WRITINGS OF ABRAM S. WORKMAN
(Dated April 22, 1930)
[see also 1937 version]
I have been requested to write some of my life history but I am sure I don't know what I can write that would be of any great interest to anybody but I will say I was born Oct. 29 1852, in the 12th Ward of Salt Lake City, Utah. It was on a lot my father drew when the city was laid off.
My father came here in 1848. When I was born this country was very new and when the law of plural marriage was practiced by the Mormon people my mother was a plural wife. She was sealed to my father, Jacob L. Workman by Brigham Young in the old Council House before the Endowment house was built, for time and all eternity in Feb. 1852. My father had already had 2 families. His first wife had died in Mount Pisgah, Iowa. He also married again before he left Mt. Pisgah and had, by this time, 2 children by his second wife and 5 by his first wife; also Grandfather (John) Workman was living with him so he had quite a family. My father was told by President Young to take another wife and as President Young was looked upon as the mouth piece of God my father complied with it and my mother believed sincerely it was a call from the Lord and they both considered it as pure a marriage as ever was contracted and they both kept their marriage vows till the day of their death.
About the first thing I can remember (I being my mother's first born) was living in a little house alone with my mother (that father had built for grandmother on our lot) after grandfather had died. My mother had lost her other children she had after me so I was quite a boy when my sister Jane came. What I remember was I was quite badly spoiled. One day mother left me asleep on the bed and was down to Aunt Fanny's (that was my father's other wife) helping her to do something and I woke up and began to bawl for mother. She being busy she sent one of the girls up to get me but no, that just made me bellow louder for mother. Father working out in the lot understood what was going on and the first thing I knew he stepped in with a stick in his hand; it came down on my back and I had no trouble getting down off from that bed and out doors without any further help. I never forgot that lesson and don't remember doing such a thing again.
When I can first remember Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Daniel H. Wells were the first presidency of the church. I well remember them. They all lived within 3 blocks of our house and I saw them many times and knew them as well as any boy would know a man. Lorenzo Snow lived on the same block we did and they were our neighbors.
I can well remember what was called the Grasshopper War when the grasshoppers destroyed the crop and the people were left without bread. My father was off on a mission at the time and the hard times the people had to live and how hungry I used to get. I well remember old Brother Chase that had the mill where Liberty Park now is and that old mill, and my mother going there to get something for us to eat and if there was anything in the mill that would make bread she always got it but there was many times there was nothing in the mill.
I will relate another circumstance that happened at that time while my father was absent. My mother used to relate it many times. She had been around the city trying to buy a little flour or anything else that would make a little bread but everybody was out of bread or too near to spare any. She finally went in to Ezra T. Benson's place. He was one of the 12 apostles but was on a mission. Sister Benson said, “I will not sell you any but I have a little flour and will loan you a panfull.” How glad my mother was to take that home to her family.
Shortly after that my father came home and I remember he had a few sacks of wheat he had been able to pick up somewhere on his way home. When he got them made into flour the first thing my mother did was to take Sister Benson's flour home. Her husband had not yet returned and she was out of flour with nothing to eat in the house. She was pleased and said, “You came just in time.” She said to her daughter, quoting scripture, “Cast your bread on the water and after many days it shall return.”
I remember very well when the hand cart company came in. I remember they stopped on the square where the city and county building now stands. My father sent 3 of us boys to take them some green stuff, corn and green beans and other things and we saw many people bringing them many good things, melons, squashes, that would be appreciated by people that had been out on the road many days with nothing of the kind. But it always seemed strange to me in a few days all those people were located and became the people of the Territory with homes. It seemed marvelous how such a new country could take care of so many new people but sometimes people would come in late in the fall and with nothing to go on for the winter then they would be placed around in different families to keep them till spring. I remember my father with his big family taking an old English woman by the name of Fairchild and keeping her all winter and I remember how glad we were when she left. Another winter he kept a man by the name of Fountain White that had his feet frozen in the mountains. And all this with no pay.
