Robert White by Bruce White
Contributor: Kath3spin Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
THE STORY OF ROBERT WHITE
BY BRUCE W WHITE, A GREAT GRANDSON
Robert White was born on the twenty first of November 1835, in Heartsgrove, Astabula Co., Ohio, the son of Joseph White, who was born on May 30, 1801, in Boston, Suffolk, Co. Massachusetts, and Ruby Elnora Stearns, who was born in Kendingston, Conneticut.
As this family was living in Ohio there were other children; Sarah Elnora White, born 18, Nov. 1831, Ira Banks White, born 18 Feb. 1839, and Irene White, born 26 June 1840. Robert was the second child in the family, plus, there were two other children born into this family after they moved to Illinois.
While living in Ohio, Robert's father, Joseph White, heard the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ at the hand of two Mormon missionaries. He believed the words they spoke and was baptized into the church. His wife, Ruby Elnora, investigated for almost two years before she was baptized, but she did and was baptized by Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
At this time the Mormons had made their principle settlement in Kirtland, Ohio, which is about 20 or 30 miles from Heartsgrove. In 1836 almost all of the Saints left Ohio, leaving only a few, Martin Harris, being one of those few. The main body of the church moved to Missouri, and then sent missionaries back to Ohio to make a great effort to bring others into the faith. It was during this period of Missionary activity that Joseph White and his family became members of the church.
After the Church was driven from Missouri, back to Illinois, a plea was made by the First Presidency of the Church, under the direction of Hyrum Smith, second counselor, to bring in all the Saints that lived in Ohio, to have them help build up the church in Illinois. It was at this time that Joseph White moved his family to Hancock Co. Illinois. At this time there was a great deal of open prairie land to be claimed, or purchased for farming land. This is where Joseph White brought his family to settle, a few miles to the Southeast of the new Mormon city of Nauvoo.
Robert's older sister, Sarah Elnora, became a playmate of the daughter of the jailer at the Carthage Jail. The story is told of how they would sit in the window of the jailer's bedroom and swing their legs over the edge of the window. It was this window, out of which the Prophet Joseph Smith jumped, hoping to save the lives of his brethren, who were still in the room. The well, by the side of which, the prophet died, was just below this window.
Robert, as a little boy, was held on the lap of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He remembered, that the prophet, with his party, on the way to surrender to the "supposed" protection of the Governor of the state, stopped at the White farm to get a drink of water from the well. He held little Robert on his lap, and told him that he should always be a good boy, and remember that the Church was true. At this time he was eleven years old.
During the time that the White's lived in the Carthage, Illinois area they had two additional children born to them. The first was Moses, born the 14th of July and passing away on the 22nd of July in 1841. The second child also died as an infant, his name was Joseph S. White. He was born on the 22nd of December 1843, and dying on the 2nd of April 1844. This must have been a very difficult time for the family. As a matter of fact, little Irene, who had been born in Ohio died on the 22nd of May in 1841. This means that the White family lost two of their children within two months, then another just three years later. During this period of time there were many people who died from Malaria. Medicine not being advanced, and with no knowledge that a mosquito carried the disease, many became afflicted and died from this disease. Many others died from Cholera, which was rampant in those times. These diseases preyed mostly upon the young and old. These were just children. From first hand knowledge I know how difficult it is to lose a child to death. To have three of your children taken from you in the short space of three years must have been a sad time indeed. Infant death was much more common in those days than it is now, but parents have not ever had less love for their children in one era than another. It must have been a great blow to lose a child for these parents.
