Robert T Thomas
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One of the seven sons of Robert T Thomas, William Thomas (1871-1895), wrote a Historical Sketch and Genealogy of the Thomas Family [Dcms.lds.org. Retrieved 8 July 2016, from https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE3157909&usedforsort=MS_1598_f0002]. The story of Robert T, as related by him to this son constitutes the bulk of the Historical Sketch. Brief treatments of other family members are also included. The Historical Sketch is undated, but since one entry is dated 1888, and since Robert T died in 1892, and his son died in 1895, it's evident that William was working on the project in the late 1880's and early 1890's. William was only 24 years of age when he died. He left a brief sketch of his own life and aspirations and a description of his deteriorating health.
The Historical Sketch is the source of the material below which is presented in the booklet titled Robert T. Thomas (sic, The "T" was not an abbreviation) which I received from my grandmother, Mary Zella Thomas Monson.
Robert T Thomas
I now write father's history as nearly as possible in the same words as he related it unto me. William Thomas.
When I was five years old, on the day of Grandfather Daniel's funeral, I was playing in the second story of an old machine shop when I fell out the door, about 20 ft. from the ground, among some gin-saws, on my face. I was knocked out of my senses for 12 hours.
In the Autumn of 1828 when I was about six years old, I had a vision. I thought I was in the fields, and it seemed like it was twilight. I saw a star in the east and it was very bright. It lighted up the whole heavens and it kept coming nearer and getting larger. I then saw a personage with a rainbow over his head and his feet rested upon the clouds and a host of angels were around his head on each side. I heard people hollering and shouting, then it vanished. I believe it was to prepare my mind to receive the great Latter Day work.
Father forbid us playing of Sunday. One Sunday night when father and mother went visiting a friend, we boys and girls, to have some fun, built a fire in front of the house. We were playing in a circle around the fire when we saw a light in heaven. Descending slowly, it lighted in the center of the ring or circle. It was a ball of vapor or meteor about the size of a persons head and when it struck the ground it spread out like a vapor or moonshine. We soon put out the fire and went home and in a few minutes father and mother came home. I think it was a warning that we were disobeying our parent and that we were breaking the Fourth Commandment, "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it Holy." That was the last time we ever played on Sunday.
Along about when I was eight years old I went to a camp meeting. I became seriously impressed with religion. The vision which I had had impressed my mind, but when I received what they called religion, I doubted that it was the true religion. The Baptist preacher said, "They doubt religion and all are full of doubts and fear." He persuaded me to be baptized. I was baptized in the Free-Will Baptist Church. But I still doubted whether I had religion or not. My mother belonged to this church, as did my brothers Joseph, Elijah, William and Henry, and my sister, Rachel. My father and my brother Daniel belonged to none.
On the 13th day of November, 1833, the negroes came running into father's room and said, "Mars't Henry, the day of Judgement has come and all the stars from the heaven are falling."
So father and all of us got up to see the stars fall. Some of the negroes were shouting and were glad that the judgment day had come and others were afraid, began to pray and holler, and every negro was making a fuss. Some of the whites were carrying on as bad as the negroes. It was not stars falling, but kind of a meteoric display. The meteor came straight down and left a blaze behind it like a comet, but it appeared a hundred times longer and didn't touch the earth. I think it was a sign of Christ's second coming.
When I was eleven years old, I fell from a chimney about twenty-five feet, and was so severely injured that I had to lie in bed for three months. There were no broken bones.
Father promised us all a good education. Two years after my mother died, the three oldest boys, Daniel, Henry, and William, wanted to go out West. They had received a good education, but father was opposed to this because the younger boys and girls would lose their education. They persuaded father to go, and that is why I lost my college schooling.
In 1834 all of us moved west to Mississippi, and it wasn't many years before all of our relatives came after us. We settled in Noxubee County in the Tombigbee Valley. All of us were hunting for weeks before we found land that would suit father. It was where a cold spring ran out of the side of a hill, and was high land where we could look over the valley. The place was about ten miles west of Macon. It was a new country, and we were near the Indians
In 1843, Elder Benjamin Clapp, Daniel Gurley, and an Elder by the name of Hallett, began to preach ten miles off. Daniel heard them, and brought home a Book of Mormon. I read it through, and told him it was quite a history, and a very interesting novel. I asked Daniel where it came from, and he said "It's the Golden Bible found by Joseph Smith." He went over and joined them. I said, "You had better be careful how you fool around them. They may be deceivers". In a few days they came over to our village and preached there two weeks. All of our family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were baptized the first part of February, 1844.
I was baptized February 12, 1844, by B. L. Clapp. At night the same day, Brother Clapp took me out in the woods and kneeled down and prayed that I might speak in a new tongue at the meeting that night. I thought it would be impossible to do such a thing. We went to the meeting where I was confirmed by Elder Clapp, with about twenty-five others, mostly relatives. After I was confirmed I received the spirit in power, and stood up to bear my testimony, but I could not move my tongue to speak. Elder Clapp said, "Let your tongue be loosed." I began to talk in a new tongue. Afterwards he got up and told the interpretation. He said that there were five men outside that had come to break up the meeting. Just then two men came in. One said, "We came here tonight intending to break up this meeting, but I know Robert. He could not talk in a new tongue if it was not the gift of God." Two of them were baptized.
There were two hundred people around there that were baptized, and I don't know one that has apostatized. Most of these people came from Richmond, North Carolina. They came to Mississippi with and after father.
Elder Clapp wanted me to go with him about eighty miles to Alabama, to where he had formed two branches of the Church four years before. We stayed a month in Alabama, and then returned home. Father and a number of the family were preparing to go to Illinois. After getting ready, we moved once more from our old home.
In 1844 we went to Brandon, and there got aboard the first railroad I had ever ridden on. We rode to Vicksburg and transferred to a steamer and sailed up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri. There we transferred to a smaller steamer and arrived at Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, in April, 1844. That same month Joseph Young ordained me a Seventy. I lived in the same house that the Prophet Joseph Smith lived in, and saw him and talked to him often.
I had been in Nauvoo only four weeks when Heber C. Kimball met me and cousin John Thomas and said "I want you two to go on a mission." "You report at the Seventies Hall to be ordained Seventies, and then report to A. O. Smoot." I had been ordained a Seventy by Joseph Young in April.
We set off with seven others. We went down the river to St. Louis, then got a steamboat and landed at Miller's Point, Kentucky. We walked from this point across Kentucky to Dresden, Tennessee, to preach and to gather money to have Joseph Smith's policies on government printed.
My cousin John Thomas and myself were sent to Huntington County, Tennessee. We were to return back to Dresden in two weeks. Two days before we started back I had a dream. I thought we were at a meeting in a large brick house. While the meeting was going on, a mob came against us. They came inside and all of us came out. Just then the house fell down on the mob and crushed them all. The noise seemed to awaken me. I woke up John and told him my dream. I said, "There is something going to happen." He said, "Yes, Robert, we're going to be mobbed."
