was born at West Prospect, Hancock County, Maine, October 5, 1834. And then they move back to Sackville where the rest of the family was born.
( See family group sheet for dates of birth of the other five children.) Lucy Hannah, the only girl was born February 8, 1846 and lived just a little over five years.
Quoting from a story written by Joseph Herbert Snell, a great-grandson of Cyrus, and the youngest son of John Wesley Snell we learn the following:
Cyrus was a prosperous manufacture of textiles, owning and operating a woolen, spinning and weaving factory. their parents taught them the great lessons of life in the family circle. (John W. speaking) Rhoda was particularly desirous of education for her son's. They attended the neighborhood schools and received a good education, considering the schools of the day. But this did not satisfy her, so they moved to Lowell, Massachusetts in 1849, to send the children to an advanced school. John W. left school at the age of 16 and went to work with his father in the woolen mill. He worked in various jobs and later became supervisor of the dying department.
While family was still in Sackville, in 1836, Lumen E. Johnson, Milton Holmes and John Merritt, Mormon missionaries, came with the great message of a restored gospel. It struck a responsive chord in the hearts of the Snell family. They are of the blood of Israel and they embrace the gospel and were baptized. The Elders used the woolen mills as an improvised church and the Snell home as headquarters. They converted many people of the surrounding territory to the gospel. One of the converts later became an apostle.
The spirit of the gathering of Israel and western migration influence the Snell family. They made every effort to join the Saints in Utah. They were prosperous and had a favorable business, but they gave it all to the urge of their ideals and convictions. Some difficulty was experienced in disposing of their property. But in April 1853 they set their faces toward the setting sun and started on the long weary journey Utah.
Their pilgrimage was broken by a years visit with the Barnes family, relatives of Rhoda, and at that time members of the church. For a while they were tempted to locate in Wisconsin, but that was not the land of Zion, and Rhoda insisted upon continuing the journey. The time was spent in preparing goods, wagons, and teams for the remainder of the trip.
The second and a longest part of their migration started April 22, 1854. They were well prepared for a long trip, with three covered wagons, ten ox teams and a light spring wagon hitched to a team of chestnut brown mares. Rhoda drove the latter team across the plains and mountains to Utah. They also brought with them and 30 head of cattle. John W. had charge of the cattle and Cyrus and the younger boys drove the ox teams.
Travel of the family was unique in that they travel alone instead of in one of the usual companies. However, they were preceeded by a company of United States soldiers going to Oregon. The Soldiers were help and comfort to them. They traded fresh milk from a herd to the soldiers in exchange for food.
At the Elk Horn River they met Ely S. Williams and family who were stranded there because of a loss of their teams to the Indians. The Snell's helped this family to Utah by hitching up some of their loose stock for work animals.
The journey was without the unusual hardships or accident, although they experienced a few Indian scarce. At one time when there were, approximately, half way to Utah, they were surprised when a band of about 20 Indians surrounded them. But the Indians were not hostile and the chief made signs and gestures indicating that they wanted gifts and some food. Rhoda gave them each a cup of sugar from a chest in the front seat of the wagon. She tied some more in a blanket for the chief. This was a new food for the Indians, and was probably the first time they had tasted sugar. They enjoyed it, showed their appreciation and rode off. The chest, which contained the sugar, is still in the family. (about 1940)
The hours of travel were from 4:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m., rest was taken to 11 A.M., and then the march was continued until 3:00 p.m. This gave the stock plenty of time for feeding and they were in excellent condition when they reached Salt Lake City. The family followed the old Mormon trail by way of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the Platte river. After four months on the trail they arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah August 27th, 1854.
The Snell's first settled in Salt Lake City residing in the Seventh Ward until preparations could be made for them to move to Spanish Fork, Utah were Cyrus had purchased a farm and had made plans to settled permanently.
John W. was now 20 years of age and the first of a family to arrive in Spanish Fork, having left Salt Lake City in September with the cattle that had brought across the plains. He made his camp in a "Dug out" on the brow of a hill on what was later known as the Al Dimick lot, just about a block east of where he afterward built his home and lived most of the time until his death. At the same place camped Orville and Martha Simmons, relatives of the Snell family. At this time the main settlement was sent Palmyra, 2 mile west of the present town site. John W. and the Simmons' family were the first people to live outside of the fort at Palmyra in what is now Spanish Fork proper.
In the early spring of 1855 the rest of a family came from Salt Lake City. They live in town, although Cyrus had bought a farm from Enoch Reese, located about a mile and half of southeast of Spanish Fork in the upper bottoms. The first year the family planted about 30 acres of wheat, but only harvested about 15 bushels due to a grasshopper infestation. It was a time of hunger, hardship and anxiety. The Indians were troublesome. They each had to take turns at guarding the crops, cattle and settlers from surprise attacks from the Indians.
When Father Escalante first sighted the Utah Valley in 1776 he called it " the smiling valley of God ". And indeed so it seemed to these newcomers. The bench was covered with a bunch grass and bluegrass, and the river bottom of was a natural meadow of high red top grass. The cottonwood trees grow along the river bottoms added to the beauty of the wild majestic scene. In the distance the great purple mountains were reflected in the mirror of Utah Lake.
