LIFE HISTORY OF ELLEN HICK PRICE
Written by her granddaughters Elizabeth P. Astle and Mary P. Stucki
How great and precious are the privileges of a grandmother 1 and how exceedingly favored by Providence are those who are so richly blessed as to know the love, service, and association of grandmothers! The only grandmother the children of the families of Isaac T. Price and John T. Price ever knew, was Ellen Hick Price, the second wife of their grandfather, John Isaac Price.
This refined and attractive woman was born at Pershey, Worcester county, England, September 15, 1836. She was the daughter of Thomas Hick and Sarah Roberts Hick, and the oldest daughter in a family of five children. As the laws of the country required children to work at a very early age, the family moved to Birmingham, (Warwick county), a large industrial center, where the children obtained work in the factories.
They found life here very different from that in the little village of Pershey. The busy streets and attractive shops were a never-ending delight to look at. They obtained housing on the fifth floor of a tall tenement building and climbing those flights of stairs was a real feat. Much of the bread, buns and some other foods were purchased already prepared, and the venders could be heard on the streets below, crying their wares. When anything was needed, one of the children was dispatched in a hurry and they vied with each other in eliminating time. Ellen was able to make the round trip in 3 1/2 minutes (believe it or not.)
Many of the venders sang rhymes to advertise their goods. For instance, at Easter time "Hot Cross Buns" would be featured, and the song would be, "Hot Cross buns! Hot Cross buns! If your daughters don't like them, Give ‘em to your sons. One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!" The notes were slow and long-drawn-out and the children loved to pick up the sonorous tones and repeat them in mimic voices. Sometimes it was difficult for the mother to tell whether the sounds came from the room or from the street below. The buns were large and marked with a slash on top in the shape of a cross, which was filled with white frosting. Four pennies would buy enough buns at ‘ha p’ny each (1/2 cent), or enough bread for a family of seven or eight.
The father was a bricklayer and found work at building and repairing jobs in the factories. The mother was an excellent housekeeper and taught the girls in the arts of fine hom-making. as she grew older she became a semi-invalid and directed the work from her easy chair. The andirons and many of the utensils used about the home were of fine brass and must be kept shining and bright. The furniture was polished with beeswax and turpentine which required a lot of elbow-grease, for the surface must reflect as a mirrir [sic] and woe to the girl, if the mother could find a speck of dust in any corner when she had finished;-the entire apartment must then be done over.
Windows must be washed every Saturday, inside and out. This duty usually fell to Ellen, so seated upon the window-sill with the sash firmly shut down upon her knees, she briskly performed her task. From her vantage point, the traffic in the street below appeared like toy people and doll-carriages moving to and fro. When she had finished, some one from inside would raise the window and assist her into the room again.
The family belonged to the Church of England and Sunday found them in strict attendance at services and in quiet rest. The smaller children were required to attend school on certain days and work the remaining days. As they grew older, Ellen, with her brother Tom, and sister, Sarah, attended night school instead. They lived the normally happy life of the average family until tragedy entered in the form of an explosion at the "gas-houses" where the children worked, which took the life of the littlesister, Esther, and many of her companions. This accident threw a deep gloom over the entire city for many weeks, and resulted in better safety measures and improved working conditions for youthful laborers.
Ruth, the baby of the family, did not do well at school, as the teacher was very strict and the little girl, being of a timid, nervous disposition, was frightened speechless most of the time. Being unable to read her lesson as the teacher required, she was placed in a dark closet for punishment. The child beat upon the closed door and screamed frantically until becoming exhausted, she fell asleep. School closed, master and children went home, and little Ruth was forgotten. When she did not return from school the parents became worried and began to inquire of other children if they had seen her. So the truth was learned and with the help of a "Bobby" (policeman) they entered the school building to find the child screaming hysterically and frantically trying to beat upon the door, utterly exhausted by fear and emotion. Although she was given every medical attention and care and kindness of family and friends, she never fully regained her normal health of body and mind. After a lingering illness of several months she was relieved of her suffering and the family sorrowfully laid her beside her little sister, Esther, in the over-crowded cemetery.
Years passed on and Ellen has been promoted from one phase of the work to another until she became a master-worker at the art of inlaid Mother-of-Pearl decorations and scroll work of gilt on the ebony jewelry cases, tea caddies and other accessories so popular at that time, and considered so indispensable in "Milady's boudoir". She worked long hours and was highly paid for her great skill and efficiency.
Each day the workers were allowed time for "lunch-hour" at noon and at 3:15 a twenty-Minute period for "tea-hour". Each day Ellen hurried through her meal in order to spend the remaining time in stitching needlework of which she was very fond. Especially did she excell in making eyelet embroidery, working intricate and elaborate patterns on petticoats, dresses, pillow cases, etc., with great skill, for herself and for gifts for others.
Through the years the children brought their wages to their mother who managed the family expenses. But as they grew older and earnings increased, only a part was required for family needs, so Ellen and Sarah were able to provide themselves with lovely and attractive clothing and to lay away a small portion for a "rainy day". Only the best material was purchased and as Ellen had an eye for beauty and style, she was among the best dressed ladies at church. Her aptitude for sewing and designing found expression here.
While still quite young Sarah was happily married to a promising young man of good standing, Thomas Ash, and their growing family was a constant surprise and even dismay to Ellen, who was not used to children. This little romance brought joy to the family, and gave young Tom Hick, the brother, courage to attempt marriage also, with the lady of his choice, whom he adored. But the marriage was not a happy one. Tom found it difficult to meet the demands made upon him, and being used to freedom and unrestraint, could not adjust to the new life. Countless quarrels ensued, and one evening Tom was found dead under very mysterious circumstances, evidence seemingly pointing to suicide. However, the case was never satisfactorily cleared up, as to what happened.
This was a great shock to the frail little mother who had been in delicate health for sometime and she survived for only a few weeks, leaving Ellen alone to care for her father. The two sisters were drawn close together during the weeks that followed, for they had dearly loved the mother and brother, and sorrow cements the ties of love. They must try to make up to the father for the absence of the dear ones.