The next thing of note was when Johnson's Army came and the big move south in 1857. There has been lots written about this but I will write a little of my own observations at that time and for years after or as long as we were not a state but just a territory our governors and judges and all high officers were appointed by the President of the United States. Now the people of Utah were taught the principles of purity and that adultery was the next sin to murder and when a judge was sent here from the East and began to introduce his evil practice on some of our women it was natural that somebody would want to kill him so he left and went back to Washington and reported that the Mormons were in rebellion and the army was sent out to put down the rebellion and install a new governor.
Brigham Young had been appointed Governor by the United States at that time and he said the President had no right to send troops in here without first being asked by the Governor to send them in and as there is no rebellion here and no need of soldiers we will resist them with all our might. We will not allow them to enter the Territory; so he sent out a company of men to stop them and his instructions were “Run off their stock, burn their trains, but shed no blood only in self defense.” So they did that and many was the beef cattle and mules and horses they ran off and burned one train of wagons and supplies and they held them back till the snow came in the mountains so deep they could not get through. They brought those animals in here and put them out on the Church Island in Salt Lake. I saw many of them as they were driven through the city.
The next spring they sent Colonel Kane through by California to investigate matters and when this report went in it was found there was no cause for sending soldiers in here and the Mormons were forgiven for all and they were to pay for what stock they had taken so the thing was settled and the soldiers allowed to come in. But Brigham Young would not trust them among the people so he caused the people of Salt Lake Valley and north to move south and prepare everything so if there was any bad faith shown the city and everything would be burned and the country left desolate. And according to the contract the soldiers were not to camp within 40 miles of the city so they went through out west and made what was known as Camp Floyd.
Now this great move that had cost the government so many thousands of dollars had been designed to destroy Mormonism; the Lord had turned it to be the greatest blessing to them for it made work for everybody that wanted work and made sale for all they could raise at a good price. I knew one man who raised one acre of carrots. He raised 1500 bushels on one acre and sold them for a dollar a bushel making $1500.00. That was a fortune them days and when the army was disbanded everything was sold out for one tenth of its value so it brought many thousands of dollars to the people here.
I will now write a few things I remember about the big move. My father at the time that it was decided to move was at Echo Canyon guarding the soldiers from coming in till the people got ready for them to come. He was released to come in and move his family. He just had one yoke of oxen and one wagon and 2 families. He took one family (he moved his families to Provo) it took 2 days to go down to Provo and 2 to come back so he was 4 days going down and back with the first family then another 2 days going with the other family. That was my first trip away from the city. Us children thought it was fine to travel on the road and camp out. My little sister Jane (she was less than 2 years old but could talk very plain for a child of that age) would sing “Janie ride to Provo.”
My father had a friend at Provo by the name of Powell. We moved in his yard by his house and we lived out of doors as well as I can remember as he had a family and a little adobe house with only 2 rooms and as I remember we lived mostly on fish. They could go down to the lake and with a seine they could catch wagon loads of suckers. I don't remember just how long we staid there but I remember how tickled we were when the word came that we could go back to Salt Lake and I remember just how the city looked when we got back. The streets and door yards had grown up to grass, the currents were ripe and I thought there never could be a more beautiful place. I still remember how we all felt to get back home. In a few days after we got back home my brother Cornelius was born the 27 of July 1858.
I will now tell a little about our schools that I attended. The first school I attended was held in the adobe meeting and school house of the 12 Ward of Salt Lake City. It was supposed at time that the first thing a child should learn was to know all the letters of the alphabet before he tried to learn anything else therefore he was taken up in class 4 or 5 times per day and practiced or drilled in saying the letters. Each practice lasted about 5 minutes. The balance of the time he was supposed to sit very quiet on those benches that had been made for grown people to sit on with their feet hanging down. The master was provided with a long willow and was authorized to use it on any child that did not obey the rules.
The next thing that was taught after learning the letters was to spell words and that was about as far as I ever got in school was to spell out of the green backed speller and I could spell every word in it. We generally had 3 months school per year, the parents paying the teacher and buying the books.
I will speak about my baptism. My father always baptized his own children when 8 years of age. I had a half brother Joseph N. Workman who was 8 the 15th of Aug. 1860, but I would not be 8 till the 29 of October so he waited for me to get 8 before he baptized J.N. He had time on the 28th, the day before I was 8, so he went up City Creek and baptized us. I remember it was a dark, cloudy day, and the next morning the 29th, there was a foot of snow in the city.
