Early Settlers of Sugar House-James Muir and Elnora Staker Thomson
Contributor: JamesAnderson Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
James Muir Thomson was the sixth son, also the sixth child of John Strang Thomson and Catherine Muir; born in Crossgates, Fifeshire, Scotland, on June 23, 1862. His grandparents being John Thomson and Margaret Strang, and his great grandparents being James Thomson and Margaret Bowman. They all held to the Presbyterian religion. John Strang Thomson and family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and emigrated to the Salt Lake Valley in 1866 when James Muir Thomson was almost four years old. They left Crossgates, Scotland, on May 19, 1866 sailing our of the Firth-of-Forth on the steamer Leith. They arrived in London, England, on May 21, 1866. They sailed from London on Wednesday, May23, 1866, on the ship American Congress arriving in New York on July 4, 1866-all in the same year. The voyage took 42 days.
From New York they went to the Missouri River where on July 24, 1866 They departed westward with a company of saints under Captain Miller, with Captain Warner second in command. Records indicate that they joined Captain Nebeker's company, Fifth Church Train. Captain Peter Nebeker's ox train of 62 wagons left Wyoming, Nebraska, on August 4, 1866. There were about 400 British and Scandinavian emigrants who had crossed the Atlantic in the ships American Congress, Kenilworth, and Humbolt. By telegram to President Brigham Young, it was learned that the company was at Fort Laramie on September 13th, they all arrived safely in Salt Lake Valley, on September 28th. There were no mishaps except the loss of two head of cattle. They reached their destination in 66 days after leaving New York and exactly 108 days from the time they left their home in Scotland
On their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley on this date, they were sent down to the church farm, a large tract of land near the Jordan River about four miles south of the city. They disbanded the following day coming aback to Sugar House and moving into a two room adobe house belonging to Mr. Young on what was then the Curtis Place, which was about a quarter of a mile north of the Sugar Mill on 11th East. In 1871 John S. Strang Thomson filed on what was later known as the old Dudler Place just below Suicide Rock in the mouth of Parley's Canyon, about two and a half miles above the Paper Mill.When he gave up this homestead he bought an acre of land with a two room log cabin on it. It was located on what was then 12th S. but is now 21st S. This was just east of the adobe Sugar House Ward House and school house. It was here that James Thomson received his schooling being taught by his older brother John who was teaching at that time. The Church was torn down and a new one replaced it. The school house was also torn down and what was known as the 29th County School was built in its place.
James' father built a store on the corner of his lot and for quite a while engaged in the store business. He also ran the first post office in Sugar House from this location. After this the family acquired ten acres of land known as the Van Horn property. This property lies between what is now 13th and 15th East with Westminster Ave. running through the center of it. It was then an alfalfa patch. To the south was the John Darren place with sage brush on it and south of that was the State Prison.
Afterwards John S Thomson drew some lots on the school section opened north east of the prison about and around the vicinity of 19th East between 13th and 21st S. This ground was later given to the children who wanted to try farming. James M. Thomson took ten acres on the corner of 17th S and 19th East running south and west from there.
Elnora E. Staker was born at the old Staker home on the east side of 11th East between what is now Wilson and Garfield Avenues. She was born September 1, 1866 and was the youngest daughter of William Henry Staker and Catherine Maria Parsons. Her Grandfather and Grandmother being Conrad Staker and Cornelia Snook. Her Great-Great Grandfather and Grandmother were Nathan Staker and Elizabeth Rapp. This latter Nathan Staker was the emigrant ancestor. Elnora's Grandfather Nathan and Great Grandfather Conrad Staker were Methodist Ministers.
The majority of Nathan Staker's family were converted to the Mormon faith by some of the early Canadian missionaries, probably the Prophet's brother, or the Pratts, and emigrated to Illinois where was located Zion at the time.
Her father, William H Staker cut timber from a stump, seasoned it and make his own wagon (except for turning out the hubs and ironing it). He got it made and set up in his yard before he had it taken to the blacksmith to put the iron on.
In 1852 the family emigrated to Salt Lake Valley, crossing the plains in Henry W. Miller Company ox train, which arrived in the Valley September 27, 1852. They settled in Sugar House. He also homesteaded 60 acres between 21st S and Wilson and 11th W. and 13th E., keeping the 10 acres between Wilson and Garfield Ave. He kept the east 45 rods for his home and farm. In order to acquire a title of the land in the city, President Brigham Young had some of the early settlers take up homesteads. These were divided up and deeded in 5 acre tracts so that each could own their own home with enough land to provide for them. Elnora's mother outlived her father and for years while this part of the city was being built up and sub-divided she was in great demand in signing Quick Claim Deeds to clear up titles to properties in the area.
