History of David Harris Workman

I , David Harris Workman, Sr., was born at Mt. Pisgah, 28 Feb. 1848 but we started to the valleys the same spring so the first I can remember is in Salt Lake City. I have a faint recollection of my grandmother. I remember the times were very hard the first 10 years of my life so that I had but very little chance for an education.

When I was 7 years old past I was sunstruck, the consequence was I had fits. At times they were very frequent but after while they became more settled and would come at regular intervals unless something happened more than usual. If I got my feet wet and cold or any great shock to my system they would be sure to come on to me but still the Lord was with me for I have had proof of it in several instances, two or three of which I will relate.

About the year 1863-4 I went from Virgin City to Johnson’s Fort, 50 miles north to hunt a mule for Henry Barney. I was on foot. I wore my feet out (I had no shoes) and asked a man for a horse. He said he had nothing but a 4 year old colt that had been ridden twice before only. I took him and went over towards Quichuppah and while on the range I felt a fit coming on me. I was about 100 yards from any bush so I rode as hard as I could and got off and tied the horse but couldn’t get out from under him. When I came to myself I was lying with my head against his right hind foot and my feet between his fore feet. I was almost scared into another fit when I saw how I was lying but I make a quick movement and got out and I noticed he had not moved a foot since I tied him so there was one strong testimony that the Lord was with me. I fell upon my knees and thanked the Lord for my preservation.

The other time I was coming down Provo canyon on horseback. The snow was about 2 feet deep. I felt one coming. I only had time to get off. I was nearly froze when I was taken. When I came to I was warm. The horse might have gone on and left me but he waded out in the snow to some willows and was eating them. I was about ½ mile above John McFees. I got on the horse and rode to the house and got a cup of tea. I felt better and came on home. I then lived at Springville. This was in Feb. 1870.

Another time I was living in Panguitch. I was very sick. When I was very weak I had another, the last one I ever had. Either while I was in the fit or after I had come out of it (I always came out of them asleep) I thought I was traveling all alone in a place I had never been before. I was very tired. All at once I came to a nice garden. The fence was made of hewn stone about 2 feet high, then an iron railing about the same height on top of that. It was situated partly on a hill which sloped to the west and partly at the base of the hill; there were all kinds of fruit and flowers in the garden. I was traveling to the north. The place was on my right. On the top and on the other side was a large castle such as I had seen in pictures. It had 4 towers. I could see 3 of them. The fence at the corner, instead of making a square turn, turned gradually and made a curve. The road forked here: one turned to the east, the other kept north. Just as I had got across the street I saw my father. He had his Temple robes on as he was buried. By his left side with his left arm around her waist was a woman. She was a small frail woman with light hair. Although he was about 100 yards from me I could see his and her features distinctly. He beconned to me with his right hand to come to him but I didn’t feel inclined to go to him, shied off and kept straight along the road that went north for about 2 miles pondering in my mind what I had seen until I came to a stream of water. It was about 12 or 14 feet wide but very deep. I saw that I couldn’t jump across so I pulled off my clothes and tied them on my head and jumped in to swim across. As I awoke with a raving headache I firmly believe if I had had an inclination to have gone to my father I never would have awoke until the resurrection, but my time had not come yet. My father had been dead about two years.

We lived in Salt Lake about 4 years when we had to move with the rest of the Saints south. We stopped at Provo. Staid there, I believe, till fall, then moved back to Salt Lake City where we lived until 1862, about the last of October, when we moved to Virgin City, 17 Dec of the same year. This was a hard country to start and many that was called there went because it was the most resolute and courageous that staid. My father was one.

We had a very hard time the first five years we were here. I was the oldest child that would come with him. I was between 15 or 16 years old but very small of my age and sickly so much so that I could not stand much hardship, but the Lord was with us for I could take a piece of corn bread and butter and work hard all day and that was ground on a coffee mill.

About the year 1864-5 I went to work for Bro. Morril at Bellvue for $40 per month. When I had worked a month I got it all in flour. I got 400 lbs at $10 per cwt so I helped all I could. While at work at this place I did the biggest days plowing I ever did in my life. I plowed 3 acres in one day. After this I went up to Salt Lake city and to Farmington and worked for wheat and exchanged 30 bushels with the tithing offices of Salt Lake and Cedar City, Iron Co. It was while I was there that I had my endowments.

I came home with Uncle Andrew and Aunt Sariah and stayed until the spring of 1868 when I went back to the City and Parley’s Park to work for Jacob R. Workman a while. Then I worked for Chester Snyder. I peeled 12 cords of bark, tan bark. While peeling bark I milked cows and did chores mornings and evenings for my board. I left the bark in the timber to dry. Somebody set the timber on fire and burned my bark so that was lost. It was worth $12.50 per cord where it lay.