We would go into the fields and help the farmers with their work and talk to them. The farmers would say, "They are damn good fellows, anyway, if they are Mormons." While we were there I received quite a good sum.
We started to Dresden after breakfast where there was to be a conference in the court house on Saturday. We went in the afternoon. There were seventeen Elders present, all on the stand. While the meeting was going on, there was great excitement in town. People would roll out big kegs of whiskey on the sidewalks and let everybody have all they wanted. They beat drums and tin pans and made speeches about the Mormons.
Elder Smoot was dismissing the meeting by prayer when a mob of two hundred rushed into the house at both doors. Their captain, Mr. Caldwell, gave a command to form around the room, and not let anyone escape. President A. O. Smoot asked what they wanted. The answer was, "Blood." "You have come here to incite the slaves to kill their masters." They were about to lay hands on us when Sister Champ pulled up her sleeves and said, "Mr. Caldwell, you dare to touch one of those Elders and I will see your heart's blood." (She weighed about 200 pounds and stood six feet high.) At that the mob said, "Knock her down." The sheriff said, "No, Mrs. Champ, they shan't hurt you."
Just then the mob moved toward Mrs. Champ and left a space about six feet wide between the door and the stand. Each Elder had a heavy hickory walking stick in his right hand. Jumping up we all single-filed out of the house. When I got out I looked back to see if the building had fallen. All about there was fighting among themselves and the captain ran into the woods or he would have been killed. The sheriff sent a committee the next day to President Smoot to inform him that the Elders could hold meetings in the court house again. We held a meeting one week after this.
After this meeting I went back with my cousin, John Thomas, to fulfill an appointment in Huntington County, Tennessee. We took with us Joseph Mount. We filled the appointment and preached there about a week.
Cousin John Thomas and myself started to go to a conference to be held in Dyer County, Tennessee. We took it on foot. We stayed the first night at a friend's. After breakfast we started again and walked about twenty miles and got out dinner, then started out again. Night came on. We had nothing to eat and slept out in the woods. The next morning we went. Every place we stopped the people wold turn us off.
At night it was so dark we could not keep the road. We lost the road and came to a swamp. John fell into a creek and got wet all over. We found the road at last by the light of the lightning. When we got out of the swamp it began to rain. We called at another place. They had gone to bed and refused to do anything in the way of getting us some food. On we went through the rain, keeping the road by the help of the lightning.
We became so tired and hungry that we lay under a large oak tree to rest. We hadn't been there long when lightning struck a large oak tree nearby. We soon got out of there and came to an old field. We could see a house ahead of us and found it to be an old blacksmith shop. We found the door and lay down on the forge hearth and went to sleep with our wet clothes on. After staying out two nights, having nothing to eat for two days and nights, tired, footsore and hungry, now to sleep in a blacksmith shop -- one thing it did was make me humble.
At dawn the next day we got up and saw a house about a mile ahead of us. We went to the place and told the landlord our case. He took us in and gave us a room, and we put on some dry clothes. He told us to go to bed and his wife would get us some breakfast. After sleeping about an hour we got up and had breakfast, walked around a bit, and went back to bed. At one o'clock we got up and had a good dinner, thanked the good folks, and took our leave.
We arrived at the place where the conference was to be held that evening, tired, footsore, and well worn out. We held a three-day's conference. A. O. Smoot and twenty other Elders were there. Six persons were baptized.
After the conference, John Thomas and myself started for Noxubee County, Mississippi, the old place where we lived and where I was baptized. We traveled forty miles a day without purse or scrip. We found the branch of the church there in bad shape. We went to the meeting and after prayer and singing I got up to speak when one of the congregation began to "hallo", another to scream, and another was choked down. I continued to speak, but the noise became worse. The people thought it was all done by the power of the Lord.
I sat down and asked John if he didn't think it was the power of the devil. He said, "Yes." I said we would lay hands on them. I got up and told them that it was of the devil, that the good spirit never choked people down. We laid our hands on each head and cast out the evil spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. They ceased to struggle and all was calm. This caused some excitement for several days and they came almost to mobbing us. Finally they admitted we had done right.
We went to another place to see an experienced man to see what he thought about it, if we had done right. He said, "It would have been a great experience, even for an experienced Elder, to lay hands on a person with an evil spirit." "This shows that you had much faith." He went over with us to preach on the different spirits that appeared with the Saints. That was the last time evil spirits troubled that branch.
In a few days after this we went to another branch of the Church in the same county. At this meeting we received the news that the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum had been killed in Carthage jail on the 27th of June, 1844. Some believed it and others did not. The Saints held a meeting and prayed to the Lord asking if it was true. One of the Elders arose and spoke in tongues. Another Elder interpreted it and said that Joseph and Hyrum were not dead. The presiding Elder asked if they had a testimony of the interpretation, if it was true. Everyone said they did not.
After the meeting seven or eight of the Elders went out into the woods to pray to know if the interpretation was true or not. They all had the impression that it was of the devil. The following day I traveled to another small branch. I was alone. I went aside from the road into a thicket and asked the Lord to remove the gloom that was over my mind if Joseph and Hyrum were still alive, but if they were dead to leave me unchanged. I then believed they were dead. For two or three days I talked very little and preferred to be alone.
In a few days the Nauvoo papers came out dressed in mourning. This confirmed the report. The question then arose as to who would lead the Church. Some said it would be Sidney Rigdon, and some spoke of others, but I said it would be one of the Twelve Apostles. Most of the Elders soon started for Nauvoo, but I decided to stay with it until my time was up.
James Richer received a letter from his relatives to come over to Pickens County, Alabama to preach to them on "old Joe Smith and the Golden Bible". We went over and gave notice when a meeting was to be held about four miles from Pickensville. We lay around in the woods for a week, praying and reading the Bible. I told Richer if there was any preaching to be done he would have to do it, as my mind was a perfect blank. He said I must preach. I said, "You preach first, and I will bear my testimony". He said if I didn't preach he would report me. Richer wanted to speak on the Book of Mormon and to follow on the first principles of the Gospel. I told him, "If I preach, I will preach first". He agreed to that.
The meeting was to commence at ten o'clock. The room was twenty-five by forty feet, and was crowded, the yard also. I prayed that I might have wisdom and say that which would benefit all. It was about four minutes to ten when we went inside. I was so frightened I didn't think I would reach the stand without falling down. Richer picked out a hymn, "The City of Zion," and prayed. We sang again. Every eye on the house was on us. I would have been glad if the floor had sunk.