James and Elnora met as children and grew up in the same ward where they in later years attended many parties, candy pulls, dances, and ice skating that the young people enjoyed at the time. They were married in the spring of 1888 on the 25th of April. They rented the two south rooms of her mother's home and lived there until their first child, a son, was born of May 26, 1889. They were later sealed in the Logan Temple on the June 17, 1891.
Their next move was up on the bench to the Haskinson home located on 20th East and Canyon Road. This house was originally built by Brigham Young and was a long adobe house. This had been used at one time for a fort and as a protection for the people form the Indians. While living here James built a two room house on the aforementioned ten acres at 17th S. and 19th E. which his father had acquired as school land. On its completion they moved in and later added two more rooms and also a lean to for use as a summer kitchen.
In addition to farming his own ten acres he leased forty more and also farmed ten acres of his father's land, making a large area of land to farm. Besides farming he at one time had a job of hauling paper from the old paper mill in the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to Salt Lake City. He also hauled a good deal of the rock that was used in building the wall around the old State Prison on 21st South between 13th and 18th East. Shortly after moving into his new home he planted some Box Elder trees for shade also two or three rows of fruit trees together with some black currants and other berry bushes, a row of pie plants and some Sage for seasoning. all these he kept alive the first few years by hauling water from the spring over in Emigration Creek. He filled barrels for this and also for drinking and wash water. He also hauled drinking water from the State Prison, after he obtained some meter rights from the Pleasant View Water Vo. out of Parleys Canyon to use on the farm. A little later with help of his brother, John, he dug a 65 foot well and then he completely bricked the inside from top to bottom.
Both James and Elnora were active in their church and in 1911 after attending the Pleasant View Branch, Parley's Ward was organized. Elnora Staker Thomson was called to 2nd counselor in the Relief Society, and shortly after James was called to be 2nd counselor in the Young Men's Mutual Association, Herbert Savage as Bishop and John W. Beardall 1st counselor and Alfred Gardiner as 2nd counselor. Elnora held her calling as counselor for 12 years.
Shortly after this James started with as illness which culminated in his death on December 13, 1915, leaving Elnora with eight of their nine children to raise by herself. One boy John (Jay) having passed away in 1900 at the age of eight years. The baby at this time was only two years of age. A son, Kenneth was called home from his mission shortly before his father's death and with the help of the next oldest boy, Lester, helped support the family until their respective marriages.
Elnora struggled and did many back breaking hours of hard work of any and all kinds, in order to keep her family going. She arose in the summer time around 4:00 a.m. went to the orchard, picked fruit and currants loaded them in boxes and drove her horse and buggy to the fruit market in town, sold her fruit and returning around 6:00. She also picked fruit on the neighboring farms taking two or three of the children with her and receiving $.01 per pound and finally up to $.03 per pound. She also picked many other kinds of fruit being especially quick and dexterous which was shown when on her sixtieth birthday she picked 60 bushels of apples!
In her spare time she visited and helped the sick, quilted numerous quilts, always having one or two for her children as they married. She also worked as a practical nurse going out on cases where she stayed night and day, keeping house for the patients as well as nursing them, On maternity cases she stayed two weeks caring for mother, baby as many other children as were in the household, doing the washing, ironing, housekeeping, cooking, etc. all for fifteen dollars a week.
She kept active and also kept her children active in the church over the years, teaching them also in the home the blessings of keeping the tithe, of courage, honesty, faith, and hard work. Whe well knew that idleness in the Devil's workshop and often said rather than have her boys idle , she would have them dig holes in the yard and then fill them up again. She was an active Relief Society Visiting Teacher up to her early eighties and lived to see all of her family of 3 boys and 5 girls married and with families.
She lived to be in her ninety sixth year, passing away March 21, 1962 just a few months before her birthday September 1st. As far as was known no one heard her bemoan her fate or complain at life's burdens and trials, and was always heard singing at every task she had to perform. At her passing she was still living on the same corner where she had come as a young married woman. James and Elnora left a posterity of 23 grandchildren, sixty Great-grandchildren and 12 Great-great grandchildren. (at the time of this writing in February 1966).
I, Tanya Lane Thomson Smith, received this history from my grandfather, William Lester Thomson, James and Elnora's 2nd son.