I then went to work for Chester Snyder Sen., commenced 12 July. I was to have $40. per month till haying time then was to have $2 per day and board. I worked till 23 Oct when the ice was frozen in the meadow where we were hauling hay. I couldn’t stand the cold water so I quit. I never received $25 for all I did for him. He was a regular swindle.

While there I got acquainted with Emma Jane Reynolds. We were promised to be married. I left there and went to work on the railroad in Weber canyon. Worked there till the latter part of Jan. then came to Provo where Miss Reynolds lived with her father and mother. Her father was a tinner by trade. He went to Springville to work. He was taken sick with rheumatism in his back. We went to see him every day or two.

When he was about well we concluded we would get married. I mentioned it to her father. He was willing. I wished him to marry us. He consented. We stood on the floor when he was taken with a cramp in getting off his chair and I had to help him in bed. He then told George A. Wilson to marry us which he did the 20th day of Feb 1869, I being 21 years old lacking 8 days.

The first place we lived by ourselves we rented a house from Hugh Goff at Provo, in the fall we rented a house of Caleb Haws then removed to Springville. There our first child was born. We then moved to Heber City, Provo Valley, from there to Parley’s Park, from there to Farmington, Davis Co., where our second child was born. We moved from there to Heber City. Worked for my father-in-law all summer from March or April until the last of September for which I received about $30. He didn’t feel disposed to pay me according to agreement. He acknowledged my account but wouldn’t pay me. I have the account at present. We then went to Wallsburg where I worked for Daniel Bigelow the following summer. Then we went back to the Park, then came to Virgin City 28 May 1875. Our third child was born in Wallsburg. 

I joined the United Order 15 June 1875 and worked hard all summer and in the fall the order broke up. I was in debt over $25 which I don’t think was right. Went to work for L. W. Beebe putting up a large rock house for $1.50 per day. All this time I had no team but supported my family with my hands. Two children were born while we were in Virgin City. I went to Panguitch to work for Bishop George Sevy. Started to work 1 Apr 1878 till the middle of June for which he gave me a yoke of oxen and some flour. Went to burning lime at the lake for James Imley, not understanding the nature of the rock. Did not make a success. Worked in the harvest field through the season. I earned about 40 bushel of wheat. Went home as my father was on his death bed. Stayed till after he died which was 28 July 1878, then went back to Panguitch with Abraham. We worked in the harvest field. We began 7 Aug and worked till the latter end of Sept, then went north east of Panguitch to hunt for lime rock. Was unsuccessful, then went up the Seveir about 15 miles above Panguitch to the Mammoth. Put up a lime kiln, burned some lime, sold it for a beef and furniture and other pay. We then concluded to make a home there. I went and brought my family there and put in some grain. But the frost took it so I couldn’t support my family and had to leave. While there my wife gave birth to a pair of twins, one girl and one boy. I was absent at the time—gone to the lake. Her sister Isabelle was with her. I came the next day and I was very much surprised to find an increase of two in my family.

We staid there till late in the fall when we moved to Panguitch where we staid till 5 Feb we started down the Sevier river so our oxen wouldn’t die, the winter being very severe the stock was dying off by the score. But previous to this time I had let my oxen out for the winter to Peter Petersen who was glad to let me have them. The reason we wanted to go there we heard that the company that owned the Deer Trail mine was going to put up a 40 stamp mill and wanted 2000 bushels of lime so we thought we could get the contract. My wife’s sister had married Peter Shirts. They went with us.

We went down to Marysvale close to the mine, found lime rock and started a lime kiln. Then the company broke up for some reason and we couldn’t find anything to do to make a living. Having been sick all the winter was hardly able to crawl around when started down there was not very stout but was willing to do anything to make a living for my family but couldn’t get a days work in the country or anything to eat. When I couldn’t do any better I wrote my circumstances to my father-in-law and my own folks. They sent us some assistance in clothing and money but I couldn’t get a pound of flour in the country. I carried $10 in my pocket for 5 days and couldn’t get a pound of flour for it. Then there was a boarding house about 300 yards above where we were camped. The proprietor said if I would go over to the creek about 5 miles north and catch him some trout he would give me flour for them. So I took one of the boys with me and went and I prayed the Lord to give me success which He did. I caught 16 little fish about 6-8 inches long and took them to him. I had not tasted one bite before that for 5 days, only a little coffee, and had been going all the time.