Then sometime later, while working on a building in cold winter weather, the father slipped from the icy scaffold, the fall resulting in a broken hip and other injuries. After proper examination and consultation, several doctors declared his injury to be beyond remedy,-the hip being so badly mangled the bones could not be set. There was hemorrhage present and undoubtedly internal injuries from which he could not recover. So he was taken home to the little apartment to await the end, and Ellen took up her constant vigil beside his bed. In spite of his pain and suffering, the man tried to be cheerful and would often crack a joke about his medicine, food, or something else being used, which would relieve the tension and send the girl to her household duties with a smiling face. But the weeks had lengthened into months and she realized their small savings were melting away and she was forced to resume her work. This left her father alone most of the day, but Sarah helped all she could and arrangements were made for a neighbor lady to look in on him occasionally during the day. Ellen returned promptly at 5:30 always bringing something new or interesting for him, sometimes a dainty morsel to eat, a paper or book to read, some gadget he could use, or even a bit of pleasant news concerning some friend or acquaintance. Thus the two were drawn closer together, and although racked with pain and deploring his helplessness and dependency, the man was not entirely discouraged or downcast, for he had many hours in which to read, study, and meditate upon life and the "hereafter", being as he though[t], so close to the end.
One evening as Ellen was returning from work accompanied by a girlfriend, she went into a little shop to buy something for her father. As they left the shop they saw in the window a notice stating that two "Mormon Elders" from Utah would hold a meeting that night at a certain place, inviting the general public to attend. The friend said, "0, those are the people who believe in polygamy,—you know what I mean, every man has more than one wife. It is said that their leader, Brigham Young, has 60 wives, and that these young men are missionaries sent out to entice young girls to go to Utah for their wives." She ended her statement with a characteristic giggle.
"0, how awful!", replied Ellen. "Isn’t there any law out there in that outlandish country against such disgraceful practices? What girl would want to marry a man and share him with someone else? Don't worry, they will not get anyone to fall for such an offer. What a heathen religion; I’m glad I am a member of the good old Church of England. I’d like to see the color of the man’s hair who could allure me into joining such a religion."
"Or me", assured Kate. "But you are mistaken in thinking they cannot get anyone to listen, for they are converting people by the hundreds. Each year many people, several boat loads, I am told, leave for the United States, bound for Utah. And not only young girls and women, but old men, and whole families. And they have a set of principles to go by that are quite appealing, I have heard. And they are as sincere in their belief as you or I."
"How sickening, for them to rush away to an unknown country to indulge in such practices," said Ellen, disgustedly. An[d] then looking at her friend rather suspiciously, she asked, "How do you happen to know so much about these people? Are you investigating?"
"No, of course not," denied Kate. "Our neighbor, Mrs. Folland attended some of their meetings and brought over some of their "tracts" for father to read. I’m not interested in their religion but I think it would be fun to go to this meeting just to hear what they say. No harm could come to us in a crowd of people, and if they talk about polygamy we can tell them what we think of them. Wouldn't it be a lark? Come on, let's go." At first Ellen demurred, but after more persuasion from Kate she agreed to go if her father were willing.
So it was that she attended her first "Mormon meeting". As the girls entered the room the Elder in charge was announcing the opening hymn. They noticed that about 40 people were present and they felt impressed with the spirit of peace and quietness that pervaded. After the song and a very earnest prayer, the second Elder arose to speak. Ellen never forgot, during her lifetime, the feeling of exaltation that came into her heart when the Spirit bore witness to her that the message is true. The Elder spoke of Revelation, the Power of the Priesthood, and the Authority to act in the name of God. Then the first Elder continued by adding Faith, Spiritual Gifts and the blessings which the Gospel brings into the lives of people. He related incidents of healings performed through the Priesthood. He spoke also of Prayer as a means of communion with God. There was such a rich outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord, everyone present was moved to tears. Holding close to her friend’s hand, Ellen whispered, "O, if only father could be healed like that! I wish they could go to see my father!" The girls had come out of curiosity, prepared to scoff and jeer if opportunity afforded. What had changed their attitude?
After the meeting closed, the Elders mingled with the crowd, shaking hands and exchanging friendly greetings. The girls dried their tears and found courage and words to tell them of Ellen's father and his great need, explaining that it would be necessary for them to visit him in the evening as she worked away from home and could not be there in the daytime. They kindly consented to accompany the girls to the apartment where they gave cheer and comfort to the lonely man. They gave him a "Book of Mormon" and other literature. Before they left, one of the Elders said, "l feel impressed to promise you, Brother Hick, that if you will be baptized you will get well and emigrate to Utah." What a promise to one on the verge of the grave!
Hope sprang anew in his heart and mind. Time was no longer something to be dreaded, for in spite of his pain and his reclining position, the sick man spent much of the day reading and pondering the truths of the Gospel as set forth in the Book of Mormon and the tracts the Elders left. In the evening he told Ellen of its beauties, and she read to him far into the night that they might gain knowledge of its truths. So it was, when the Elders called two weeks later, after greetings were over, Brother Hick said, "I am ready to be baptized. How can you get me down out of this place?"
The next night the Elders came, bringing with them two other Elders and a small but sturdily constructed litter upon which the patient was placed and carried down the many stairs and out to the river. (It was probably the Wye River.) It was winter and very cold. The water was icy. Two of the Elders lifted him carefully and carried him into the stream, supporting him for the ceremony. After his baptism he was able to walk from the water without help, which he did, praising the name of the Lord. He was 56 years old. He at once began making preparations to go to Utah. (The names of the Elders are not known and no data is given for this baptism but it was probably in the winter of 1862, as Ellen was baptised sometime later and the date of her baptism is recorded as May 1862, by Elder JDT McAlister; confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, May 1862, by Elder Thomas Carter. At this time Elder George Q. Cannon was President of the British Mission with Elder George Reynolds an Secretary and Elder John M. Kay presiding in the Birmingham District.)
The Hicks were advised against taking an abundance of luggage on their voyage to America, but to travel as lightly as possible, lest it be found a hardship on "the plains". It was thought best to convert most of their properties to cash with which to purchase a conveyance and equipment for the overland trek and for the establishing of a home upon their arrival in the valley. So they worked and planned. How wonderful, how miraculous that the man should again resume his work, an event he at one time thought impossible! How his heart swelled with joy and overflowed with singing!
But not some changes had occurred. He no longer received the friendly morning greeting from his fellow workers; although some spoke casually, others, and among them some of his life-long friends, turned haughtily away, or pressed forward with slurs and sarcasm concerning the "despised sect". At first this barrier between him and his friends was a great cross to the lonely man, but taking his problems to the Lord as he had learned to do, he soon came to know that these trials were the work of the adversary to thwart him from obtaining that most coveted gift, Eternal Life, So he learned to go about his work with a cheerful heart. True, he had been turned away from some places and had not been able to obtain the work he so much desired, which was a serious matter if it continued, but his faith was implicit, his trust in the Lord supreme, so how could he fail? He had been promised blessings: he knew they would be provided.