I arose to my feet and spoke slow at first, and read out of the bible. In about five minutes the spirit rested down upon me, my tongue was loosed, and I was no longer afraid. I began to prove up faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands, by the Bible. A bully called out "Quit that G-- d---- quotin" of the Bible, and preach about old Joe Smith and the Golden Bible." I stopped, looked at the man, doubled up my fist, shook it at him, and said, "You shut up." Everyone was thunder struck.They ducked their heads like I was going to hit them.
I happened to look at the clock and found I was so wrapped up that I had talked two hours. Richer spoke for a while. After the meeting the people gathered around us and wanted to know many things, why we didn't preach "old Joe Smith" walking on the water, and if he hadn't "learned the boy how to speak." Richer said I had preached a most powerful sermon. We baptized eight persons.
We returned to Mississippi to fulfill two or three appointments in February, 1845. We held a meeting. After the meeting we walked two and a half miles in a rain storm and went to bed with our wet clothes on. Next morning I had a fever, and in two days came down with the measles. I was down three weeks, nine days of which I was out of my mind. I did not eat anything but something was forced down me.
Benjamin Clapp heard I was sick and came to see me. He said, "What are you doing, trying to die?" "You shan't die here." He administered to me, and asked the woman of the house to make some chicken broth. I then got up, dressed myself, and ate some soup. Up to this time I was a fairly good singer, but after this sickness I lost my voice for a month. I could not speak above a whisper.
After organizing a company to go to Memphis, I sent them down the Tombigbee to Big Crossing, abut sixty miles. I took straight out about twenty-five miles to the river on foot. When I arrived at the river I found that the boat had gone and the river had risen. I got a pole about thirty feet long and got a man to help me in the river with it. I strapped my clothes on my shoulders, and putting the little end up stream, kept the log side to the stream, and that sent it across the river, with me holding on. I went to a friend's and that night I took the ague and had it two years, off and on.
I went to Memphis, took a steamer on the Mississippi, and arrived at Nauvoo, having been gone thirteen months on my mission. The following summer I worked in the Free Mason's Lodge three or four months.
I stood guard in Nauvoo during the autumn of 1845. Did not do much of anything until the time of the burning, then I was sent to Warsaw to spy out what they intended to do. I received a number of important hints. Later I slept with one. We talked late that night and the next morning I went back to Nauvoo.
In 1846 I worked in a wagon shop making wagons for the Saints to leave Nauvoo.
In the Spring a man by the name of Stuart from Alabama wanted me to help him get his family. They were at the south part of Illinois. We went to Warsaw and took a boat to St. Louis where he had a carriage. His wife took sick, so he sent me for his family. I returned in a month. His wife was well, and we all sailed up to St. Louis, from there to St. Charles, across the Missouri River on to the east side and by land until we almost reached Council Bluffs. I bought for the man twenty yoke of cattle, and seven wagons, and loaded them all with provisions.
On rolling into Council Bluffs in June, I learned of the death of my sister Harriet Thomas.
At that time they were raising the Mormon Battalion. My brother Elijah Thomas went with them, and I would have gone if I hadn't taken down sick.
I came near unto death. They all gave me up to die. One day there came two strangers to the house. I did not know them, however, I asked them to lay hands on me. They did so, and as soon as they had gone I got up and began to hunt my partner's cattle. I found all but one yoke and they had been stolen.
We started from Winter Quarters, a short distance above Omaha, on the 7th day of April, 1847, for the West. We crossed the Elkhorn River and the Loup Fork River at Powell Village. Went up the north side of the Platte River until we came to the North Platte River; crossed it on a boat at Fort Laramie. We traveled up the North Platte River, made a boat, and crossed two companies of the Oregon emigrants. They paid us in flour and meat. We then crossed over and left three men to take care of the ferry.
We passed over by Soda Lake to Independence Rock and followed the Sweetwater River up the stream to the Pacific Springs, then down to the Green River. Made a raft here to take the wagons over and swam the cattle. Then we continued on to Fort Bridger and down the canyon.
President Young took sick and half the company, with the mountain fever. In the [8th] company of ten I was in not one person was sick of the mountain fever. The company all stopped, but forty men with twenty wagons continued on down Echo Canyon making roads down to Weber River, and made a road over the East Canyon Creek, up that, then on over Big Mountain, then on over little Mountain, down Canyon Creek.
We arrived in the Promised Land, Salt Lake Valley, the 22nd of July, 1847. I was with the company that arrived on July 22nd. We had not been in the valley long before we had a swim in Great Salt Lake. The first big job was to get some water out of the creek on to the parched land, and plant seed, so we could have a harvest.
In the Autumn I went back to Pacific Springs to meet my father and brother and two sisters, Amanda and Catherine.After we arrived back in the industrious little settlement, I went hauling wood for the winter. William Stewart fitted me out as a pioneer when he came on. I lived with him in Salt Lake City until March, 1848. I herded cattle and hauled wood from Cottonwood. When I left him in March he gave me sixty pounds of shelled corn, at that time worth its weight in gold.
I went to work for Perrigrine Sessions, and in March went with him up to Davis County. Through the week days I hauled wood and made moccasins out of elk skin rawhide and sinew. One pair would last me only one week, working in the canyon snaking logs, so I would need to make a pair of moccasins every Sunday.
We plowed and planted twenty-seven acres of corn, wheat, peas, melons and squash. We planted twenty-two acres of the twenty-seven to corn of my own, which I had received from William Stewart. His farm was where Bountiful is now.
When the corn was about four feet high, the crickets came down from the mountains and foothills by the millions, and commenced eating the crops. Sessions gave up and was going back to Salt Lake City. I said, "Why not dig a ditch around the north and east sides of the farm." He said, "We'll try it." We plowed a ditch around and turned the water in. The water would wash the crickets into a swamp. Then Sessions, his daughter, his father, and I killed many of them with paddles. We kept them off for ten days, then they came so fast that we dug another ditch, and kept them off three weeks longer, when Sessions and his father got sick and went to Salt Lake City, leaving me alone to fight the crickets.
The crickets were moving west. At about 9 o'clock they would commence moving and eating everything that was green. At 11 o'clock they would crawl up on the bushes and grass, never moving until about one o'clock. Then they would feed once more until about one hour before sunset.
I would turn water on the corn at night, and let it run all night, then turn it off in the morning. Before the crickets would begin to move, I would turn the water back in the ditches. At last they came so fast and thick that I plowed another ditch, which made three. Each ditch was full in the middle of the stream with the old black crickets.
I sent for Sessions. He and his father came out and helped me. He went up the mountain side to see if there was ever going to be and end to them. We went and went, and as far as we could see they were still coming. I began to get discouraged, and Sessions and his father went back to Salt Lake.
Captain Brown came from Ogden and reported that up north they had lost their crops, except at Cherryville and surrounding settlements, and that it was no use to try and save ours. He went back to Salt Lake and tried to get President Young to go back East. We were thousands of miles from any provisions, and most the cattle had been eaten. Very little food stuff was left on hand, and now a crop failure.