Later that fall father rented Erastus Snow's farm at South Bountiful. He wanted Aunt Fanny (that was his other wife) to move up there on it because she had 2 boys. One, David, was 5 years older than me and was big enough to do quite a bit of work on the farm but she would not leave the city. So he moved my mother up there and we lived there 2 years. Aunt Fanny's boys were up there most of the time as there was nothing they could do in the city. All the teams we had was oxen. We did all the plowing and farm work with them. The next spring after I was 8 years old David would hold the plow and I would drive the oxen. I remember how he got a laugh on me one day. I was walking with the whip driving the oxen, he was holding the plow. Around and around we would go till my legs got so tired I could hardly go and I said, “Dave, let's let the oxen rest, I am tired.” Then he laughed.
It is surprising how intelligent those oxen were. When I was a very little boy I could yoke them up and hitch them on a wagon or a plow. The yoke consisted of a log of wood about 5 feet long. I would carry it up to the off ox and stand it on end against his neck and take out one of the bows and put it around his neck and put it through the yoke and put a bow key in it to hold it in place, then take out the other bow and raise up the other end of the yoke and bellow at the other ox and he would come walking right under and put his head under the yoke so I could put the bow on him and in through the yoke and fasten it in with another key.
Father fixed a cart out of the hind wheels of a wagon with the reach for a tongue and I used to drive the oxen from Bountiful to Salt Lake 8 miles alone when I was only 9 years old. The fall before I was 10 years old Father was called to go to what we called Dixie and settle there and help build that country. It was the policy of Brigham Young to take up all the country where there was water and a chance to make settlements in Utah by our people and keep others out. That was why he called quite a number of people there in the fall of 1862. We went there. We had 2 Wagons, two yoke of oxen on one wagon and one yoke on the other; and we had 2 cows so we yoked them up and put them on the other so we had 2 yoke on each wagon. It was a little less than 350 miles. We were 3 weeks and 3 days making the trip but we made better time than most anybody else as most of them were 4 weeks making the trip.
But before I leave this country Salt Lake and Bountiful, I will tell a little more of our experience to show the condition that existed here at that time. At the time all the manufactured goods we got here had to be brought in from the east with ox teams from the Missouri river; from where Omaha now stands it was one thousand miles. It took all summer to make a trip there and back so the people had to make all they needed at home and all they could make and among other things they started a tannery to make leather and used red pine bark to tan with. They could not wait long enough for it to get well tanned. They needed it too bad and that was used by the people to shoe their families and my father would try his hand making shoes for his children and they were a poor substitute for shoes. They would run over and the poor leather would stretch out of shape when it would get wet and shrink up and get hard when it got dry like rawhide. I remember when we lived at Bountiful I had a pair of them and one dark night we started for the school house to attend a spelling school as we called it. That was one of the entertainments for the young folks at that time. It had turned so dark we could not follow the road so I stepped in a hole that had drifted full of snow and when pulling my foot out one of my shoes came off and it was so dark we could not find it that night, so I went back home with one foot bare. The next morning the new snow was more than a foot deep so that prevented me from going back the next morning after it. (it was a mile and a quarter to the school house.) that was a hard winter and the ground was covered all winter so I had no chance to get it till spring and by that time it was not any good but there was not any chance to get any more that year for one pair a year was all we could have. But that did not keep me in the house all the time.
One day when there was no one at home but mother and us children, our cows started off for Salt Lake as they had done before and we had to follow them and bring them. There was no one to go after them but mother or me and I was barefooted and the snow was several inches deep and just trails broke through it. I saw Mother could not do it so out I went. The cows had the trail so to get around them I had to take the snow. But I got around them and brought them back and put them in the coral.
In 1862 the first telegraph line came in to Salt Lake. I remember what a great thing it was considered. Everybody was talking about it. My father, me and brother Joseph went to see it. And to think that fellow could talk to people a thousand miles off and get an answer back just like talking to somebody in the same room was remarkable.