But to Ellen these trials seemed insurmountable. Unlike her father, she had experienced no long period of thought and meditation to prepare her for the reception of the Gospel light. It had come to her as a completesurprise, - in a moment, as a flash from Heaven; she knew it was true and she could not deny it. She knew the reason her friends turned away was because they did not understand. If only she could tell them about it,-help them to understand! She had done no wrong, planned no evil thing. Why should they turn away? Ture[true], some were still friendly enough, but gone were the care-free comradeship and gay repartee at recess time, and more often than not, tears fell on the dainty eyelet embroidery; and at night in the quiet seclusion of her room, she sobbed in exhaustion from mental confusion and frustration. Ellen was proud, - very proud. She had always been a leader in her crowd and among those with whom she worked. She could not brook their ostracism. She had "always held her head up with the best of them". If only she and her father had the money needed so they could leave at once for Zion! But she must, somehow, bide the time. From her father she learned wisdom, and from sheer necessity she came to know the comfort and peace that sincere prayer brings. More than this, she brought to her work a gentle dignity that won back the allegiance of many of her friends, for some had thought her just a little too haughty and overbearing previously. Now the girls began to cluster about her at lunch hour, and even to ask intelligent questions about her plans, and the new religion. Plans were made for a "farewell" get together when she should leave.
Two years had passed since their baptism, before everything was in readiness for the journey and Ellen and her father engaged passage on the ship "Hudson", expecting to sail May 16th; but the ship being detained in New York for repairs after a former voyage, was 17 days late in arriving, therefore it was not until June 3, 1864, that they found themselves actually on board, sailing from Shadwell Basin, London. Great concern was felt as the delay may make the teams late in the season on the plains. There were 863 souls of Latter-day Saints in the company, 710 of them being adults, 120 children and 33 infants. (The Saints from Denmark were prevented from emigrating this year because of a war between the Danes and Prussians and Austrians.) Pres. George Q. Cannon came to see the company off and bid farewell to the Saints. Also on board were a number of missionaries returning from Europe, having completed their missions. As this did not fill the ship to capacity, and on account of the scarcity of ships, and the high rate of passage, 185 emigrants of other faiths were enrolled, bringing the ship's rostrum to 1048.
They were listed as follows:
Country Adults Children Infants Total
England 500 82 22 604
Scotland 60 13 2 75
Switzerland 86 12 5 103
Holland 47 10 3 60
France 6 3 1 10
Denmark 1 0 0 1
America 10 0 0 10
Total 710 120 33 863
As the ship was getting ready to sail many visitors came on board, some to bid "good-bye" to friends, and others for curiosity, to get a glimpse of the "Mormons" Among the latter were two ruffians who insulted the women telling them that they were immoral and simply "riffraff" to go to Utah to be concubines for those low-down "Mormons". Their language and manners became so rude and offensive it was reported to Capt. Isaiah Pratt. He at once sent two crew members to remove the offenders, but as his orders were not carried out immediately, he came on deck and forcibly removed them in person. Although Capt. Pratt was not a Mormon, he was a friend to them and treated them with great courtesy, kindness and consideration during the long voyage. "Mr. Alexander Massey of London, part owner of the vessel, proved to be a very pleasant and agreeable companion. All the officers of the ship were kind and helpful, making the journey a pleasure. Love and confidence ruled." (A list of the Latter-day Saint emigrants who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the ship "Hudson" leaving London June 3, 1864, enroute to Salt Lake Valley is given in Emigration Book marked 1048 on file in the Historian's Office in Salt Lake City, pages 82 to 119 and 154 to 157.)
Elder John M. Kay, now released from his long mission in Europe, was placed in charge of the group as president, with Elders George Halliday, John L. Smith and Matthew McCune as Counselors. Elder John L. Smith was also given special charge of the Saints from Switzerland and Holland. Elder Alexander Ross acted as Clerk, Elder James Brown as Steward, and Elder Charles Goodwin as Captain of the Guards. Fourteen wards were also organized and Bishops installed as follows; William Moss , John Tuddenham, Thomas Clifton, Timothy Metz, Ulrich Farrer, Joseph Howard, Samuel Nelsen, Thomas G. Patten, Ludwig Wolf, George Webb, George Harrison, William Sanders, Thomas O. King, John H. Miller. In this way the needs and comfort of the company were cared for. The Galley of the ship was placed at the disposal of the Saints for cooking purposes. It was a fine ship, Her movements even in rough weather, easy and graceful, and the fresh water, food, and medical comforts were first class. "The water produced from the condensing engine is quite a luxury, far better than to be had in many towns and villages in Old England."
As the ship left the docks and Pres. Cannon and the other Elders entered the tug-boat to return to land, the Saints came on board and sent up three long, loud cheers, making the banks of the Thames ring; and the distant hills caught up the echo, as though to greet the Saints in their departure from Babylon. This was Friday night, a little below Gravesend, where they were anchored; then they hoisted anchor and pushed out to sea at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 4th. The Saints were feeling fine. They had all been required to submit to two physical examinations, one before leaving and another on entering the Ship.
The water was clear as crystal. They could look into the depths and see the shells and vegetation; the air was cool and refreshing the scenery so beautiful; there was peace in their hearts, and love and gratitude,- a surge of thanksgiving to God for His many blessings. Is it any wonder that their emotions found expression in the dearly loved songs of Zion? It was both a farewell to the past and a prayer for the future.
"Ye Elders of Israel, come join now with me,
And search out the righteous wherever they be,
In desert or mountain, on land or on sea,
And bring them from Babylor[n] to Zion so free.
O Babylon, O Babylon, we bid thee farewell;
We’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell."
"The harvest is great and the lab’rers are few,
But if we’re united we all things can do;
We’ll gather the wheat from the midst of the tares,
And bring them from bondage, deep sorrows and snares.
O Babylon, O Babylon, wqe bid thee farewell,
We’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell." Etc.
And another favorite:
"Come go with me beyond the sea,
Where happiness is true,
Where Zion's land,; blessed by God’s hand,
Inviting waits for you.
With joyful hearts you’ll understand
The blessings that await you there,
I know it is the promised land;
My home, my home is there.