Robert's father was a member of the Nauvoo Legion. This was a militia force of almost 5000 men. It was the largest militia in the United States. The only military body that was larger was the United States army. Before the Prophet was martyred, the state ordered the Legion to surrender all their state owned arms. In this way, the Saints became un-armed, and at the mercy of other military force. After the martyrdom, the enemies of the Church thought that the church would scatter and no longer be a force among the people. The opposite was true, however, and the members of the church became more certain in their determination to build up the Lord's Kingdom on the earth. When the enemies saw that this was so they became more alarmed than ever, and they strengthened their resolve to drive the church from Illinois. More mobs were organized and they began to attack the holdings of the members of the church that lived any distance at all away from Nauvoo. Joseph White was one of these people who lived away from Nauvoo. Joseph brought his family into the city for a period of time. His history says that during much of the time that the mobs were persecuting the people, that Joseph had his family at a place called Bear Creek. According to the book, "Mormon Geography," Bear Creek was a settlement that was located Southwest of Carthage, a long distance from Nauvoo. Here the mobs came and drove the White family to a neighbor's farm. They hid in a cellar by night to avoid the mobs. The record says that they went two weeks without even being able to take their clothes off.
After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith the church was left without a leader. Sidney Rigdon, estranged from the church, but still the first counselor in the first presidency, came to Nauvoo to have himself declared as the "Guardian of the Church." As Brigham Young and the rest of the Twelve gathered back to Nauvoo, from their missions, it was decided that a conference of the church would be held in the Grove at Nauvoo. At this conference both Brigham Young and Sidney Rigdon spoke and stated their beliefs as to how the leadership of the church should be passed. As Brigham stood and explained that Joseph had given the keys of the kingdom to the Twelve, he was transfigured before the crowd gathered there. As Brigham spoke he appeared to have the features and speech of Joseph the Prophet. The people saw this as the passing of the prophetic mantle from Joseph to Brigham. Robert White, eleven years old, was present in this large crowd of people. Throughout the rest of his life he testified of this great occasion and had a firm testimony of the leadership of Brigham Young. A legacy left to his posterity. A beautiful testimony, from a small boy.
I have tried to imagine the feelings of a twelve year old boy. He must have been terribly frightened for those many days. This was a time that little boys were called on to be men. The fathers were gone to protect the city of Nauvoo, and children were left to do chores and make the harvest that was there. This must have been a frightening, and painful time for this family, as well as for all members of the church who lived in the Nauvoo area. Eventually the White family moved into the city of Nauvoo and bought a city lot. They must have felt that things were going to improve, and the Mormons were going to be able to remain in Illinois. At this time the White family must have hoped for some security in their lives. This was not to be, however, and mob pressure increased. Along with everyone else in Nauvoo, the White family disposed of their property in Nauvoo as best they could, and prepared to follow Brigham Young and the rest of the Twelve into the Western wilderness.
For most of the members of the church, the journey across Iowa was a terrible ordeal. The weather was totally un-cooperative, the ground froze and thawed slowing the progress of the saints for long periods of time. Finally the White family arrived at the camp on the Iowa side of the Missouri River. The morning after they arrived Robert's father went down into the camp and found that the U.S. Army was recruiting a battalion of 500 men from among the Latter-Day Saints. He went ahead and enlisted. Joseph's name being the 89th man of 100 in company A of the Mormon Battalion. When he returned to the camp and told his good wife what he had done, she fainted. After all the other things that they had experienced, now her husband was going away to war, and who would know if he would return to her.
In his great wisdom, Brigham Young, called several men to be Bishops, to administer to the needs of the families of the Battalion members. The Bishop the White's were assigned to was Bishop Daniel Miller. Research has shown that he was one of the Battalion Bishops. He directed several of the men to build a cabin for Ruby Elnora and her family. She was blessed in the fact that her cabin had two rooms. One was for her family, and the other was a school room. Ruby Elnora had been a school teacher before marriage, and now she would return to that profession to support her family while her husband was away. The families that sent children to this school paid for their children to be educated with flour, meat, or other produce. I'm sure that Robert and his brothers and sister would have attended that school. While the father of the home was away, it was Robert's responsibility to make certain that wood was cut, fires built, and the other chores that a father would normally do fell on these young shoulders.