I gave out and laid down on the bank of the creek. I told Lewis to take the fish we had caught and go to a house about half a mile off and see if they would give me some bread and meat for them. They proved to be people I knew in Virgin. They sent me some bread and meat. I ate a little for I knew if I eat too much it would hurt me and also the fish I had sent them they sent back. This man gave me about 25 lbs of flour and about 5 lbs of bacon for 16 little fish. That was the only way I could get anything for my family and so I kept it up for some time till I got a chance to work at a sawmill in what was called Beaver canyon for James Huff.

I couldn’t make anything there so I left and went up the east fork of the Sevier river to fish. I would have done well but didn’t know how to preserve the fish. There were some of the finest fish I ever saw and plenty of them. I had my family with me and we had all we wanted to eat and I put up a barrel full of besides in 6 days. I would load my 2 oldest boys and myself every day. Most of the fish was from 6-30 inches long and plenty of them.

We left there and came to Virgin City. We got there in August. Went to work and made adobes for lanthus Richards house, then chopped and hauled wood at what is called Workman ranch, then went up north creek to work where I caught the chills which laid me up for all winter. The following spring I took Joseph Workman’s farm on shares and previous to this I had traded my oxen for a pair of little mules which I have got yet. The summer I had the farm I also had Sister Leander’s lot on shares and I peddled a good deal but had poor luck. It was a very damp summer with lots of rain and the fruit wouldn’t carry to the market so I lost at least half on an average after all summer. I raised a pretty fair crop of cane but it didn’t pay. I could have made more wheat while I was harvesting it than I got for it.

That winter I peddled to Silver Reef and the next spring moved to Ashley Fork, Uintah Co., Utah, took Martin Oakson’s farm on shares. Got 100 bushels of wheat and 100 bushels of oats, 20 bushels of potatoes, 20 bushels of beets, 5 bushels of carrots. I traded my mules for horses and gave $50 to boot. Got a good team. Entered 160 acres of land. It was here that the next pair of twins, girls, were born. Ella Josephine, the eldest of the two, was blessed by George A. Glines and the other by Robert Bodily, 11 May 1884. The next son was blessed by B. P. Shaffer.

The deputies tried to get our Bishop but failed. The Indians said if they took him they would take their scalps the spring and summer of 1886 I spent mostly peddling eggs, butter, chickens and vegetables to White Rock Agency. Didn’t raise much crop.

11 Sept 1887. Spent most of my time peddling to the post and agency. Didn’t put in much crop for want of seed.

On the 20th day of August I baptized my first twins, Irena and Ira. They were confirmed the next day, Irena by William Shaffer, Bishop and Ira by Robert Bodily, first counselor.

On the 10th day of July my wife was taken sick with a premature birth and is just beginning to get around again.

On the 10th of Sept 1887 I was ordained a member of the 97th quorum of Seventies, by Pres. George Hislop.

My eldest son, David Harris Workman, was killed in 1891 while trying to save the life of another at Reynolds mill in Mill Ward, Uintah Co., Utah. Also another young man named Berto Bird, son of Bradford and Sarah Bird of Ashley, on the 20th of Nov 1892. I sold my place to R. C. Collett for $900 and traded for a place from Henry Meeks and built a log house.

The same winter on the 12th of May 1891 my brother, Joseph N. Workman arrived from southern Utah and staid all summer and in the spring of 92 I took a contract of burning lime for the Indian school at Ouray. Didn’t do very well. In 1893 I went to Wyoming and while there our youngest child was born. He was a very puny child and was sick till after he was a year old.

On the 4 of July my mother died, aged 78 years, 5 months, less 1 day. In 1893 I hearded sheep part of the time and in the fall hauled lumber for Cary Bros. on Bare river, Colo. In 1894 went back to Wyoming and took my family. We staid there 2 summers and one winter. I was freighting and in 1895 went back to Boggs, Wyo and hauled wool. Also in ’96 and 97. Came home in July and went to Salt Lake to the semi-centennial celebration of Pioneer Day. Came back and put up hay and went to Grand Junction, Colo., and worked in the fruit and in 1898 took W. P. Reynolds farm on shares. Put in most of the crop and went to Wyoming to haul wool. Came back in July and in 1899 lived on Peter Shirt’s place and peddled to the Post and Agency and in the spring of 1900 came to Grand Junction and went to raising sugar beets. 

Last entry made Sept 1, 1920 by David’s third son Jacob William.

You will note that father’s last entry was made on June 21, 1900, yet he lived 18 years after that. During this time he lived in Grand Junction, Colo and at Dubuque, Colo. Afterwards returned to Vernal and in 1905 or at the opening of the Uintah Indian Reservation settled down on a homestead located by my younger brother Joseph Francis, near Ft. Duchesne, Ut. During the summer of 1918 he became quite feeble and decided to go to Provo, Utah, for treatments, where he died Oct. 31, 1918.