"There, on those everlasting hills,
And in the valleys fair,
Beside the gurgling fountain eills[rills],
We’ll bow in humble prayer,
And praise our God in joyful strains,
That we are safely gathered there.
I know it is the promised land;
My home, my home is there."
The vessel was towed down the river by a steam-tug anchoring at Margate, a seaport town. They sailed along near the coast enjoying the beautiful scenery, making nine miles the next night. Sunday was clear and calm so services were held on deck. There was music, singing, speaking, one confirmation and one baby blessed. Wednesday, June 8, anchored off the Isle of Wight. Here they were in deep water and the Pilot left them. They recorded "All’ well. We are thankful to be delivered from Babylon." Friday, June 10, anchored off Dartmouth and sent letters by fishermen. Here they encountered fogs and head winds that somewhat impeded their progress and caused a little seasickness; but soon they were leaving the English Channel waving "good-bye" to Landsend and the shining waves of the mighty Atlantic beckoned them on.
Not until they were three days out at sea was it discovered that measles had been brought on board by a Jewish family from among the other passengers, and all had been exposed. This caused much suffering and anxiety. The Elders did all they could to alleviate the distress of the patients and Dr. Henry James Rogers, the ship physician, was attentive in his ministrations, but 14 deaths of infants and small children resulted from this and other causes. One woman about 40 years of age also passed away. "The bodies were committed to the deep in due order, and with that solemnity appropriate, the Elders officiating. The ties that unite us are stronger than death, and the love that warms honest upright hearts, lives and grows beyond the grave. The strength of parental affection is increased, and when earth’s fleeting joys and trancient[sic] scenes shall have passed away, the links now broken in the family chain, by death’s chilly hand, shall be again welded together, and home's enduring association shall be renewed with all the joys that animate the bosom of mortals. It matters not materially where the body lays, whether beneath the green sward in its fatherland, or away from the haunts of men, in the deep dark bed of the ocean." Ellen’s tender heart was filled with compassion for these newly found friends, and she spent many hours assisting with their care.
The first three weeks of their journey were very warm, then the temperature cooled considerably, which was more favorable to the general health. As there was little favorable wind, the ship rode gracefully, almost majestically over the gentle waves, "and considering the great number of passengers, very few suffered bodily from sea sickness, although all were at times a little qualmish from the motion of the vessel." On various occasions they were becalmed, making no progress for several days. This was a matter of concern lest the delay force them to endure the rigors of winter on the plains; but it was a blessing to the sufferers, to rest from the steady roll of the ship during their illness. Several births occurred during the voyage.
"Captain Isaiah Pratt (part owner of the vessel) manifested his anxiety for the comfort in all kindness and service by night and day. At 7:30 each evening Elder Kay held a council meeting with his helpers to hear reports from different groups and thus plan for the good of all. Capt. Pratt was always on hand to inquire about the report and to know how he could be of help. He and other members of the crew also attended the Church services held on Sunday. Upon various occasions he had hot soup made from pressed meat and served to the Saints: especially to the ill was his tenderness seen. The many services shown the Saints reflect the highest credit on his character as a gentleman possessing[sic] a generous dispositon[sic] and kind heart, willing to bless on life’s crowded highway, the needy soul with what he had to bestow. By such actions he has won the love and respect of all, while his name shall long live in familiar fondness with us, and his acts of kindness be sponken[spoken] of in the family circles of Zion’s happy homesteads as that of a friend and benefactor."
"On three occasions we were nearly run into by other ships coming from windward, by their not using that caution so essentially necessary in the preservation of life and property on the deep." On July 8, they were passed by a strange vessel which crew members identified as a "Confederate Privateer" either the "Georgia" or the "Rappanhannock". It was thought that the owners may be engaged in piracy upon the high seas. To their consternation the vessel turned, came back and edged in close to the "Hudson". For a time confusion reigned on the "Hudson" as it was though that the strange vessel meant to attack her; but after making three distince[sic] circles about the ship, the strange craft went on her way and all breathed a sigh of relief.
On July 19, 1864, after 48 days at sea, the "Hudson", last ship of the season, arrived at New York, and after a pleasant sail up the Hudson River, anchored at Albany at 4:00 a.m. They were fortunate to obtain a leaving for the west at 12:00 noon.
At this time the great Civil War was in progress in the United States and everywhere the streets looked deserted or else were thronged with soldiers in their blue uniforms, and groups of cavalry riding in formation, or platoons of soldiers marching, most of them looking weary and worn. The journey was made under strict surveillance, for at most stations where the train stopped, a military officer came on board and asked the Saints to show their passports. There seemed so many unnecessary stops, and the train traveled so slowly, the journey which was expected to last but a few days, lengthened into weeks. A few times the train was flagged on the prairie and officers came on board and searched the male passengers, looking for spies.
Ellen and her friends enjoyed the broad expanse of free, open country, the beautiful scenes along the wide, clear streams, and the stately homes and fine shops in the cities through which they passed. They were in "America, the land of the free," but just now it was filled with unrest because of the war. But there would be peace in Zion,-with God!s people.
The further west they traveled, the more difficult it seemed to proceed. When at last they reached Missouri, they found the bridges often torn out by marauding bands from the south, and sometimes they had to leave the train and find a ferry or boat to take them across the stream, and then carry their luggage long distances until they could find another train to take them further, They found their properties were not safe for a moment when left unguarded. It was necessary to organize into groups, one unit going ahead and carrying all possible, leaving a guard over the remainder; then the first group to leave an advance guard and return for more luggage. Thus, by working together, they accomplished their task. This, perhaps, does not seem difficult to us, but when we know that they had great chests of clothing, material, tools, etc. we can better appreciate their struggle, especially since they had to carry them a distance of three miles or more, at times. They fully realized now the wisdom of the Elders in counseling them to take only small luggage. Also in Missouri, they found themselves surrounded by enemies. The residents seemed mostly "mobocrats" and had remained bitter against the Mormons and would stop at nothing to hinder them in their immigration.
It was difficult for them to obtain food, for even though they had the money to pay for it, enemies would not supply it, and those who were friendly were afraid to do so lest they call down the ire of the enemy upon their own heads.