At this time sea-gulls came on from the west by the millions. Flocks came to Cottonwood, and flocks came north to the hot springs and turned south, and swept the crickets clean as they went. The gulls would come about nine o'clock, eat until eleven, then fly west and return at about one o'clock then leave for the day about six o'clock.
Our crop made a good yield, but most the the people lost three fourths of their crop. In the autumn Sessions paid me for my corn and summer's work, ten bushels of wheat, a little peas and beans and squash, and some corn. Sessions said if I would work for him another year he would fence some forty acres of land adjoining his. He said I was the best hand he ever had to work for him. I did not accept of his offer because he had not done right by me. I furnished the seed, and saved the crop, and he gave me only ten bushels of wheat.
I went to Salt Lake City and took up a five-acre lot in the center part of the city and sowed some wheat that autumn; also seven and a half acres at the edge of town. I also went to school to W. W. Phelps and to night school to Addison Pratt and learned the Conacky language.
Mission To Establish Fort Utah
In the spring of 1849 they sent a company to settle near Utah Lake. Early in March we started south. The party consisted of thirty families, numbering in all one hundred fifty souls. We brought provisions, seed, and forty teams. We were three days reaching our destination.
Three miles from the spot where the old fort was build, we were met by Timpanogos Indians. They were greatly excited by our advance on their lands. They ordered our company to stop, and we were not allowed to advance until a treaty was made. Dimick B. Huntington, the famous Indian interpreter, was made to raise his right hand and swear by the sun that we would not drive the Indians from their lands.
We crossed the river at the old ford, and settled on the south side, now called Fort Field. We made a farm there, planted, fenced, and put in crops.
On the 18th day of March, 1849, John S. Higbee was appointed president, and Isaac Higbee and Dimick Huntington counselors, over the branch.
On the 3rd of April we began to build a fort to be prepared against Indian attacks. The fort was formed by joining the cabins together, all built of logs. It was 300 feet long and 150 feet wide. Outside of the houses there was erected a stockade fourteen feet high. The cabins were built close together, but at a certain distance a space was left of a few feet to let the settlers pass out to the stockade, at each end of which was a gate. In the center of the fort we erected a bastion, upon which to place a cannon commanding the surrounding country. We got it completed in about six weeks. We called it Fort Utah.
By the middle of May we had planted over one hundred fifty acres to small grain. On the 23rd of May a very severe snow-storm came down. It lasted three hours. That night the frost was so severe that it destroyed the greatest part of the vegetation. Our wheat crop was good, but the early frost killed much of our corn before it got ripe. I went to Salt Lake City and reaped and thrashed 100 bushels of wheat and brought it back to Fort Utah.
On the 2nd of July we held a mass meeting and passed a law that any gambling with the Indians or shooting around the fort would be fined no less that $25.00 nor more than $100.00. On the 4th of July we organized a militia with Jefferson Hunt as Captain, Peter Conover and myself as Lieutenants.
In September emigrants on the way to California stopped at Provo. They wanted to see us shoot the cannon. They furnished the powder and William Dayton, George Bean and a boy about sixteen years old volunteered to load and shoot the cannon. They shot it off once, and rammed down another load without swabbing it out. It went off and killed Dayton and shot off George Bean's arm.
The California emigrants wanted some more horses and ponies and buckskins. They traded the finest rifles in the United States and cartridges to the Indians, so the Timpanogos or Ute Indians were as well armed as we were, or more so. That autumn the Indians stole our cattle and grain and commenced shooting at us when we went to get timber and wood.
During the winter of 1849 and 50 we stood guard around the fort. The Indians became so troublesome that we went to Salt Lake City for help. In February Governor Young sent 100 men. They started on the 7th of February and arrived on the morning of the 8th under the command of George D. Grant.
A council of war was held between Captain Grant and Conover. At 9 o'clock we started for the Indians. Grant and his men went on the south side of the Provo River and Conover marched upon the north side. We surrounded the Indians who were well fortified long under the banks of the river. The Indians were on the south side of the river as we discovered from seeing their horses.
Conover called for volunteers to go across and get them but no one would volunteer. He called for me and Robert Egbert. We were Lieutenants at that time. We went down to the river which was full of mush ice and jumped in. We drove them over and just as we were coming up the bank the Indians saw us and began to shoot at us. I turned around to see which way their they were shooting from and just then a rifle ball struck a twig about six feet from my head, turning the ball which then went between my legs and struck the snow behind me. Afterward I measured where it struck and if it had not been for the twig, the ball would have hit me in the head.
The snow was two feet deep on the ground. I was ordered with my company to go down the river. I came to an open place in the brush and passing down a little ravine I heard a gun go off across the river about 3 rods. I was between the Indian and a man by the name of Miles Standley. I was in line with the Indian and Miles and the Indian shot, missed me and hit Miles. The ball went through his thigh. We took him about 40 rods and put him on a horse and sent him to the fort. Jabus T. Nowlin (who married my sister Amanda Thomas) was shot through his nose.
The battle lasted two days and until 9 o'clock the third day. One was killed and eighteen were wounded on our side. Our men killed 40 Indians and wounded all of them but a few who made peace and came in the fort. The third day was Sunday. General Wells ordered some of us up to the Indian camp and found that they had gone. We tracked them up Rock Canyon and found chief Elk Horn with a bullet through him.
A company under Wells and Grant started out with about one hundred men to go down south. We went to Spanish Fork and made that our headquarters. Next morning we went south and struck the Indian trail. We followed it to the south side of the lake by Table Point. The Indians started on the ice. Wells called a halt before we rounded Table Point. Wells told Grant to take his men and follow the Indians, and he would go with his up to Peteetneet Creek.
I was with the Wells command. We went on about two miles and saw two men coming after us on horseback. We called a halt and they told Wells they had come up on the Indians. He turned back with fifty men, leaving thirteen men under my command. We went to see what we could discover and carry news to headquarters.
Wells and Grant killed five Indians and took seventeen prisoners. The following morning the seventeen tried to get away and were shot.
On our way to headquarters at Peteetneet Creek and about two miles farther we came near some brush. About thirty yards in the willows we could see a wigwam. We sent an Indian named Black Hawk to see how many there were. He came back and said there was a blind Indian in the wigwam and two others close by with a pistol. The blind Indian said the pistol "no go, won't stand roost." We concluded to let the two and the old blind Indian go.
We went about two miles. The snow lay in big drifts and it was after midnight before we arrived at headquarters. That night I froze my feet. I told them about the three Indians we had seen. That night a company from Salt Lake City under Captain Lamoreaux went to hunt for those Indians. They took a cannon and baggage wagon. At daylight they charged on the three Indians, killed them, and returned. Wells heard of it and court-martialed the Captain.