I, David Harris Workman Sr., will now proceed to give an account of my father until his death. We lived in Salt until October, 1862, then father was called on a mission to the southern part of Utah. We arrived at Virgin City, Dec. 17, 1862, in which ward he resided until his death. He removed part of his family 8 miles south of town on what was known as Gools Ranch where he died 28 July, 1878, aged 66 years and 21 days, surrounded by his family – all that were in that part of the country. My father was an honest man, being kept poor on account of his liberality. He was very industrious and was a true Latter Day Saint. He was very much opposed to drinking of strong drinks and the use of tobacco, always giving good advice to the young. He suffered persecution with fortitude and patience and was ever willing when called by proper authority to do anything to help build up the church and kingdom of God here on the earth. Thus ended the life of a good, honest man.

I will now proceed to give an account of my progenitors on my mother’s side.

James Harris, my great grandfather, was born in England, date not known. Christian Grabil was born in Germany, date not known. He was my great-great grandfather. My great grandfather married Polly Grabil, daughter of the above; that is James Harris married Polly Grabil, which was my great grandmother. They had three sons of which my grandfather was the eldest. He was a blacksmith by trade; born in Lancaster Co. Pa. July 17, 1774 in the town of Dunmore. He had two brothers, William, Jacob, Samuel were all born at the same place. My great grandfather, James Harris, fought in the Revolutionary War. Will Harris, my grandfather, was a blacksmith by trade. He was married to Fanny Groft Grabil.

Children of Will Harris and Fanny Groft Grabil:

 Nancy Harris  Born 8 Oct. 1807 Died

 Jacob Harris   10 July 1804 15 Nov. 1826

 John Harris          15 Jan. 1812 15 June 1815

 Benjamin Harris  10 Dec. 1813 15 Oct. 1817

 Fanny Harris   5 Feb. 1815 4 July 1893

 Samuel Harris   10 Mar. 1817 15 Dec. 1836

 David Harris   15 Apr 1819 11 Dec. 1836

 Joseph Harris   15 June 1821 15 May 1826

 Simon Harris   4 Apr 1827 4 Apr 1827 b. dead

 Susanna Harris  5 Apr 1828 

Fanny Harris, the eldest daughter, was married to Joseph Douglas Morrison about 1834. Joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints March 1840 in Port Twp., Pa. and 5 years later came up to Nauvoo (in 1845), left there in 1846 and came with many hardships as far as Mt. Pisgah. There her husband died in Oct. 1846. Her mother being with her all the time. They lived alone till 19 Feb. 1847 when she was married to Jacob L. Workman. They started across the plains in April 1848. Their first child was born 28 Feb. 1848. His name was David Harris Workman. He was six weeks old when she started for the valleys—arrived in Salt Lake City in September. Settled in the 12th Ward, where they lived till 1857 when they moved to Provo at the General Move of the Saints. Came back in 1858, remained till 1862, removed to Virgin City, arrived there 17 Dec. 1862 and has lived there ever since and is still living 15 Feb. 1883. I forgot to mention my grandfather, William Harris, died 15 July 1834. Fanny Harris, my grandmother, died in Salt Lake City, 10 Nov. 1850. (Buried on Workman lot in City Cemetery) Her two sisters were living at last account but have not heard from them for a good many years. Her 2nd child’s name was Lydia, born 10 Feb. 1850, next Andrew Jackson born 24 May 1852, next Fanny Louisa, born 3 Mar. 1854, these are all the children of Fanny Workman. Her first son, David, married Emma Jane Reynolds, 20 Feb. 1869. She had 8 children up to 1883—6 sons and 2 daughters.

Lydia was married to Lewis Oviatt. She had 2 children. She died 29 Jan. 1871. Her first child died soon after birth. Her second lived until the summer following when it died also.

Joseph, the 4th child, married to Sarah Ann Wright. Their first child’s name was Fanny Elizabeth, next Joseph Edmond.

Fanny Louisa was married to Oliver Stratton. Their first child’s name was Lydia Anna, their next Oliver Edwin.

This is all my mother’s children according to the best knowledge I have of them and her progenitors.

 I will now (this is the way the page ended)

Taken from the large Book of Research belonging to Mary Elizabeth Workman Chidester (and later to Thelma Chidester Anderson, her daughter, and still later to Mary Anderson Huffman, her granddaughter). Permission to scan was received from Mary Huffman.

Typing from the scans was completed by Jeanene Workman Brown in August 2010.