Finally in the early fall of 1847 the members of the Battalion returned to the Mormon communities on the Missouri River. This must have been a time of great rejoicing for the White family. The father was home and the family now complete again, now preparations could be made for the move to the West. The families of the Battalion did receive some extra consideration for their service. The brethren were able to keep their arms and while a great deal of their pay went to the general church fund, the soldiers were able to keep some of the money that they earned. I'm sure that Joseph White was able to use some of his army pay to outfit his family for their journey to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. During the winter months it appears that Ruby Elnora continued to teach school, and Joseph probably worked at other occupations to get his family outfitted for the trek across the plains to Utah. It took Joseph White many months to get his family ready to leave Council Bluffs. Finally another man brought a wagon if he would carry groceries for him across the plains. So it was that the White family had two wagons with two yoke of oxen on one wagon and two yoke of oxen and two cows on the other wagon.
They left Council Bluffs in April of 1849 in the wagon train over which Captain Gully was the captain of 100. The captain of their Fifty was Captain Vanderfoot, and Captain McCarthy was head of their company of 10. So the Whites came to Utah under the organization of the Camp of Israel.
Robert, now a lad of 12, had the assignment to herd cattle during the afternoon, and to drive the oxen on one wagon in the morning. His sister, Sarah Elnora, had the opposite shift from him.
During the trip Robert's father, Joseph was stricken with cholera. He was overdosed with a drug, probably laudanum, which caused him to sleep for three days. They had him prepared for burial but finally woke up and fully recovered from the disease.
One stream of water encountered on the trip required very careful fording. Robert was driving the wagon and his father was following behind. The oxen on the wagon Robert was driving started to go out into the deep part of the stream. His father yelled to jump on the back of the lead ox and turn them back into the course. With the aid of his Heavenly Father, Robert was able to jump safely on the back of the ox and in a miraculous way, turn the oxen in the right direction, in so doing, saved the lives of all concerned.
The journey to the "Valley", took four months, finally the pioneers reached Salt Lake City. Joseph took his family and went north to Farmington. In reading the history of Farmington, it was stated that there were many members of the "A" Company of the Mormon Battalion that settled in Farmington. Joseph White was among this group, and the history of Farmington makes mention of the fact that this family was among the first people to settle in this community. Farmington is one of the oldest settlements outside of Salt Lake City, and the White family were some of the original pioneers in this community. Here Joseph White took up a land claim, built a small log cabin, and cleared, plowed and planted to wheat one acre of ground.
The land around Farmington is good quality farm ground. These first pioneers had the most choice pick of the available ground. Their biggest problem had to be the huge sage brush that was growing on most of the ground in that area. The other problem was water, which has always been a major concern. Ditches had to be dug and these people had to have experienced some problems in irrigation. They had no experience in this area, and everything they did was by trial and error.
Robert White, as a young man, surely was able to help dig ditches, canals, and do his part to help irrigate this ground. In the spring of 1850 President Brigham Young called two apostles and a few other men to go to California and search for gold which the church could use to purchase the things it was desperately in need of. Parley Pratt and Amasa Lyman were the Apostles assigned to this task. On the appointed day the "Gold Missionaries" were to leave approximately 100 extra men showed up to go with the brethren who had been called. Joseph White was one of these extra men who went to California with the Gold Mission. At least as far as I can find from available accounts Joseph White did not have a call to go on this mission, but his old captain from Battalion days, Capt. Jefferson Hunt, was called to go on this mission, and remained in San Bernardino, California until 1857.
The gold mission was not successful as far as the search for gold was concerned, but the harvest of souls was great. Most of the gold missionaries were able to find a little gold, but not much more than enough to sustain themselves. The draw back was that many of these people contracted diseases that were not controllable and brought them back to their homes with them. Joseph White appears to be one of these souls. He came home from California, harvested his crop of wheat and fell ill. He passed away in Salt Lake City, and was buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery. What circumstances brought about his being in Salt Lake and not in Farmington are not clear, but he may have been working there on one of the Public Works projects sponsored by the Church.