Next morning word came to send some wagons to get the squaws. We were ordered to return home.
In March 1850 we received word from Governor Young that if we learned of any Indians around to make peace with them. After this war a camp fire was seen one night on the west side of the lake by Table Mountain or Table Point. The following morning General Wells ordered a company to go around and make peace with them. Twenty-three of us, mostly young men, were chosen.
We started across the lake on foot, under command of Captain Conover. When we arrived at a point about half way over the lake we discovered the Indians on horses. They rode to the foot of the hill, dismounted, left their horses, and came down to the edge of the rocks on the lake shore.
When we reached about one half mile from the shore, the chief came to meet us. His name was Grospene. He was the brother of Walker. A. C. Huntington and Hugh Blackburn were sent ahead to see what the Indians wanted. The Indians struck A. C. down and said, "What did you kill my brother for?" A. C. began to cock his pistol to shoot the chief when Blackburn snatched the gun from him.
About this time the main body came up. We ran our best, the chief with us. We went around the rocks and among the Indians. They said, "Have you sent boys over here to fight us?" and turned up their noses. There were twenty-four Indians and twenty-three whites. We built a fire and got some tobacco and provisions. One Indian would sit down, then a white, and so on, until all were seated in a circle around the fire. Then we began to smoke the pipe of peace and eat. This went on about one hour, then the Indians let the whites get on the horses behind them and took us all back to the fort.
Fort Utah becomes Provo
The first school taught in Utah County was in the old fort during the winter of 1849 - 1850 by Mary Ann Turner. She was the daughter of Chauncey and Hannah Redfield Turner. She married myself, Robert T Thomas, in the old fort on the 18th day of April, 1850, this being the first marriage in Utah County.
In the summer of 1850, Walker had been to California and returned with a large herd of horses which had been stolen and camped at the Provo River. They ate up most of the crops, except those in the fort field. Chief Sowiette, head of the Ute nation was also here with his warriors. Together they numbered about four hundred men.
Walker visited Governor Young for the purpose of getting his permission to go and fight the Snakes and wanted some of Provo to go with him. Governor Young wouldn't allow it, but counseled Walker to give over the shedding of blood and be at peace. Walker came back and formed a plan to massacre all the inhabitants of the fort.
The plan was revealed to Isaac Higbee in the night by Sowiette, who told Higbee that if he would let him come in with his warriors he would defend the fort. Sowiette also sternly said to Walker "When you move, you will find me and my men in the fort defending."
It was this warning alone which Walker knew would be kept that saved us all from a terrible death. Walker's band were firing and howling all night around the fort. We stood with our guns in our hands all night and Sowiette's band was ready to help us if Walker attempted to carry out his plans.
This year Chauncey Turner and myself had a field surveyed on the east side of the city, known as Turner's Field. Fences were built and water was brought from the Provo River in what was called the Turner Ditch.
In the years of 1853 and 54 I was elected a City Councilman of Provo.
In the summer of 1853 the famous Walker War broke out on July 19th. Walker, with about four hundred warriors, was camped near the mouth of Payson Canyon. One of the citizens of that place whipped an Indian because he was whipping his squaw and the Indian died on the 19th of July. Walker was greatly enraged and that evening some of the maddest of his men rode to Payson and shot the man who was standing guard. The alarm was given that the Indians were going to massacre the Payson settlers and quickly the news ran and the call to arms was made in the various settlements of Utah County.
An express was sent to Colonel Peter W. Conover, who was at that time in command of the militia of Utah County. The express arrived at Provo on the morning of the 20th. Colonel Conover called out a company of one hundred fifty men who soon were on the way. They arrived at Payson at one o'clock and drove the Indians into the mountains.
It was feared that the Indians would attack the settlers in Sanpete County. Conover went to their relief and sent orders to me at Provo to raise a company to reinforce Payson, where I arrived with sixty men. I had them take down to their houses and move in the form of a fort so they would have protection. I was there about a week.
Colonel George J. Smith came up inspecting the work and called on me with twelve men to go as a bodyguard to Provo with him. While I was away my wife had moved into the town. They pulled all the houses down outside of the town but mine. They left that for a guard house. It was located one block east of the old court house.
In the autumn of 1853 I was called by Colonel George J. Smith to raise a company of thirty wagons to go to Iron County to help strengthen the settlements there. We raised the company in the different settlements of Utah County and started the last of October.
We arrived at Parowan the last of November. I went on to Cedar City where they had three sides of the city walled. I was appointed to supervise the wall on the west side. We had the job completed by the middle of January, 1854. We then built a fence six feet high and four miles long of cedar to keep off the cattle and rabbits. I then went to work hauling coal for the iron works.
In the spring they called on me with others to go to the muddies to get iron for the iron works. We started the fore part of May and took an Indian guide with us. When we arrived where the road went down to Santa Clara, about a hundred Indians surrounded us and seemed to be very excited. I got out a blanket and told Higbee to get out a sack of flour. We poured about half the flour on the blanket. While they were dividing the flour we hitched on the cattle and drove away, leaving the Indians quarreling. Those Indians were very hostile and had been shooting at every company that came along.
We went down to the Santa Clara Creek and ahead we saw an Indian standing under a cottonwood tree motion to us to stop. He asked if we were Mormons. I said we were. He said "Mormon welcome on our lands." Their chief's name was Tarker. The Indians got under our wagons, on the axels and tongues, in the wagons, and on top. When night came the chief went ahead and told us where to camp and sent a couple of boys to drive our cattle away.
Our Indian guide left us before we got to Santa Clara. About midnight we heard a pistol shot up on the mountain. The chief pulled out his pistol and shot. In about an hour our Indian guide came to camp. We asked him why he left. He said he went to see all the indians in camp, to tell them who we were and what we had come for. The following morning the Indians brought back our cattle.
We told the chief we wanted iron. He said there is iron in Santa Clara. We went to where the road left the Santa Clara and met the Reese Company with a train of goods. We bought 2,000 pounds of iron from the Indians and returned to Cedar City, coming back ahead of the Reese Company.
Return to Provo
In the autumn of 1854 I with others came back to Provo. George J. Smith said I could move to Provo. I moved my family to Provo. In the spring of 1855 the Walker War was over.
In the autumn of 1854 the grasshoppers came and laid their eggs. In the spring of 1855 the young hoppers hatched out in myriads. Their ravages were frightful. They darkened the air like a thick cloud, as they came down on our fields. The covered the valley and the crops everywhere were destroyed. The valley appeared as though scorched by fire.
The grasshoppers would hatch out by the millions in dry spots. I would put straw on these places in my field, and when they hatched out I would set it afire and burn them. I turned about sixty chickens on the farm and they would get away with many of them. Then I built a ditch around the farm, and ran them off. I would catch them on a wagon cover and burn them. Two men with a rope would scare some of them off by pulling if one on each end. I saved my crop by not giving up. Most of the farmers lost their crops.