Just when, the family, built their little adobe home I don’t know, but it was a typical 1½ story house with a porch on the front and the slope on the back or the kitchen and pantry. Rhoda had given birth to seven children before their move to Utah, but only five boys had survived. William the youngest went insane and was kept locked in room in the house. The attic was the bedroom for the boys.
The Cyrus Snell Home – Spanish Fork, Utah
This is the little “Dobie” house that Cyrus Snell built prior to 1857. It was in that year that he “consecrated” all his property to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including his house and everything in it. He lived here from the time they came into the Valley in the year 1855, until his death in 1873. His wife, Rhoda, lived for 27 years after the death of her husband and died in 1900.
There was a picket fence around the lot, a barn and corral for the stock and feed. Almost as soon as they stop their wagons, they started planting a garden. Cuttings for fruit trees were secured as they journeyed through the older settlement of Provo, and soon there were peaches and plums and apples and cherries and pairs growing in this bounteous land. Red currants and black currants and gooseberries grew on the fence lines and ditch banks. In the early spring strawberries braced their table, covered with rich cream from the family cows.
In the garden almost anything would grow -- potatoes and corn and peas and beans and onions and radishes. Also they had asparagus and carrots and turnips. If there was anything they liked, all they had to do was to plant it.
There was always the beef to kill, and much of it was hung in the shed to dry -- a trick they had learn from the Indians. In the fall and winter it was hog killing time. The hams and shoulders and bacon were smoked in their own little smokehouse. Or maybe they were pickled in brine in large wooden barrels.
One delicacy they never tired of was gravy made from salted codfish. Of course the fish had to be freighted clear from the Missouri River, but it was just a little touch of New England that they could have occasionally, and feel it was a little part of "Home".
They entered wholeheartedly into the life of the community, and were soon bearing their share of responsibility of home rule. Cyrus was one of the first City Councilman, of Spanish Fork. And Rhoda was the first President of the Relief Society, a position she held for 14 years.
To quote from Rhoda:
"In the year of 1857, September 14th, I was called and set apart to preside over the first Ward Relief Society, which was at that time organized by Bishop John Butler, his counselors and President John Young, or Uncle John as he was commonly called. He told us that we must go work and organize something out of nothing, and it came as near to that as you could call it. The organization was completed by calling the following officers: President Rhoda Snell, first counselor Sarah Butler, second the councilor Augusta Wilkins, secretary treasurer Catherine Hawks.
Soon after the organization we were called upon to throw in our mite towards equipping our husbands and sons as soldiers to withstand the flower of the United States Army, who were coming upon us with the avowed intention of hanging our leaders and exterminating us. We did the best we could by making hair ropes out of cattle hair, by carding and spinning it, and twisting it into ropes; making quilts out of small pieces which we had brought with us across the plains; making clothing out of old wagon covers, sacks and in some cases out of our under clothing, spinning our scanty supply of wool and weaving it in the cloth; gathering all scraps of tin, such as our wash boiler lids, to make tin cups for them, and in every way that willing hands could find employment. Thus making something out of nothing as Uncle John had told us. So we continued for 14 years to help the poor and the needy as best we could until the Society was reorganized with Catherine Wilkins as president".
Rhoda was the first woman in the community to foster the silk industry. She had many silk worms, which she kept on trays under beds and they were fed on mulberry leaves gathered from the trees in the yard or the neighborhood. It must've been comforting being lulled to sleep by the munching of hundreds of silkworms under your bed.
Days of laboring on the farm, digging irrigation ditches and logging in the canyon, kept family busy for the next few years. But in spite of all the hard work there was time for relaxation, holding husking bees, dancing all night, or going on picnics to the canyons. There were also dramatic societies organized which produced plays. Picture young man taking his girl to the show and lugging along a small bag of wheat or a dozen eggs, or perhaps a gallon of milk and a pound of butter to pay for their tickets.
One story that still remains in the family was how Rhoda used to care for all the needs of her first son William who had to be kept locked up all the time. One day she unlocked the door to go into his room and he sprang at her and started to choke her. She pleaded with him until he finally released her. I never did find out how long this condition continued.
Much of the written information, which is left to us, has to do with Rhoda. She must have been a woman of great faith and with a singleness of purpose in her determination to be with the Saints, and live the gospel. But even though little has remained of the doings of Cyrus there is one document, which we have, that will verify the strength of his convictions.
Here is one item of great interest to me in the life of Cyrus Snell. In 1857, the same year that Rhoda was made President of the Relief Society there was an effort to start at the United Order in Spanish Fork. Cyrus dedicated all he had to the cause. He consecrated his entire estate, by deed, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints.
I have a copy of this instrument, which lists his lots with his home, his farm, his household goods, his farming equipment, his livestock, and all his feed for his stock. "Two watches and two guns, beds, bedding and one stove". So here they were withholding nothing from the service of the "Kingdom of God". With such devotion is it any wonder that Zion must grow.