Then there the small bands of "Guerilla Forces". By their non-descript costumes it would be difficult indeed to tell to which faction these petty groups belonged. Some wore the gray of the South, others wore perhaps a cap from the North, or a cloak of blue, but none had an all blue uniform; others were arrayed in cowboy fashion, western attire, or various other garbs, but all were bent on harassing the enemy and stealing and plundering everything they could find, from trains to churches, tearing up bridges, and setting fire to buildings, and haystacks just to see them burn and hear the cries and curses of the wronged. Thus the spirit of hatred, evil and mobocracy still remained rampant in Missouri as it had 25 years earlier when the Saints were persecuted and driven from their homes upon its soil.
After 14 days of travel they crossed the Missouri River and arrived at Wyoming, Nebraska, August 2nd. "Wyoming" was the new recruiting Station for all emigrants to Utah in 1864, the year of the greatest number (2697). Up to this time, Florence and Kanesville, Nebraska, had been the outfitting stations for the Saints crossing the Plains. "Wyoming" was located on the west bank of the Missouri River, 40 miles south of Omaha and 7 miles north of Nebraska City. There were two large warehouses, 3 stores, an emigration office and store, a large corral, and two or three dwellings. Pres. Joseph W. Young proved to be a very efficient manager.
About 170 Church teams were sent from Utah to the Missouri River this year after the poor. Through the Perpetual Emigration Fund, with Erastus Snow, President, young men, experienced drivers, were called as missionaries for this work, to meet the Saints with supplies, wagons, teams, etc., and assist them on their way; to bring in freight, supplies, etc. needed in Utah.
Through this assistance the "Hudson Company" was able to recruit quickly and under the leadership of Capt. Warren S. Snow, leave Wyoming, Nebraska, August 11, only nine days after arrival there. This company actually consisted of about half of the Saints who crossed the Atlantic on the "Hudson" and a few who had stayed over at Wyoming, having crossed earlier, in the ship "General McClellan". Also included were a few Saints emigrating from the states, and a freight train attached for safety in traveling.
Even with the help from Utah, Pres. Joseph W. Young found difficulty in securing enough suitable wagons and teams to make the journey, the immigration to California being very great that year, including gold-seekers and families desirous of making homes in California, Oregon and Washington. After all wagons were loaded there were over 100 tons of freight still left in the warehouses. Pres. Young left with this train for Utah. Owing to the heavily loaded wagons, it was necessary for the Saints to walk all the way.
Captain William Hyde’s company had left two days earlier, August 9th. On August 14, Capt. Hyde received a dispatch from Pres, Brigham Young to the effect that he should lay over, or make very short drives until Capt. Warren S. Snow’s company should be close behind as the Indians were hostile ahead. After that the two companies traveled together as it was thought there may be safety in numbers. The next day a lady and three children were buried. Quite a number were ill with diarrhea. (It became known that ferocious Indians had attacked and killed the people of some non-Mormon emigrant trains, stealing their animals and provisions and burning their train of wagons.) All were asked to be prayerful, to be alert at all times and to remain near the wagons.
On August 18, the marriage of Elder John T. Gerber and Sister Anna Mary Roup was performed by Elder John L. Smith. Services were held in the center of the great corral. There were singing and prayers and Pres. Joseph W. Young preached and counseled the Saints. After the meeting the happy couple received congratulations. This incident occurred as they were camped on the west side of Camp Kearney.
By August 30th, the mail had stopped running, general merchant and emigrant trains had ceased temporarily, rangers and station keepers had fled from the Indians. But each day the Saints in these two companies held prayer meeting at 7:30 A.M. and continued to travel on. September 3rd a woman was accidently run over and killed instantly in Mr. Beatie’s freight train attached to this company.[Mary Ann Wingrove died on this date in 1864 her husband was traveling with the freight company. Rather an interesting coincidence] On September 6th a heavy rain fell and the company was obliged to stop travel and build fires to dry their clothing. Here they found wild plums and grapes. A few days later Elder John M. Kay became ill with rheumatism and was unable to walk further.
Agreeable with counsel, the train traveled over a different route to obtain better food and water for their animals. This new route led up Pole Creek 180 miles, then over the Black Hills about 100 miles south of Fort Laramie, across the north fork of the Platte River to the head of Bitter Creek and followed the course of this stream for a few days. Here game was plentiful, - antelope and fish. A red handkerchief was used to lure the antelope. The water of Bitter Creek was very bad, being impregnated with alkali and Saleratus[Saleratus is a naturally occurring sodium or potassium bicarbonate. The emigrants quickly recognized its capability as a leavening agent and used it as a raw form of baking soda. One emigrant party noted that "the efflorescent white bicarbonate of soda" turned their bread "a suspiciously green cast" if not used in moderation. Nevertheless, the leavening worked best when added to a dough cooked quickly over a high heat, making it perfect for an emigrant campfire.
Saleratus had become commercially available in 1840 and some of the females prized the find. Amelia Hadley described it "as white as snow and this is 3 or 4 inches deep and you can get chunks of salaratus as large as a pint cup just as pure as that you buy."]. The dust and grime were almost unbearable and when the weary Saints were almost heard to complain, Elder Hick cheered them with the thought that they were only a few weeks from their beloved home in Zion.
At Julesburg, Nebraska, on the Platte River they learned that the rangers had returned to their stations and the mail was again going through. Also that the United States Government had sent detachments of soldiers to patrol the roads and keep the Indians in check. Therefore, September 11, Pres. Young, having his own outfit, left the companies, taking with him some of the prominent Brethren, and pressing forward, arrived at Salt Lake City September 25, over a month ahead of the rest. On the way he stopped at a station and sent a telegram to Pres. Brigham Young asking him to send 50 yoke of oxen to meet the Hyde and Snow companies on the Bitter Creek route, over the Chalk Creek road. Feeling the danger lessened, the Hyde company also moved on and arrived at their destination October 26, where they were heartily received by the entire community.
There were many prominent men in these companies; Joseph W. Young, Hyrum B. Clawson, Joseph A. Young, Hampton S. Beatie, William S. Stanes, Richard Bentley, Parley P. Pratt Jr., Samuel F. Neslen[Nelsen], John M. Kay, John L. Smith and other returning missionaries. Some of these brethern had been working at Wyoming, Nebraska, or had been otherwise engaged in service for the Church and were returning to their homes for the winter.
As the ox-train plodded slowly along, on October 23, the Saints were surprised to see a group of soldiers riding on the opposite bank of the stream. At once they halted and greeted the emigrants with three salutes from their guns. The entire train was ordered to stop and the travelers answered with three rousing cheers and the waving of handkerchiefs. Then the Saints resumed their journey, but the soldiers continued to cheer and wave until the train passed out of sight. Poor, lonely, homesick soldiers! Quartered week after week on the barren desert, their only neighbors the crafty Redskins, their enemies; thrilled to see the sight on an emigrant train, loath to see it recede in the distance.