The death of his father left Robert as the man of the house. At this time his sister was still at home, not married, and his youngest brother Ira was still alive, his death coming in 1853. This was a very great blow to this family for certain. The loss of the bread winner was even more devastating then than it would be now. The welfare system of the church was not in place, and most of the people were near starvation anyway. The struggle to survive for the White family must have a frightening thing. Since Robert spent much time in his early life working on Public Works projects it could be fairly safely assumed that this is where Robert went so that he could get the commodities to help his mother to sustain their family. Franklin "D" White, Robert's son, said that his father spent time in the building of the wall around Temple Square in Salt Lake City. This was done as a Public Works project began in the early 1850's. The timing of this would lend itself to the fact that this is probably where young Robert White would be spending a lot of his time. Public Works employees were paid in commodities, such as flour, potatoes, chickens, or whatever else were paid into the Bishop's Storehouse as tithing, and then paid out to those who were employed in the "Public Works Projects".
Robert's sister, Sarah Elnora, married a young man by the name of James Stevenson, before 1852, about the time she turned 21 years of age. She and her husband lived with Robert and his mother and brother for about a year. In 1853, she and her husband moved into their own home in Farmington. The next year, 1854 brought the death of Robert's only surviving brother, Ira Banks White, on the 7th of September. This left just two the six children of Joseph and Ruby Elnora White alive. At this time Robert would have been 19 years old.
In 1857 the Mormons were informed that the United States was sending an army to Utah to suppress a non-existent rebellion. Brigham Young, as territorial governor, called a great number of men, mostly unmarried, to arms against this invasion force. A scorched earth policy was engaged, and these men burned off a great deal of prairie across Wyoming, so the army would not have sufficient feed for its livestock. The possibility that Robert White was one of the young men called to deter the army is most likely. Though there is no information to substantiate this it is in real possibility that this happened. If not the army, then he would most certainly have been called to assist in the "Move South". As Johnston's Army came to Utah, President Young had all of the Saints move to locations South of the Salt Lake Valley. Those who were in the south went further, and those in the North moved to take over what was left by those who went further south. The history of Sarah Elnora White Stevenson says that their family moved to Springville. The possibility that Ruby Elnora White moved to this location is quite good also. What Robert's participation in this event may have been has not been recorded, but the fact that he had some participation in this movement is assured. After the Mormons were able to reach a treaty with the U.S. Government, the army went in to Cedar Valley and built a camp, and the members of the church were able to return to their homes.
In 1858 the church made a decision not to bring any more people to Zion in handcart companies. The cost in human lives was too great, and the time had come when the Saints in Zion were able to produce more than they required to stay alive. In order to get the surplus to eastern markets, the Church decided to go into the freight business. So the concept of the Church Trains was inaugurated. The Church sent wagon makers to the Chicago area to build freight wagons that could be converted to haul passengers, and strong enough to make several trips back and forth across the plains. The saints in Utah then would contract with the Church freight service to haul their produce east. This was mostly in the form of wheat or other grains, flour, leather, harness or other leather products, and other types of home industry goods, plus there was a great deal of livestock sent east, cattle, sheep and horses, mostly draft animals. The return trip meant that the church trains would pick up immigrating saints in Iowa City, Iowa and bring them on west to Utah. In this way the trains were loaded both ways and the costs for both freight and passage were reduced by a significant amount.
The human part of this great immigration effort was to be handled by brethren called by church to direct the "Church Trains", and most of the drivers would be young un-married men. Un-married men, were chosen for two different reasons. First, these men would not be leaving families that would need to be taken care of during the long season that the men would be gone. They would be leaving the valley as early in the spring as possible, when the canyons were free from snow and there would be sufficient grass to feed the animals, the trains would leave, and they would not return until fall. So these men would be gone for nearly five months. Second, the immigrating Saints would bring families, including single women, single sisters coming to Zion. The hope of the church leaders was that these single men would find wives among the young women who were coming west.
For this reason, the leaders of the church called the young men who would drovers and teamsters to the position of Seventies in the Priesthood and asked each of them to go to Endowment House and receive their Endowment, as a protection to them. Robert White was one of these young men who went on the "Church Trains", and he was endowed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, on March the 3rd, of 1858 when he was Twenty-two years of age.