Now we are in Dixieland, 344 miles from Salt Lake City. How homesick we all were and such a country! My uncle Andrew Jackson Workman lived in what was called Virgin City and he was up to see us that fall before we left to go down there and he bragged on what a fine place it was so there was where we landed about 15 of Dec. 1862. We had encountered some snow before we landed there but there the ground was dry and the weather was warm. We had 3 yoke of oxen and 2 cows and one little mare; nothing to feed them only to turn them out to pick for themselves and I tell you it was poor picking. Early next spring there was a call for teams and men to go back to the Missouri river for the poor saints that would be there and my father anxious to help. There was one wagon and 4 yoke of oxen and a man was to be sent from Virgin City. My father had about the only wagon in town fit to go but his oxen were all too poor to go so he traded his only mare for a yoke of oxen and sent them and the wagon after the poor.
At that time about all the work there was to do was making roads and ditches for irrigation. That was all done with pick and shovel. About all the enjoyment we had was the meeting and dancing and sometimes a home made theater but with all our hardships we had a jolly time there. And we had some of the men and women that were in the church from the beginning and knew Joseph Smith and had gone through the hardship in the early rise of the church and had a strong testimony of the gospel and had gone through the trouble of that time and they were thankful for the peaceful times we were having although they were very poor. It is funny how when everybody is poor how they get used to it and find lots of joy in living. I remember my father took the lead in organizing a Sunday School -- the first one I ever attended and the first one that was organized in that place. And I remember how I enjoyed it and I always was a great lover of Sunday School and that has been my main work in the church. And when I was a boy I would rather miss most anything than the Sunday School and as I grew up wherever I lived I have always been a Sunday School worker and it was there in Virgin City I got my first testimony of the truth of the Gospel. It was there I grew to Manhood with many hardships but many pleasures.
I have thought of leaving this and saying no more about the times we had but I have decided to add a few reminiscences to the condition that existed at that time. The Bible says that Adam fell that man might be and man is that he might have joy and it is surprising how little people can get along with and still be cheerful and happy. When you are hungry you can enjoy thinking how good a piece of bread would taste if you had it to taste of. I have been that way many times and I thought that if I could have all the good bread I could eat I would ask for nothing better.
I will relate a circumstance that happened when I was a boy 14. The state had appropriated a few hundred dollars to build a road up the Hurricane hill near where the road now goes up there from the little town of Leverkin going to Zions Canyon. That was about 4 or 5 miles from Virgin where we lived. There were about 15 men went there to work, my father among them, and he took me with him. They would allow me half what they paid the men and it kept me out of mischief. We camped on the creek about a mile from the work and would walk up and back every morning and night and carry our lunch and water for the day. We worked 10 hours per day with pick and shovel. We had to be on the work at 3 AM, one hour for noon, then stay there till 6 PM, then down to camp, get supper which was not a long job for all any of us had was what we called corn dodger and molasses. Corn dodger consisted of corn meal stirred up with a little water and baked and it was as solid as a brick and looked something like one. Now after supper was over we would all gather around the camp fire and sing songs and tell yarns and laugh till we cried sometimes for 2 hours or more. You would have thought we were the happiest bunch on earth. Then lay down on the ground with our blankets till daylight, then up and swallow our dodger and back to work when the sun struck the highest peaks.
We were not always that bad off. Nearly everybody had a few cents and other cattle. When it rained the grass grew, the cows gave milk, the steers got fat and we had milk and butter and beef. Sometimes we used to celebrate the holidays and what celebrations we had. Every man, woman and child would turn out although many were barefooted, especially the boys. We would dance and play and have a good time.
I will tell you about the fair we used to have after we got to raising fruit and other things. We would have a day appointed for the fair and everybody anywhere near by would turn out from all the little towns and ranches and bring their most choice fruits and melons and we would have them spread out on tables and a committee appointed to look them over and judge which was the best of each kind. The owner would receive a slip of paper stating he had taken first or second prize and after all was gone over and the prizes awarded by giving each a slip of paper we would all surround the tables and have a feast and eat everything up that we could eat. We would generally have a couple of barrels of weak beer by the door with cups for all to drink to their hearts content but nobody could get drunk on it. Then we would have games and finish up the day and a dance at night. Those were times never to be forgotten.