Elder John M. Kay became steadily worse and much to the sorrow of his many friends, he passed away September 26, and was buried on the Little Laramie. All had hoped he might live to reach his mountain home. Also 19 other deaths occurred in this company during the long trek of over 2,000 miles. Most of the Saints walked every step of the way, Ellen and her father among them.
After this sad event the journey seemed just a little different for Brother Hick. The weather turned cold, with intermittent storms, the roads became muddy and increasingly difficult to pass over, and Ellen could see that each day he seemed a little more quiet, a little more thin and tired. When they entered Parley’s Canyon in a blinding snowstorm, he contacted a severe cold, and upon arrival in Salt Lake City late on Wednesday evening, November 2, he was found to be definitely ill. From walking so many miles in mud, snow, and slush, his feet had become frozen, and from this he suffered agonies of pain.
It was the custom of the Church to meet each train of emigrants with a friendly reception, providing food, shelter and everything needed for their comfort and convenience. Accordingly, when the Hyde company arrived on October 26, the Reception Committee was ready with a rousing welcome. This was provided for by the donations of the people through their Bishops, under the direction of Presiding Bishop Hunter and his Counselor, Jesse C. Little. The company was housed in large tents on the public square. The brethren and sisters came forward with food, hot soup, beef, potatoes, pies, tea, coffee, sugar, distributing the food to the passengers. The sick were made as comfortable as possible in the 8th Ward School House. Medical attention and nursing care were provided. They had not all been distributed among friends when the snow storm arrived on Saturday evening, so on Sunday morning it became necessary to remove the remainder from the tents to the 7th Ward School house.
"The preparations for the reception of Capt. Snow’s train were as energetic and benevolent in character as those made for Capt. Hydes’, the lateness of the season seeming to call for extra and additional effort. The call for assistance, therefore, was made upon every ward in the city and to their praise be it spoken, every ward, and almost every family, freely responded." Those having it in charge were Bros. Jesse C. Little, John Sharp, William A. McMaster, Samuel Turnbow, Martin Linzi, Father Booth, Bro. Leach, and Mark Lindsay.
Owing to the lateness of the season and the heavy snowfall it was found impossible to house them in tents on the public square as formerly, so the 8th Ward school house was prepared for their coming. A friendly non-member who owned a blacksmith shop on the southeast corner of the public square gave his whole premises to be used as a Commissary Department; and many merchants, Bros. William Jennings, W.S. Godbe, Kimball and Lawrence and others were generous in donating of groceries and in offering the use of their warehouses, if needed, for the use of the sick and needy.
Because of the largeness of the company, (about 70 ox-drawn wagons), and the exceptionally muddy roads, the Snow company did not arrive until late at night on November 2nd. The friendly reception committee had things well in hand and in a very few minutes had every one comfortably cared for, and "Hot soup, and a liberal, and we may add, bounteous supply of the good things of this life began to pass around, and they continued until all were abundantly satisfied."
The members of the company seemed rugged and healthy looking, with but few exceptions. Elder Joseph W. Young said there had been no such thing as starvation or want known among them. From the time the train passed the Weber River, 8 pounds of flour, 2 pounds of bacon and 1 pound of beans were given out to each adult. Bro. Hick and a few others who were not so well were given medical attention. Dr. Hovey and Sister Sluice, a fine nurse, rendered kind and efficient service. "In a few days most all had been transferred to homes of friends or relatives, or had found temporary refuge with some kind saint."
"We think great credit is due Bp. Hunter and his assistants for the promptness and energy with which they have carried out the wishes of our President in providing food and homes fro these large companied of saints.
This is the way the Latter-day Saints treat their poor brethern when they come here from distant nations, ignorant of our manners and customs, ignorant of our mode of procuring the necessities of life, and many of them ignorant of the language we speak. Can this be the result of fanaticism? Or is it the result of that pure and undefiled religion of which the Prophet speaks? We ask, "Can the Christian world show its equal?" Our religion teaches this maxim: "By their fruits ye shall know them!"
The Hicks went to Wanship, Summit County, Utah to be near friends, the Bates family, and others whom they knew. Wanship was a very small village named after an old Indian Chief, situated on Silver Creek, at the junction of this stream and the Weber River, 8 miles south of Coalville, which afterward became the stake headquarters. Stephen Nixon, his daughter, Margaret, and a man named Henry Roper are said to have been the first settlers, as they spent the winter of 1859-60 there. In the fall of 1861 Pres. Daniel H. Wells started work on a wagon road following Silver Creek, but it was washed away the following spring and another road was then constructed higher up the mountain side. In 1861 a mail station was established for Gilmer and Salisbury, Contractors. When the Hicks arrived in November, 1864, they found a regular Post Office with Stephen Nixon as Post Master. He was also presiding Elder, but was succeeded the next year (1865) by George G. Snider.
They remained with their friends for a few days, but as Bro. Hick still suffered from a severe cold and had developed a nasty cough, which Ellen thought was an annoyance to others, she longed to take him to a quiet place away from the family. As they had brought with them money to invest in a new home, they decided to purchase a small two-room cabin then for sale, so they could have privacy and Bro. Hick could rest from his long journey and recuperate from his illness; at least until the weather was better for him to find work. Ellen realized that the rugged mountain cottage was just another timely blessing provided for them in their need, and at once set about to convert it into a comfortable home for her father.
Brother Bates and others had deposited the huge chests and other luggage at the cabin and Ellen was glad to leave her father with her friends until things were straightened. She looked about her. The walls were formed of the natural logs, brown in color, fitted close together, with pieces of bark still clinging, while the interstices were filled with strips of timber and plaster. The floor was of rough, unplaned boards with wide cracks between. The furniture consisted of a large fireplace made of native rocks set in plaster, topped with a rough pine board. There was a hastily constructed table, and shelves, presumably for use as a cupboard, also of rough boards, and several small benches made of split logs with sticks for legs. In one corner was a bed constructed in an unique manner. A hole was bored in each wall and into each hole a piece of timber was placed, the timbers converging in a right angle and resting on a single leg. At regular spaced intervals wooden pegs were set in the walls and timbers and a stout rope woven back and forth each way, making an adequate support for a large canvas sack or "tick" filled with straw.