This must have been a very interesting time in Robert's life. He was able to make the trip east at least once each year for several years. He was able to see some of the cities of the eastern part of the country, which he had left when he was quite young. It would have difficult to maintain a great deal of activity in the church during these long journeys, and perhaps this is the time that Robert became dis-associated with the main stream of activity in the church. There must have been many young women that Robert could have been associated with on these trips, but he didn't find any women that interested him enough to marry. He must have been a good worker, because he was able to make this trip several times. For at least four years during the time that the Church Trains ran the United States was involved in the Civil War. Robert may have seen a great many things of interest during these years of war. Perhaps even, he may have been on one of the wagon trains that Amy Evans, her uncle and brother and sister crossed the plains on. Not knowing that in several years this little girl would become his wife.
Not much else is known about the life of Robert White during the next few years. How many trips that he made with the Church Trains is not recorded any place that I am aware of. It is not even certain if he farmed his mother's farm or not either.
According to the plat of the early development of Farmington, Utah, there was more than one White family living in this community. In looking for the places that may have been the White family home I looked at three different locations. The one that would seem to be the most reliable is on the road that goes from Centerville to Farmington. The house is at 1367 South on this road. A small brick house that sits on the east side of the street. The hill makes a very sharp rise in this area, and the house sits about 20 or more feet above the level of the street. Along the main road there is a brick wall about four feet in height going all the way across the front of the property. The house was probably built in the late 1860's. Whether this is truly the original property or not I can only guess at this point. Perhaps more research later will prove to be beneficial and provide more accurate information on this point. One thing that we can be sure of is that during these years Robert helped his mother to have the necessities of life. There is some thought that Ruby Elnora White remarried during this time, but at present that cannot be substantiated.
Ruby Elnora White passed away in at Farmington, Utah some time during the year of 1875. She is buried in the cemetery there.
During that same year of 1875, on July the 5th, Robert White married Amy Evans, a Welch immigrant who came to United States with her brother, sister, and an Uncle in 1864, when she was just 8 years old. Her father and step-mother were to come later, but they never made it to America. Where this girl grew up is not certain. Some say she grew up in Salt Lake City, some in Mona, down in Juab County. Where or what ever place she grew up, she married Robert White in Farmington, Davis County. If she was living there, or if Robert White brought her there may never be known. Maybe they lived in his mother's old house there. This would certainly be a good surmise. For what ever reasons there may have been. This Forty year old bachelor wooed and won the heart of an Eighteen year girl from Wales. They made a marriage that lasted the balance of their lives.
On the Ninth day of March in 1877, Robert and Amy became the parents of a baby boy. They named him Robert Ira White. Robert for his father, and Ira for his father's brother, Ira Banks White who died in 1854. Then, in 1878, for reasons not known to anyone now living, Robert took his little family and moved to the Bear Lake Country, to a small farming community called Georgetown, Idaho. This was a newer community than Farmington, and may have been more of a pioneering opportunity that was being looked for by Robert White.
William Henry White, or Uncle Will as he was known by all the family, was born in Georgetown on the Twenty-first on September in 1879 at Georgetown, Idaho. In 1882, on the 15th of May, the White family received their first daughter. They named her Florence Elnora, after her grandmother White. She was also born at Georgetown, Idaho.
In the year of 1883, Robert and Amy moved their family back to Farmington, Utah. The reason for this move has never been documented to my knowledge. But they did return to the community where Robert had lived for most of his life. Then in 1884 they once again moved. This time they went south to the small community of Mona, in Juab county. Mona is a tiny town setting in the middle of the Juab valley. Surrounded by semi-flat ground, good for raising of grain and grazing livestock, these things being followed down to the present time. In this community they lived in a log house, and on the First day of April, 1885, Franklin "D" White was born. The April fool of the White family. Named after his mother's brother, Franklin David Evans, who also lived in Mona.
Shortly after the birth of Frank, the White family moved up the Salt Creek Canyon, and traveled to the very northern-most edge of Sanpete County, to a small, very small, farming community called Indianola. This place being called because there were so many Indians in the area. For a better description of this place let me use some information from the personal history of Franklin "D" White.
“I was blessed in Indianola, 18 October, 1887 (this date was obtained from church records at church archives), by Bishop John Spencer. When I was three years old, my sister Elnora White died of croup very suddenly and I have always had a picture in my mind of something dreadful happening to a beautiful girl with long red hair in ringlets. I may have gotten this impression from hearing people talk about it, but it seems to be a reality to me.