I will speak about our government. About all the government we had was the church and there was never a more loyal bunch whenever the bishop wanted anything done he would make a call on the people and they were always ready to respond. If there were any difficulties in the ward it was settled by the teachers or the bishop.
About this time, 1866, the Indians began to make us trouble. The Navajos would cross the Colorado river and make raids and steal stock and run them off over the river and they killed several people. It started as well as I remember in 1866 at the time of the Black Hawk war in Sanpete Co., and other places was going on. But we had had no trouble in Dixie. But a man by the name of Dock Whitmer had a ranch at Pipe Springs that was south and east from Virgin 45 or 50 miles. He had cattle, horses and a herd of sheep on the ranch. They brought the sheep in at night and corralled them. The herder slept in the house. Mr. Whitmer and his hired man named McEntire rode out on the range one morning and when night came they did not come back to the ranch. The coral gate was open next morning and the sheep gone and as it had snowed during the night there was no trace of where the sheep had gone or where the men were. The word was sent in and a crowd sent out. It was suspicioned the Indians were responsible for it. It kept on snowing till the snow was very deep -- over 2 feet – making it very difficult to do anything or to search for the sheep or the missing men. They finally found a few native Indians that lived in the country. They thought they found something on them that belonged to the missing men and through excitement they could not get any information from the Indians. They shot them down and after several days they found and took prisoner another Indian. But the Indian was so scared and excited they could get nothing out of him. They kept him and finally by questioning him they found out that a band of Navajos had crossed the Colorado river and had killed those two men and then went to the ranch and drove off the sheep. Then he led them to a place where the men were killed but they were covered up in the deep snow so they had to ride around in the snow for sometime before they found the bodies. They then tried to find the sheep but the snow had favored the Indians so they found where they had taken them to the river and crossed them on the ice by carrying sand on the ice. And they got them clear out of the country before they found out where they had gone.
That was the beginning of many years of trouble with those Indians. The Piede (Piute?) Indians lived around us but always seemed to be friendly. Sometimes we thought they were helping them but we never could prove anything on them. Now this trouble started, it continued. It seemed as though the Indians in the south thought if Black Hawk could succeed in the north they could, and the trouble continued till it was thought advisable to call in all the outside settlements so all that part that is now known as Kane and Garfield counties were abandoned. That left the little town of Virgin right out on the frontier and the most exposed of any other town. There were about 30 or 35 families lived there. We raised but very little feed of any kind and had to depend on the range for our teams and stock. We had to sent them out to feed during the day with armed men to guard them and then guard them at night and put a guard over them. So much guarding every boy of 14 or over had to be a man. I have been out with men on both night and day guard many times. There was no telegraph or telephone there at that time so when there was trouble at one place to notify other place they would send a boy on a horse and I was very often that boy. The towns were from 8 to 10 miles apart. I have been out both day and night on such trips when only 14 or 15 years old with a six gun strapped on me.
There was more of less trouble in our family as there is in most families of that kind and oh how I longed to be a man and remember how proud my mother was when I got big enough to take a team and go out and get a load of wood. I remember the first wood I ever hauled alone. A neighbor wanted me to take his oxen and wagon and haul wood on shares. I was about 14. The wood was easy got and not far off and I got 6 loads one week, 3 for him and 3 for myself. They were not very big loads but the pile I had looked big to me and my mother, and did not we both feel proud!
I don't think there was ever any boy that thought more of his mother than I did of mine. Whenever I was off anywhere and got anything nice to eat like fruit or candy I always thought of my mother and saved part of it and took it to her. I well remember me and another boy done a service for a man and he gave me some peaches. I ate part of mine and I said, “I am going to take the rest of mine to my mother.” He said, “You think dam site more of your mother that I do mine. I shall eat mine.” And he did, but I took part of mine home to my mother;
I will write a little more about the Indian trouble. After those outside settlements were called in all stock was moved north and west of the frontier towns. And for a time they were kept from the Indians as the Indians came in from the southeast. But when we thought we had them shut out they got so bold they came in between the towns and gathered a herd of cattle and started off with them and it was several days before the cattle were missed and they found out they were gone. But when they found out what was up and got their tracks they soon ran then down. They seemed to think they had got clear away and did not think anybody was following them. They camped in a deep canyon below where Kanab now is and the men got right upon them early in the morning before they had broken camp so they brought the cattle back and left the Indians there. They thought one of them got in the rocks and made his escape but that put a stop to them coming for 2 or 3 years.