She stepped to the door of the smaller room to note that it contained a duplicate bed, a few shelves and a split log chair. How could she make this bare, cheerless place into a real home? She had so few utensils, so many things were needed. The things they had used on the plains all required washing and scrubbing; the storm continued, there was not a place to hang the clothing and bedding to dry. What was she to do? A great wave of nostalgia swept over her I She thought of the little English apartment where she had spent her youth and young womanhood, surrounded by the well kept furniture, shining and smooth, little knickkacks and treasures accumulated through the years. She missed her girlhood friends, the venders, and the little shops where food could be had and so easily prepared! How lonely she was! She sat down upon her beautiful oakwood chest, now scratched and marred by too much travel, and gave way to a "Good cry". The tears relieved her nervous tension somewhat, and soon remembering her father’s great need, she dried her tears and set to work.
From her now travel-worn chests she drew forth warm blankets, fine linen sheets, and intricately stitched quilts and made up the bed in the big room for her father, so he could be near the fire. When the square ruffled pillows were in place, the bed was a gay sight indeed,-but more fitting for a lady’s boudoir, she knew. She thought, "What will people say?" but she brushed the thought aside, saying aloud, "Soon I will make a valance, too, for each of the beds, and then some of the chests and other things can bestored beneath. Oh, I will learn to be a Pioneer! Haven’t I learned much about substitution on the long trek?"
On the shelf above the fireplace, she placed a long handmade scarf, folding it so it hung aver the edge about six inches, showing the dainty pattern of eyelet embroidery the entire length. Here she placed her small shining copper teakettle. How she loved it! Just to hold it in her hands gave her an uplift of spirit. Next came the tall silver candlesticks and the beveled mirror, in its silver filigree frame to match; and last,-yes, the much prized "tea caddy"1 with its mother-of-pearl inlay and gold scroll trimmings executed by her own hands.
Now for the cupboard. From her traveling bag she extracted her English scissors and for the shelves cut strips of crisp white linen, letting them extend over the edge and for several inches up the wall. Lengths of gay flowered material were used for curtains, fastened to little pegs provided at the top of the cupboard and loped back with thread from her workbox. On the shelves she placed some of her precious silver spoons, keen-edged bone-handled knives and forks; plates, cups and saucers from the Blue Willowware china, and her mother’s Dresden china cream pitcher and sugar bowl.
For the table she chose a woven red and white checked cloth. At one side were her father's much worn Bible, a Morocco-bound copy of the Book of Mormon with his name in gilt letters on the cover, and a hymn book. Nearby stood the shining copper candlestick, a family heirloom, with one of her precious candles ready for lighting. On the opposite side of the table was her own little workbox and the "New Testament" presented to her on her eight birthday by her mother, but now worn shabby with age and use.
From an old blanket used on the plains she cut squares with scalloped edges to cover the rude benches, and the remainder of the blanket was used for a mat beside the bed. If only she had an easy chair for her father! It must be contrived someway. She had money, she could have one bought from Salt Lake City. She must see about it at once. The room seemed more inviting now. Still she had done nothing about the little bedroom. Lucky she had not had to scrub everything. Then she realized that the room was clean. Someone had done this work for her. The shelves, table, chairs, and floors had been recently scoured. The floors were still a little damp around the edges. Who had done this? Someone had brought the wood and piled it high, -neatly against the wall by the fireplace and made the fire. Her heart overflowed with gratitude toward these new-found friends and she sank to her knees to express her thanks to her Heavenly Father, the Giver of all. She was truly in Zion!
But someone was knocking at the door. Brother and Sister Bates, exclaiming over the transformation she had made in the room, and inviting her to supper. Darkness was falling as they entered the sleigh to return. It was snowing again, but these people surely knew how to get around. The entire wagon box, bows, cover and all, were lifted off the wheels and placed on low runners, and the horses moved forward easily, almost eagerly, over the great drifts, while inside, the passengers, with a blanket over their knees, were as warm as in a room.
The next day they moved into the little cabin and Brother Hick took great comfort in the nice bed Ellen had arranged for him, and lay relaxed, just resting. At first he had been a great inspiration to her, buoying up her spirits by his plans for the future. He was so thankful to the Lord that he was at last in Zion!
"Don't worry about a little snow storm, my lass; tomorrow the sun will shine and we can walk out upon a clean white carpet, glimpse the pines on yonder hills, and perhaps dip crystal water from a flowing brook. Then all too soon the snow will be gone and I shall dig in the soft earth and sow the precious seed. I wonder if you know how much I want to see my own harvest of golden grain waving in the breeze!" And at another time, "Soon it will be May and we shall go to Zion's capital city and I shall see with my own eyes, the living Prophet of God. Yes, and I shall look into his eyes and shake his hand! How kind is our dear Heavenly Father!"
But he had grown steadily worse and now slept or drowsed most of the time. The paroxysms of coughing left him utterly exhausted, and Ellen knew that the end was near. His poor frail body had become so weakened by the long hard trek. It was unable to throw off the severe chest cold,-too enervated to support the matchless spirit within. How lonely she felt as she kept constant vigil beside his bed.
The weather settled down into a rough winter blizzard which lasted for days. The wind shrieked and whistled around the corners of the house, piling the snow in great drifts, almost covering the little cabin, but leaving a hollowed-out cave almost touching the roof. In spite of the storm, friendly neighbors came to bring food, fresh water, wood, and wholesome cheer, and to assist with the nursing, shoveling their way through huge drifts, - Margaret Nixon, Mrs. Snider, Mrs. Bates and others proved themselves true friends in need. And the brethren were also faithful in their ministrations, even coming at night to "sit up" with the patient so Ellen could get some rest, they said, but this seemed very difficult.
On this, his last night, besides the constant anguish at her father's condition, there was the intermittent and ever recurring mournful howl of a stray dog which had taken up his watch beneath the bedroom window in the shelter of the protecting snow bank. At intervals he would scratch frantically at the frozen earth, making the particles fly against the window and the side of the house, and then his weird cry would ring out again -bringing a faint echo from the hills. The brethren drove him away many times but he was soon back again and by morning it was found he had scratched a hole large enough for a grave. But the dog was never seen again. Ellen never afterward heard the howling of a dog without a feeling of dread and a little cold shiver running up her spine.