In the winter of 1856 Governor Young had given orders to Peter Conover to raise a company of militia in Utah County and pursue the Indian to recover the Hunsaker herd of cattle which they had driven off after killing the herdsman. Colonel Conover with eighty men pursued the Indians. We went to Springville and stayed the first night. During the night we took Old Squash, an Indian spy, prisoner. A short time afterward Elek Williams came running out of the tent and said Old Squash had cut his throat with a dull, rusty case-knife.
We went to Table Point and crossed over a part of the lake to Goshen. From there we were ordered to go around by South Fort and go to Tintic Valley. I was the commissary for the company.
The horsemen went from Goshen straight over the mountain into Tintic Valley. They pursued the Indians and came very close to them. The Indians took fright and left their stock behind except their horses. The expedition returned with the cattle and some horses.
In October,1856, word was received that the hand-cart company was out of provisions and suffering from the cold. They called for people from Salt lake City to go and help them. I furnished a wagon and team and loaded it with provisions. Dan Jones rode one of the horses and we lost him. They arrived in winter.
The Utah War
We received orders at 8 o'clock on the morning of 9th of October, 1857. W. E. Nuttall, W. W. Haws and myself was appointed Captains to take command of three respective Companies of 50 men each. I loaded a wagon with flour, meat, etc., everything being ready and at four o'clock pm assembly was beat. All formed and marched out of town by my command. But in consequence of the lack of teams I called a halt at the Provo River bridge until all things were made ready. Then I took command of Company F.
We travelled all night and the next night came to Little Cottonwood and arrived at Salt Lake next morning at 10 o'clock. We stopped there two or three days then we was ordered to go to Big Mountain. We halted in East Canyon Creek and went to work making trenches and places of defense. Then we went to Echo Canyon on the Weber where general Headquarters was located.
After a week returned to East Canyon and in about five days returned to Echo where we joined the main force. We drilled every day and done camp duty. General Johnston located his headquarters at Fort Bridger. Soon we were ordered to return home. We came via Parley's Canyon and arrived home on December 4, 1857. The Company was disbanded on Union Square and we returned to Provo.
In the Spring of 1858 Governor Cummings, who had been appointed by the President, called the military to go up Echo Canyon to guard the road against attack by the indians between Salt Lake City and Fort Bridger where General Johnston's army was camped. We went out to Echo two companies of military under command of Colonel Pace and L. J. Nuttall.
When we arrived at the mouth of Echo Canyon they detailed my Company F to the head of Echo Canyon to what they called Lost Camp to relieve Colonel Winder's command. He left me ten men under Lieutenant Strocton and 15 horsemen under Captain Abraham Conover and my company of 50 men. That composed the camp I being the ranking officer of the post. Ruler A. Miner was commissary. The best marksmen in the Echo Canyon bunch were in my company.
We were here until the first of July and orders came for Major Ivar and myself to come back to Provo to raise another company to relieve the companies that were there that they might come in.
When we arrived at the Weber River the command came to all to come in that the whole command was under Colonel Woolly. I stayed and came in with the rest to Salt Lake City. Everybody had left the city but a few who was detailed to burn the city and cut up the trees if Johnston's Army attempted to move into the city. I stayed all night and next morning came by stage to Provo.
A Judge Cradlebaugh came to Provo on the 8th of March, 1859. He held court in the old Seminary. He delivered one of the most outrageous addresses to the Grand Jury. You are the tools, the dupes, the instruments of a tyrannical church. You are taught to obey the orders and commit these murders. Deprived of your liberty you have lost your manhood and become the willing instruments of bad men. I say to you it will be my earnest effort, while with you, to knock off your ecclesiastical shackles and set you free. This is the way he charged the jury every day for hours. I was one of the jury.
In the Spring of 1858 Ann Maria and Chauncey Edwin my children, went out to the east field to meet me.
But that day I had been working in Little Spring Creek so the children missed me. I went to hunt for them. It was now getting dark and cold and the wolves were howling in all directions. I didn't know what minute the wolves would find them. Maria was only 5 and Chauncey was three years old. The whole town turned out to hunt for them, built fires all over so as to scare the wolves off. At midnight we had formed a line from the city to the east mountains with fires all along the line. At 2 o'clock we found them northeast of the city by the bench. They was found by Moses Curtis.
Civic and Personal Matters
I was elected justice of the Peace August the 6th, 1860, which office I held for eleven years. In 1861 I was elected Alderman of Provo City and held it to 1864. I surveyed the Lower East Union Canal and organized the company from the graveyard bench to Spring Creek. In the year 1862 I surveyed part of it and completed it in 1864.
At this time I took up a farm where now stands the Utah State Insane Asylum.
On the 20th day of February, 1863, I married Annie Catherine Erickson.
My daughter Ann Maria died 28 January, 1864.
The years of 1865 and 66 I was day and night guard at Provo for we were afraid of an Indian attack. It was at the time Black Hawk was on the warpath.
My first wife Mary Ann died December, 1867, and my son Daniel by my second wife died 17 days after birth.
In the year 1868 I was appointed by Governor Charles Durkee, Governor of Utah Major of the 2nd Division of the Nauvoo Legion.
In October 1870 I surveyed a canal from the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon on the east side over the bench towards Springville.
At the October Conference held in Salt Lake City in the year 1870 I was called to go on a mission with 150 others to the states to counteract the influence gotten up by Judge James B. McKean against the Mormon Church and Governor Young.
I started on the 17th day of November, 1870. I went to Omaha, Nebraska, and from there I went to the upper part of Iowa and visited my brother John Thomas and his family and many other old acquaintances.
I travelled mostly in the State of Iowa preaching. I returned home about the 1st of April 1871 after being blockaded in the snow on the plains about 15-20 days. There was seven big trains in the blockade and they had 1000 men working clearing the snow from the tracks. I had a good chance to preach the gospel and I baptized a man and his wife in Laramie City. Afterwards their children were baptized. I was gone four and a half months.
Canals, Visits, Civic Duties, Another Mission
In the Spring of 1872 I planned a canal and surveyed it from the Provo River to Spring Creek. I formed a company as the Upper East Union Irrigation Canal Company. I was appointed general water master of Provo 1872 and continued until 1882 or eleven years.
I went to President Brigham Young's funeral which took place Sunday, September 2, 1877. About 30,000 people were present.
I was re-baptized August 4, 1877 by J. P. R. Johnson and confirmed the same day by David Johns.
In September 1879 I went to Logan, Cache County, to visit my sisters Amanda and Catherine and other relatives and friends.
My second wife Annie Catherine died January 9, 1879.
On July 24, 1880, I went to Salt Lake to the grandest celebration ever to be held up to that date. The procession was three miles long. I was in one of the leading wagons representing the pioneers.