By the time I was 16 Aunt Fanny's children had all flown the coop but her youngest daughter. And Aunt Fanny had taken her and gone to Salt Lake on a visit and I think as well as I can remember they staid up there 2 years. That left Father with mother and her children. And that year we took the contract to herd the cowherd for six months. I did the herding; father looked after what little farm we had. I was getting 3 cents per head per day for herding and I had an average of more than 100 head. I herded them on foot and barefooted at that. My pay came mostly after harvest. We would get a little flour or something to eat along but could not get anything that would bring me a pair of shoes for nearly 3 months; then a young man came home that had been off to work and he had a pair of shoes that needed half soling. He said, “You may have them for $2.00 on the herd bill.” I tell you I was quick to take them. I found another man that had a piece of sole leather and he would half sole them for another dollar. You don't know how good that seemed to go out with a pair of shoes on my feet for the country was covered with sharp rocks and prickly pears.
That was a long six months but it came to an end at last. Our farm lay along the Virgin river. When there was lots of snow in the mountains we had lots of high water. The valley was narrow and on each side of the river and about that time it started to cut the land away. And it washed nearly all of our land away and it continued washing the land away until lots of places had to be abandoned. Father bought a place out south of town about 8 miles where there was a spring of water, about enough to water 8 acres, and we moved out there and started a place known as “Gool's Ranch”.
At the time the railroad came in from the east and west to Utah there was lots of work and also work a Pioche, a mining camp west in Nevada. Quite a lot of the men and boys went out to these places to work and would come back with money and nice clothes but my father and mother would never consent for me to go. So I staid at home to take care and help them and I was often embarrassed when I did not have clothes to equal them and no money to spend. I was often looked down on by the young folk.
But I began to desire to do something for myself and I greatly desired to have a home of my own so the spring of 1872 when I was 19 past, I thought I had them fairly well fixed up on the ranch I hired out to work on the Kolob herd for 6 months.
But before that when I was 18 I was called to go with a company of men to guard the country against Indians as they had become troublesome again. We went out to Kanab and from there to the ..... I was out 37 days that time. That was in 1870. I was called out in 1871. The 1870 I was under the command of Edward Dalton of Parowan. In 1871 I was under the command of James Andrews of St. George.
Wile working on the Kolob ranch there was another family living on a ranch 4 miles from the ranch I was working by the name of Brewer. They had a girl 2 years younger than me. We started going together while on the mountain.
And after moving down in the fall we were married the 17 of November 1872 I was two weeks over 20 and she lacked till Jan. 27 of being 18. We went to live at the Gool ranch with my folks. My father was putting an addition to his house. He said if I would help him I could have one of the rooms to live in that winter and he would help me next summer to build me one. So we lived with them or in one of those rooms that winter and the next summer I made adobies. Father laid them up and I did the most of the other work myself. We made us a one room adobe house and we thought we were about as comfortably fixed as most anybody. I traded for a 2nd hand cookstove and made a table and the most of our other furniture. It is surprising how little people can get along with and be happy. I think we were just as happy and as proud of our home as some people are nowadays with all their fine things, especially when they owe for it. We did not owe anybody anything and were not afraid of anybody turning use out of doors. What we had we had made and we did not have to worry about paying for it.
That year, 1873, Aug. 24, our first baby came, a girl.. We named her partly after her mother and partly after her mother's mother. Her mother's name was Millie Bethenia. Her mother's mother's name was Rebecca Clarissa so we named our baby Clarissa Bethenia. Some name. That was the time when the St. George Temple was being built. I went down there and worked something like a month on that building and a while on the road to Trumble to make a road to haul lumber from there for the Temple. That was all donations. We did not get any money for that and other work.