“Then on April 5, 1890 my younger brother Edward Delroy died. I can remember that event very clearly. I remember the home-made casket, and going to the cemetery with father's mules and hard lumber wagon. Those were hard times for poor pioneer folk. At this time there were very many Lamanites in Indianola. More than there were white folk. I can remember very well when mother would see a large cloud of dust rising in the air near the Little Clear Creek Canyon, and would call all the children in, for the Indians were coming.
“We lived two miles out of town on the trail that they always came and went on, and many times some of them would stop and give us children some of the wild berries that they had gathered on their way through the mountains. They always seemed friendly with us, yet we were always afraid of them. I can't remember very much about that early period of my life. Just one more thing.
“When I was about five years old, my mother took a trip to Salt Lake City to visit her sister, Eliza Hills and took me along. I can still feel the jolting of the old wagon over the rocky roads as we come down Thistle Creek Canyon to Thistle Junction to get the train as the railroad was not complete into Sanpete at that early time. Then I remember that the street cars in Salt Lake were drawn by six head of mules. It was a great sight for a small country boy like me. But the thing I remember most was that I stepped on a carpet tack and it went into the side of my foot and made a terrible sore on that foot that I carried for nearly seventy years.
“The place where we lived didn't have any culinary water. So father hauled our water from town in fifty gallon wooden barrels. Yes, we were poor people as far as worldly things were concerned. Shoes to wear were unknown for about eight months a year. But we all had love for one another and plenty of hard work.
“We had to walk two miles to Primary and Church on Sunday. I remember many a time we would see coyotes following us through the sagebrush as we went to school. The first school that I attended was when I was six and a half years old and it was held in a one room round log house with a dirt roof and an open fireplace in one end. I only went there one year as a new ward church was built of brick and they held school in it."
The beautiful girl with long red hair mentioned above was Florence Elnora, she passed away in February, of 1887. She and Edward Deloy, who died in 1890 are buried by their father in the little pioneer cemetery at Indianola. This is small cemetery located about mile west of Indianola on top of a small hill looking over the Indianola valley, about a half a mile east of U.S. Highway 89. It is a pristine site, overgrown with sagebrush and natural growth.
Three children were born to Robert and Amy in Indianola; Edward Deloy on the 12th of September in 1887, Eunice Edna on the 12th of March, 1891, and Clifford Llewellyn 27th of May in 1895.
The little house that Robert and Amy raised their family in still sits in the middle of a corral on the east side of the road that runs from Indianola going south to U.S. Highway 89. It is a wood frame house and has been used as a granary at various times since the White family lived there. Today there are very few people who live in this community. There is no longer a church or a school. The residents that are left, travel to Fairview to church and the elementary school. Junior High and High School students travel to Moroni and Mt. Pleasant for their education.
Indianola is located in a valley of the Wasatch mountains. The elevation is about 6000 feet above sea level. The growing season is short and the winters long and cold. It is difficult to raise tomatoes and other frost easy crops. Most of the people who live there now commute to work in some other place and those who farm raise mostly hay, grain, and graze beef cattle. The sage and cedar grow down low on the hills, and where it is not possible to get irrigation water nothing grows, but natures good cover.
No indians live there now, but once they outnumbered the white residents of this valley. As the pressure of population pushes south, property values in this remote valley have began to escalate and the development of recreation property has filled the south end of the Indianola valley in a place now called Hideaway Valley. Here both year-round people and recreation families live side-by side in the hills that the sons of Robert White once herded sheep and cows. Deer and Elk come down and through this valley on a daily basis, and can be seen almost any time of the year. For the fact that there are people who live here, it is still one of the more pristine parts of the State of Utah. Removed geographically from most of the population, but now feeling the influx of growth. This place is more like it used to be than most places in the state. Indianola began as an outgrowth of the more settled regions of Sanpete out distanced their capacity to supply water and other necessities for the settlers that were there. As a need for more grazing for cattle and sheep became needful, some of the more adventurous souls began to move away from the protection of the forted settlements, and begin to risk the way of life provided away from the towns. Both Milburn and Indianola began as grazing grounds for the more settled population of Fairview. There were large numbers of Indians living in this area during these years, and there had been a great missionary work going on among these native people. Some of them were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When the United States government reached a treaty with the Ute tribe and a reservation was set up in the Uintah Basin, most of the Indian population in Sanpete went there to live. Those who were members of the church, however, were given the right to settle in the area now known as Indianola.