I sold part of my farm to the Territorial Insane asylum for $67.50 per acre. On 23 December, 1889, I went down to St. George, Washington County, to visit my brothers Daniel and Elijah and other relatives. I went through the temple while there and came back in January, 1891.
In March 1883 I was appointed pound keeper which post I held until 1892. In April, 1888, I sold the balance of my farm east of Provo to the Insane Asylum for $125.00 per acre. I had my old adobe house pulled down (that is the back part) and built two room and a back porch, and made some improvements around the place.
During the Spring and Summer of 1888 I had a very sore and inflamed foot and was quite sick.
On Sunday 2nd day of December I was called to serve as a missionary in Utah County. I devoted all my time to preaching and visiting the Saints. In two months I visited over 550 families.
On March 17, 1889, I went up to Ogden to visit my son Joseph H. and other relations.
In December of the same year I made a trip to Salt Lake City. I met Joseph H. Thomas and J. H. Frost on business.
In February 1890 Robert H. Thomas, my son, was elected to the office of City Councilman of Provo City.
My home at Provo caught fire on the 12th of November 1891. Damage was estimated at $950.00. Citizens of Provo helped repair the damage and volunteered donations.
William Thomas writes further
Robert T Thomas was the father of nine children, seven sons and two daughters. His first wife Mary Ann Turner Thomas, children Robert Henry, Anne Maria, Chauncy Edwin, and Sylvanus. Second wife Annie Catherine Ericksen Thomas, children Ann Catherine, Joseph Hyrum, Daniel, William and John Elijah.
Robert T Thomas served on four home missions in Utah County, besides the mission he was called to in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee before coming to Utah. He returned on one mission to the state of Iowa after coming to Utah.
He owned a farm down on Spring Creek, south of Provo and a farm east where the Territorial Insane Asylum now stands; also had two pieces of land on the graveyard bench and Rock Canyon bench; also on Lake View. Besides these, he owned a large farm in Provo City one block east of the Court House and down by the Depot. He had one lot in the center of Salt Lake City and when he moved to Provo he gave it up. Today it is worth $20,000. In 1853 he took up 2 lots in Cedar City; 15 acres near Cedar City; Piute County' 10 at Harmony on Ash Creek. He fenced them rabbit tight and when he came to Provo and moved there he gave that farm up. In those days there was no land agent and the only way to hold land was to live on it so when he came away the best he could do is to give it away. He has been blessed with plenty but the hand of providence would not let him accumulate vast riches which a great many of the first settlers of Utah came in possession of. Following is the land he owned: Lake View - 40 acres; Spring Creek - 12 1/2 acres; East Field - 55 acres; Rock Canyon Bench - 21 acres; Graveyard Bench - 7 1/2 acres; East of Depot - 40 acres; Block east of Court House - 5 acres (equal 7 lots). In First Ward Pasture - 5 acres; B. James Bennett - 3 1/2 acres (5 lots); Fort Fields - 7 1/2 acres; Cedar City Iron Co. - 3 city lots; near Cedar City - 15 acres; New Harmony - 11 acres; Salt Lake - 12 acres; Salt Lake and 2nd South Street - opposite Coop - one city lot.
He owned much land near Provo and in Provo, a farm in Spring Creek, a farm east of Provo, two pieces of land in Lake View, a farm on one block east to the Court House in Provo and down by the depot, two lots in Cedar City (about 15 acres) and 10 acres at Harmony on Ash Creek. He had to sell and sometimes almost give away some of the property. His first wife was sick for some time and his second wife was under the doctor's care for seven years and for five years was unable to walk.
Following are the various pieces of property he owned in Utah. Lake View 40 acres; Spring Creek 12.5 acres; east of depot 40 acres, one East block of Court House; 5 acres, 3.5 acres near James Bonnet; 10 acres in Salt Lake City. This in addition to that mentioned before.
The Great western International Irrigation Congress of the Region assembled at Salt Lake City. Robert T Thomas was one of the delegate from Utah. All of the states west of the Missouri was represented.
Father has not been feeling well, his strength has been wasting away. Up until the last two years he has carried himself erect and could get around as well as a younger man.
In April 1844 at Nauvoo just after father had arrived from the south, he went to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s mother’s place and saw a mummy which was in their possession. They found a roll of papyrus, writings of Abraham, Ma Smith explained the characters on the papyrus. This was the record from which the Pearl of Great Price was translated. Patriarch Hyrum Smith gave father a blessing and said as near as father could remember, that father was of the blood of Ephraim, that his acts in connection with his father and brethren would be written in the chronicles of the Lord to be handed down to the latest (last?) generation of man and his inheritance shall reach beyond the bounds of the everlasting hills if his faith fails him not.
Ann Catherine Ericksen
Ann Catherine Ericksen was the mother of Joseph H., William, John Elijah and Daniel. She was the daughter of Hanse C. and Dorthea Ericksen, born November 27, 1834, in Denmark. She died January 9th, 1879, at Provo. This is the blessing that was given by C. W. Hyde, March 17, 1863, in Salt Lake City, recorded in book K, page 433:
On the head of Ann Catherine Ericksen, in the name of Jesus Christ, I place my hands upon your head and pronounce a father's blessing upon (you) which will be sealed and confirmed in the Book of Life for your everlasting good. Because you have passed through much tribulation your reward shall be great. You are a daughter of ephraim and rightful heir to the blessings of the Holy Priesthood and a husband who will be kind and good to thee, and by like Mormon in the days of old, to find grace and favor before God Almighty and His kingdom on earth which will be one eternal blessing to you. It shall be your privilege to live and see the Messiah come and all the Saints with him, and stand upon the Mount of Zion arrayed in white robes together with One Hundred and forty-four thousand and be forever with your redeemer crowned with honor and immortality, Amen. Ephraim, August 4, 1863
Annie Catharine (sic) Erikson (My Mother). Annie was born November 27, 1834, in Sulland County, Denmark. She was the daughter of Dorthea and Hans C. Erikson. Her father was a German and her mother was Danish. Her father was a school teacher and revenue collector.
Annie Catharine joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and went to Copenhagen and worked among her relatives, preaching the gospel. She had wealthy relatives.
After her father died, Ann and her mother emigrated to America and came across the plains with oxen train. Her mother died in the Rocky Mountains, between Salt Lake City and Bridger. She could not talk English and was out in the mountains for four years before she could speak the English language so she could not find where mother was buried afterwards. Darthea died in her daughter Ann's arms.
When she came to Salt Lake City she started working in the Salt Lake Theater Hall for a year helping make scenery. Then she went to Sanpete County and lived there about two years and then back to Salt Lake City and stayed there for a while. She started to Sanpete again and stopped at Provo at Jordsen (sic).