I was away from home considerable of the time. The next first of June the Indians threatened to give us more trouble from across the Colorado river so it was decided to send a bunch of men down to the crossing of the river to guard the crossing and build a fort there so I went again under the command of Thales Haskal and Andrew Gibbins. Was called that time for 3 months or until the trouble with the Indians was settled. We started along about the fore part of June 1874 and got back home the last of August or the first of Sept. 1874.
I will now write something of the condition that existed in the country there at that time and the way people had to make a living. The farms were very small and making a living from them was quite difficult. In looking back on that time I wonder how people managed to live at all. We used to raise a little fruit and peddle it out to the northern settlements but our mainstay to get our bread was to raise and make molasses and take it north and trade it for wheat and get it made into flour and bring it back home to feed our families on. My father did most of the peddling of the fruit and molasses but he being well along in years and not well it fell to my lot to take our molasses and go and try to raise flour to last us through the winter, so I started off with a wagon and 2 yoke of steers with 2 barrels of molasses. One yoke of the steers had never been worked before I started off with them. My young brother Cornelius went with me to look after the team when I did the peddling.
In 2 or 3 days we came to Cedar City where we began to try to trade our goods for wheat. The price was a gallon of molasses for a bushel of wheat. But the trade was slow. We traveled from place to place without much success. Not being used to peddling we made slow progress.. We soon got discouraged but about that time we met a young man that was acquainted over in Sevier County. He said if we would cross the mountains over there was no trouble to trade our molasses for a gallon for 1 ½ bushels of wheat.
We had no money to buy feed for our steers and depended mostly on turning them out on the grass on the road but this had been a dry year and very little grass was to be found. But in 3 days we found ourselves at Joseph City on the Sevier river. This place was very new, a few log houses but some beautiful farms with crops on the m. It sure looked like heaven to us. Such beautiful wheat fields and potato patches. We were hungry and our oxen were starving. There was not much hay raised there yet that we could get but about the first man we met was an old friend of our father. He said, “I have no hay but I have a piece of volunteer oats here in my lot. You can have all you want to pull and carry out to your oxen.” Was not that a treat ! The oats were just turning ripe. I tell you they looked different next morning.
We got some of those nice potatoes and some butter and bread and we all felt we had found heaven on earth. And to make it more delightful there were 2 or3 families that were well acquainted with our father and they did all they could for us. When we told them our story about Dixie and the hardships we had to go through they were very anxious for us to tell father to move out of there and come on there where he could get a good farm by just taking it up. And as we traveled further north we found fields of grain and crops of all kind for miles on each side of the road that was sure a revelation to us. We had never seen anything of the kind before.
We were too early for them. There were a few people that had thrashed so we got a few days work for wheat and to think we got 2 bushels of wheat for a days work. That was wonderful. That was more than we could get for our molasses for the time it took us to go and come. We finally traded our molasses for 1 ¼ bushels of wheat for a gallon of molasses and we took it to the mill and got it all in flour. When we got it loaded we had about one ton of flour and that looked big to us.
We visited our friends in Joseph City on our way back and we found them out of flour. They had nice stacks of wheat but did not have it thrashed but were ready to thrash. So we let them have a little of our flour to last them a few days till they could get thrashed. So we partially paid them for their kindness to us. And they charged us again to have father sell out and all of us move out there. And we surely thought that was what we would do and could imagine ourselves out there with a nice farm and a nice crop on it. After about another week of hard traveling we returned home with our flour and all well.
The people had worried about us but were glad to see us and after telling our father of what we had seen he listened till we got through then he said, “I was called to Dixie and here I will stay till I am called away.” And so he did and in a few years after, he was called away and we laid him to rest on the hill a little north of the town of Virgin. But that broke up or moving to Sevier or Joseph City.
After returning from my trip to the Colorado river on November 21, 1874, our second girl was born. We named her Lucy Emma.
And so time went on for that winter and the next summer I worked on the side whenever I could get anything to do and raised a little crop. But when winter came I decided to move in town and go with some of my wife's folks and work on the mountain as what other work we could find to do and try, and try and make a little something that we could live on. I was partly successful. I made some shingles and got a little lumber which I traded for other things we needed.