Even though there were white settlers who lived in Indianola, they were displaced to go to some other location, and the land was given to Lamanite "Mormons" for their own. After a few years it was discovered that most of this Indian population were under difficulty living the "white mans" kind of life. Instead of living in the log houses that the settlers had abandoned when they moved, the Indians would live in a tepee to the side of the house. The farms were becoming very run-down, because the Indians did not enjoy farming. Instead they preferred to spend their time hunting and the other pursuits they had survived on for generations.
Most of these people found that they missed their families, and eventually most of them removed to the reservation with the rest of the tribe. This left the Indianola valley with large tracts of open ground that had no one to cultivate it. This all happened during the years 1880-1885. This is finally the answer to this part of the puzzle of the life of Robert White. For many years I have asked myself, how did Robert White come to settle his family in the Indianola Valley. Now the answer is very plain. There was open ground there, for the taking, homestead ground, much of which had already been in production previously, and now was available to those who were energetic and ready for a new adventure. This was not one of the main thrusts of Mormon colonization that was in progress. There was great thrust for outlying settlements in the 1880's, under the direction of President John Taylor. But rather, this was an opportunity to take up where someone else had given up. Consequently, Robert White moved his family up the Salt Creek Canyon, over to Mt. Pleasant and North through Fairview and on up to the tiny settlement of Indianola.
As a mere consequence of some independent research, I have discovered that was established in Indianola a branch of the co-operative movement of the church. These were outgrowths of the estabishment of Zions' Co-operative Mercantile Institution, known today as ZCMI. Each community was urged by the leader of the church to establish such a co-op store. In this way the people who owned the store would be the ones who profited, and not sending the money on its way to some gentile pockets. In the book "BUILDING THE CITY OF GOD", by Leonard Arrington and Dean L. May there is a list of all the cooperative stores establish by the Mormon community. The listing includes a store in Indianola. There is not a date for the establishment of this store, but the co-op stores in Fairview and Mt. Pleasant were established by John Taylor, Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt on May 28 of 1874. It is probably not too far to say that perhaps the Indianola store was established on this date, or very close to it. If this store was still in existence when the White's reached Indianola, I don't know, but this is an interesting side light to this story.
Lying at the northeast edge of the Thistle Valley, Indianola was organized as a ward named by Apostle Erastus Snow in 1880. They numbered over 100 members--half Indians, half Whites. North Sanpeters had herded livestock in the valley even homesteaded there before Brigham Young decided to set up a model Indian farm for Utes not already removed to the Uintah Basin. Eventually the church had to pay $12,000 to induce Whites to vacate the valley. Most of the Utes moved away, died, or simply failed to multiply. The Whites eventually regained the valley that Young had tried to deny them. Most of them lived on their farms rather than locate close to the brick meetinghouse (now a granary) built on the town site. Enough stayed to keep a ward intact until 1926, when it was attached the Milburn Ward (now disbanded and part of Fairview). Sanpete Scenes p. 108
This is the final settling place of the White family. This is where Robert White began to grow old. Being Forty years old when he married in 1875, he was 60 years of age when his youngest child was born. That is an awesome responsibility for a man take on when he is that age. By the time Uncle Cliff was Five years old a new century had dawned and the age of pioneers was really over. Here Robert and Amy saw their children grow to maturity and begin lives of their own. Uncle Ira left home when he was about 17 years old to travel east of the Henry mountains and get a job as horse wrangler for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the Robbers Roost Ranch on the Green River. After a year or two he returned home to marry. Not to get ahead of the story, however, the first of the White children to marry was Uncle Will, (William Henry) he married Eliza Spencer Gardner, from Indianola, on the First of October, in 1907, Then on the 16 of October, the same year, 1907, my Grandfather, Franklin "D" (Frank), married Annie Elizabeth Brady of Fairview, in the Manti Temple. Finally was Uncle Ira (Robert Ira) married Christina Elizabeth Blansett on 19th of February in 1908.