She liked Provo and got a situation at the R. T. Thomas place and his daughter Ann Maria got her father to marry Ann C. so she went to Salt Lake City and was married to R. T. Thomas April, 1863. His daughter would sit up after she had come home from school and teach her English language and she learned it in a few weeks.
She was re-baptized by Thomas Farrer 11 August, 1877, and the same day confirmed by Edwin Peay.
She died in Provo, Utah County, January 9, 1879, leaving one daughter and three sons: Annie Catharine, Jan. 8, 1864; Joseph Hyrum, Dec. 12, 1866; Daniel William, September 8, 1871; and John Elijah, March 12, 1876.
Doctors, Death and Burial
Robert was taken down sick about the first of December having chills and fever. Dr. Walter R. Pike was called. He waited on him for a few days and as he was a member of the State Legislature his partner, Dr. Shores, took the case. He said that father couldn't live long as his constitution was worked down and being advanced in age it would be impossible to build him up. On February 12, 1892, Dr. Shores came and said it was a question of two or three days as father was getting very weak. Discontinued all medicine.
I telephoned Joseph Thomas. at Ogden and he came home. I also wrote to Kate. We changed doctors. Doctor Bickford said he perhaps would never get up then again he might get a little stronger for a time. On February 2, father still failing, I sent a telegram to Joseph H. Thomas at Ogden as follows: Come next train father is dying. Also sent a wire to Mrs. Catherine Leishman at Logan.
On the 24th I sent a wire to Rachel Thomas at Council Bluffs, Iowa.
On Sunday the 28 day of February, 1892, father died at the age of 70 years, 1 month, 20 days.
President Woodruff sent word by John W. Turner that he would like to attend Brother Robert Thomas's funeral but had arranged to dedicate his new home and that the twelve would be present. B. H. Roberts was the main speaker at the funeral. President Woodruff sent his sympathy and respects.
A True Pioneer Incident
At Provo in 1858, just after people began moving out on their farms from the fort happened an incident that was never forgotten by those who helped in the search for two lost children, my father who was but three years old and his five year old sister Maria. Bears at this time were plentiful and wolves howled on all sides. It was said the Indians would not kill a wolf, as they called them "The Great Sprit's Dogs". Just to how plentiful they were a lady seeing an animal inside her house quickly closed the door and called her husband who killed the large bear who had been helping himself to the provisions they had put by for winter. Also chickens sheep and pigs had to be shut in a high wall to keep from being killed. Wolves very often raided the chicken coops and one had to be careful lest the animal should attack and bit them severely with their sharp teeth.
Also Indians were quite troublesome because some of the white men were not too kind to them. Grandfather Thomas was like the great leader Brigham Young. It was better to feed them than to fight them. With such a picture as these scenes of those days, one can better appreciate the anxiety of the people, in the following remarkable incident.
Robert T Thomas and his wife Mary Turner Thomas, daughter of Chauncey Turner and Hannah Redfield, had at this time two children who would often go for a ride out to the cornfield about one and one half miles from their home. To be exact it is now the farm owned by the State Mental Hospital at Provo. Often their father would take them in the morning to have a ride back at noon of a big load of corn. When one Thursday afternoon they were gone, their mother after inquiring if they were at the home of two or three neighbors and without finding them, concluded they were with their father after another load of corn. Just after dark as the people were gathering for the usual Thursday evening prayer and Testimony meeting the father reached home but alone The children had not been seen. The word went out immediately that the children were lost. And it was said every able bodied man and by joined the searching party. With pitch pine torches they spread in a line and started towards the fields having no idea but that they had gone after their father. On went the string of men in widening circles every little while shuddering at the awful sound of the coyotes. About two o'clock in the morning some of the searchers came back to the house, where a number of the older people had gathered for prayer in behalf of the little ones. Moses Curtis, one of the group stood joining in heartfelt prayer when a voice said "Moses go straight north quick". He looked around there was no one near. He could hardly credit his senses. The voice spoke again "go quick straight north speak to no one, Take no one with you but go quickly." taking his rifle he left without saying a word and out into the pitch darkness, straining every nerve a he went stumbling on but with a prayer in his heart. About a mile and a half from the house in another corn field he was stopped suddenly by a man and almost at his feet lay the little girl between two rows. He caught her to his breast and asked her where her little brother was. She replied "Oh he went home long ago," as he shuddered at the sound of a howling coyote she no doubt had heard for hours. As Moses trudged home, so dark he scarcely a thing could be seen, he stumbled upon the little boy in another corn row A rifle shot having been agreed upon as the signal that the children had been found, it was fired quickly. Soon the children were in the arms of their parents and a comforting and abiding testimony was ever in the heart of Moses Curtis.
When Father as a young man into to ask Grandfather Farrer’s permission to marry his daughter Mary, he said “Well I never knew when I was out searching that pitchy dark night for two lost children a boy and a girl, that boy would grow up to be my son also, well yes you may have my Mary for your wife but don't get lost again.
Written by Mary Thomas Monson
The following article appeared in the Salt Lake Telegram on Tuesday, July 8, 1947.
Woodruff makes Good Catch from Stream
En Route to Utah, July 8, 1847. With as much interest as Isaac Newton watched for the apple to fall or Benjamin Franklin for the lightning to descend on his kite string, Willford Woodruff today watched a tiny object floating upon the gently bobbing water of a stream in which there were excellent mountain trout.
He was using an artificial fly - the first time he had tried one or seen one tried. And it worked! In two or three hours of fishing, Mr. Woodruff caught 12 fish, more than half of them weighing tree-quarter of a pound each. All the rest of the "Izaak Waltons" in camp caught not more than three pounds, though they baited with fresh meat, worms and grasshopper - proof of the merits of the artificial fly.
In the afternoon, Mr. Woodruff went to Jim Bridger's house and traded his flintlock rifle for four buffalo robes. The robes were valued at $5 each and Mr. Woodruff valued his gun at $20.
Howard Egan traded two rifles, one which belonged to Edon Whipple and the other to George P Billings, for 19 buckskins, three elk skins and other articles for making moccasins. Many of the rest of us made small trade at the Fort without much success.
During the day Willard Richards dictated a letter to Robert Campbell at Winter Quarters giving him detailed results of our journey thus far. He also gave them news of the Mormon Battalion and of the Saints who had gone to San Francisco Bay on the good ship Brooklyn.
Thomas Bullock made copies of Hasting directions from Fort Bridger to California and of a map of the route, which he copied by hand from the originals belonging to Samuel Brannon. These were sent, along with the letter back to Winter Quarters, with a trapper named Colonel Findley.
Among those interested in Woodruff's artificial fly experiment was Robert T Thomas, valuable member of the expedition.
Editor's note. This is the 134th in a series of articles about the westward migration of the LDS pioneers.
With this article appeared a full column picture of Robert T Thomas (see the cover).