I will relate one circumstance. Myself with Ralph Campbell went up on the mountain to get out some saw logs to haul to the mill which was about 10 or 12 miles on the creek below where we got the logs, down a very rough mountain. We had ox teams and of course it took a long time to go anywhere. When we left our logs and started for home both tired and hungry and night was on we had been about 3 or 4 days. I thought of my home. What it would be like when I got there. A nice clean room with a wife to meet me and a warm supper ready. But not so with my pardner who had lost his wife a few years before and was living in a little hut with nobody to welcome him home, the house cold and dirty. Nothing to eat ready. My heart almost bled for him. But I had no idea that the time was so short when I would be left like he was.
I cannot write the particulars but enough to say that was my last trip to the mountains. My wife was stricken, as you might say, and I was obliged to stay by her the most of the time for some months and on the first day of June 1876 she passed away leaving me 2 little girls. (Note: the baby, Millie Rebecca, was buried with her mother.) When we laid her to rest and I returned home or the place that had been home which was home no more, I felt as if I was lost forever and wished I was beside her on the hill. But there were the 2 babies she had left in my care that must be taken care of and I was broke and in debt. Even the clothes she was buried in I owed for. And work and money was hard to get. My folks and friends did all they could for me to comfort and encourage me. My sister Fanny took the children and took care of them for awhile.
I secured a job of work for a month at a ranch on the mountains but there was but very little money in it. I managed to get a little to pay my store bill and a few things for the children that they needed. That was all. While working on this ranch I worked chopping and hauling fence timber to make fences on the ranch. My mind ran on my condition and my troubles and I composed the following song:
I once had a home that was happy and free
The cares of this world were nothing to me.
I had no desire this wide world to roam
But the place of my heart was my own dearest home.
But death like a serpent with poisoned wing
Has blown through my home and has left there her sting
For my wife has departed. In her grave she was lain
And has left me to mourn until we meet again.
Now I am lonely. My home is no more.
There is no wife to greet me with a smile at the door.
And what is a home without her smile to cheer.
There was none on this earth that to me was so dear.
Come all you that have a home that is happy and gay.
Be kind to your wife for you don't know the day
When you may be parted and left lonely like me
When the days of the past you will long for to see.
I next took a job in the timber cutting lumber and hueing and squaring it but the man went broke and I lost what I had earned there. I finally took my children and went back to my father and mother's home as they needed me there as father was getting quite feeble and having quite a large family they needed somebody to look after the boys and find them something to do to make a living. But the place was no longer home. I was never contented and was always lonesome.
I worked with them some over 2 years and Father died and the boys had got able to take care of themselves and Mother, and I was still discontent and unhappy. I could not help but want a home of my own and my thoughts ran on the subject all the time. I decided to leave that part of the country and seek a new place somewhere but I did not know where I should go, but I felt that something was calling me somewhere and I composed the following lines:
I am tired of Dixie, of rock and of hill
I am going now to leave it if it be the Lord's will.
For there's no place around me
That I call my own/
I have no place in Dixie to make me a home/
To the north, to the south, to the east or west
I will stop in that country
That suits me the best.
For I am bound to obtain it, a place of my own,
Where I can enjoy the comforts of home.
I knew I would never be happy and contented again without a wife. There were plenty of girls there but somehow I did not succeed with any of them. I sure knew that the Lord had a guiding influence over me for if I had been left to myself I would have made a failure of my life. I can see the Lord had a work for me to do and that I was led by His spirit to the right girl that he intended for me., and to help me to accomplish the work he had for me to do. I am not able to put into words the feeling I have but I know that the Lord has been mindful of me and has led me through all my life and that he is interested in the affairs of his children and if we will listen to the still small voice it will lead us in the way we should go.
Mother of Millie Devoo (Abram's first wife) was Rebecca Clarissa Wheaton, Millie was blessed by Silas Wheaton in Wheaton's Branch, Sumung Co., N.Y.
Clara B. Workman was baptized by her father and confirmed by Seth Johnson.
Lucy Emma was blessed 12 Dec. 1874
Julia Erickson Streadbeck