This left just two children at home with Robert and Amy, even though all of their married children lived in Indianola. Eunice had been the victim of polio, and had been burned severely. From her history: “When I was a year old I could run and play. One day my big brother was cutting wood and he left the axe standing with the blade up, and I ran over and fell on it. Then I withered away like a flower, and when I was four I was more helpless than a baby. When I could walk and run again, I had two brothers and one would play the harmonica and the other would dance with me. They said I could dance the smoothest waltz, just as good as anyone. The folks said I could get around twice as good and as quick as the boys. I improved a little, then I had this spell. My hair came out as fast as it came in. When it came in, Mother knew I was improving. When it stayed in, Mother knew I was improving.
“I was lying on the bed and there was a bed table by the bed with a lamp on it. I got a match and struck it, it fell on my clothes and the flames were over my head. I couldn't speak, but I made a noise. Father looked my way and jumped up and grabbed me. He tore all my clothes off me, and put me in a barrel of water. They had to have water in a barrel then. There wasn't a scratch on me.
“When I was so bad I made mother understand that I wanted the Elders to administer to me. When they came, they put their hand to my mouth to tell whether I was breathing or not. I couldn't sit up or hold my head up. Later, when I got better, my brother, Frank, would play sheep camp with me. On a ridge we would have rocks for sheep and play we were herding them".
Franklin "D" adds this to the story: "When I was a small boy my only sister Eunice had a severe sick spell when she was about two years old. The doctors didn't know what was wrong then, but it must have been polio for it left her partially paralyzed and she never has been able to balance herself or walk alone. She is still living at this writing and has been married twice and is a widow now and is sixty-seven years old. I mention this now because her life has brought about some wonderful experiences for me- which I shall tell of later on".
From the records of the old Indianola Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we find that Robert was not a great active participant in the church. The blessings, baptisms, and ordinations of his children were performed by other people. The Bishop, or other Priesthood holders in the ward did these ordinances. Robert did not take his sweet bride to the temple, even though they were fairly close to Manti for much of their lives. This would seem to show that perhaps he didn't keep his testimony. Even though he insisted that his children be raised with every opportunity the church could provide. Perhaps he felt that he had been offended by some church leader, or maybe there were other reasons for his non-attendance at church. For whatever reason this would seem to be a real tragedy in the lives of some very fine people. The effects were also far reaching in the lives of his children. Some of them never finding a testimony for themselves, and living lives outside of activity in the church.
The only picture I have ever seen of Robert White, shows and old man with cap on. He wears wire rimmed glasses and has a long white beard. He was not a large man, most of the White family are not big people.
Of the things of the earth, Robert never had much. He lived and died a poor man. Whether this was because of circumstances he encountered in his early life, or maybe he couldn't find the thing that would bring that success. Perhaps he really didn't care about the things that were made from money. It can be said of him that he was an honest, hard-working man, and that he taught his family to be the same.
By not marrying until late in his life, he brought the generation of the pioneers very close to us. It is hard to imagine that in 1995, I can say that I had a great-grandfather, that experienced these things. He was born just 5 years after the restoration of the gospel to the earth. He knew the Prophet Joseph Smith, and lived in Nauvoo. He was present in the Grove at the time that Brigham Young had the mantle of the Prophet fall upon him. He crossed the plains as a young boy. He pioneered in places that others did not have the opportunity to go. He crossed the plains many times in the Church Wagon Trains. All of these experiences of a man who is a full generation closer to me than almost any of the people that I know.
The writing of this history has brought me to a better understanding of this man. Not an outstanding person as judged by the standards of the world, and even by the standards of the church. But I have found for the first time that here is a person that I have learned to love and appreciate for what he was. I can honestly say for the first time in my life. Grandpa Robert, I love you, thank you for your legacy.
April 14, 1995