In the early morning hours Brother Hick passed peacefully away in his sleep and the long vigil was ended. The storm had spent itself, too, and the sun rose clear and cold. But the snow was so deep no lumber was immediately available and it became necessary to take up the rude boards from the floor to make the casket. How thankful Ellen was that she had brought with her yards and yards of fine linen, muslin, lace and rich black broadcloth like felt. What better use for it than to cover the casket? Her father could be buried decently! Kind hands were reached out to her, sharing her labor and her grief, drawing her into their hearts and homes.
Dressed all in black for the funeral, Ellen was a marvel to these women who had lived most of their years in the west. The shining black silk dress, over the wide hoops, a cascade of ruffles from waist to hem, the adorable little bonnet and veil of net with scroll patterned edge, the rich cashmere shawl with long knotted fringe, the high buttoned shoes of finest kid, and long silk gloves, made a costume of perfection, set off as it was by Ellen’s slender figure.
As she sat straight and still, the only mourner beside her father's casket, in the little log meeting house, with its crude benches, her mind went back over the years, to the day when they laid her mother tenderly away in the crowded Church Yard in Birmingham. She thought of the shining black hearse with its prancing black horses, the coach and four, the pallbearers in their black uniforms and white gloves, the Church with its tall steeple, stained glass windows and comfortable pews; of the green sward and the chimes pealing forth on the mild morning air. What a contrast, she thought. And yet her father had been happy.
Now Elder Nixon was speaking, and then a small choir composed of people she did not know, sang, "Unveil they[sic] bosom, faithful tomb, take this new, new treasure to thy breast." Elders Nixon and Bates both spoke words of comfort and encouragement and then there was more singing. "Till the resurrection day", repeated over and over. They were then out in the snow again and in the covered sleighs; then by a yawning gulf on a snowy hillside. Ellen could not remember what happened after that, she was so tired, and the music seemed to say, "We lay thee softly down to sleep among the silent hills."
It was several days before she returned to her own little cabin. Ellen Hick, spinster, age 28, after only two weeks in a new country, left alone in a floorless cabin in the mountains, -no family, no way of making a living. What was there for her to do? She looked about the room. Some one had tidied the rooms and put away her father’s things; someone had brought the wood for her fire; wherever she looked there was evidence of the kindness of the friends she had found. Her heart swelled with gratitude. She must do something for them, help them. But how? What could she do?
As though in answer to her thought, a knock came on the door. Upon the doorstep stood a small boy of perhaps eight or nine years, maybe younger. One hand pulled his cap from his head while the other extended to her a parcel in brown paper. "Father sent you some meat," he said shyly, His clear blue eyes looked straight into hers, but he gave her the impression that he was rather frightened and might turn and run away at any moment.
"Come in," she invited, and taking him by the arm she drew him into the room and closed the door. "Come and warm yourself by the fire."
"It’s nice meat," he said, almost apologetically. "Father wanted you to have it."
She took the meat, thanking him for the favor. "And who is your father?"
"He is John Price." He looked at her wonderingly. "We brought the wood and made the fire while you were gone." He hesitated, - then, "It is a pretty room," he stated admiringly, looking up at the ugly mantle where she had placed the neddlework scarf and a few of her treasures in an effort at decoration. Then he added, lowering his head, "My mother fixed things like that."
A lump rose in Ellen’s throat. Placing the meat on the table she came back to stand beside the boy near the fire. She drew off his mittens, holding his hands in hers and warming them by the blaze. The small hands were red and chapped, the fingers short and thick, the nails in need of trimming. She tried to smooth his hair, but it was stiff and unkempt and one lock persisted in standing straight up at the crown. His cheeks were rosy with cold but his lips were chapped with exposure. His clothing needed attention also. Ellen could not trust herself to speak.
As though sensing her emotion, the boy spoke quickly, "It's nice here, but I must go. It"s milking time." Then hastily drawing on his mittens, he stepped to the door. "Good night. I hope you like the meat." Then he was gone, replacing his cap as he went, as swiftly as his legs could carry him away down the snowy path.
So this was the little motherless boy Brother Price had told her about as they sat beside her father’s bed. They had traveled with the Snow Company, too, but along with the freight-train division, and the Saints from the East. She had heard of a woman being run over and killed, and she remembered that the train had halted only a brief time for the burial; but the train was so large she had not gone to help. The Indians were hostile and they must hurry on their way. He had left her, his wife, his beloved Mary Ann, out there on the plains in a very shallow grave, wrapped only in a patch-work quilt. A baby son had also, been buried along the trail. What was it they had named him? John Richards, after himself and Apostle Willard Richards of whom he was very fond. They had also lost a small daughter just before leaving Ohio. What a sacrifice! Now he had only this boy left. He had come to Wanship bringing his machinery to set up a sawmill, the Church authorities having recommended this as a good location, there being plenty of timber on and near the Little Weber. But the company had been so late in arriving and the heavy snowfall coming so soon, had both helped to frustrate his plans. Now it would be necessary to wait for spring before choosing a suitable location.
It was unthinkable for Ellen to remain alone in the cabin. Why she was afraid to remain alone at night even in the little English apartment, much less this wild west country where every strange sound seemed a menace. The howl of the wolf and the coyote, the hooting of lonely owls made her "quake". Friends came every day and one of the sisters came to "stay the night" with her, but she knew this could not go on forever. She must not be a problem to them. Kindly John Price came often and brought gifts of wood and food. They talked of many things, for they did have much in common, each coming here for the sake of the Gospel, recently losing their loved ones and having their plans changed.
He told her of his father's family of 16 children, all boys except one, the sister Mary whom he idolized. Of their home in England, of his father’s death,-how he called the children to his bedside, giving each a charge. Among other things the old gentleman said: "My son Isaac, set your house in order for you shall die and not live; but my son John, you shall live to see the winding up of all the Prices." Soon after this, his dearly beloved brother, Isaac, died and John assumed "Isaac" as his second name, afterward signing his name, John Isaac Price, or John I. Price. He told of coming to America working in the lumber camps on the St. Lawrence River, then to New York where he worked in a bakery; of his marriage to the beautiful Mary Ann; of joining the Church and his preparations for the long journey; of his stay at Dayton and Cincinatti, Ohio; of his journey to theMissouri River; of many things; of his love for music, and sometimes they sang the songs of Zion together.
The "matchmakers" took note of these visits and were delighted, and the little town of Wanship began to buzz with gossip. But when the subject was adroitly mentioned to Ellen she was astonished. The idea was preposterous! Why she hardly knew the man! But a few days later John asked her to marry him and she had to give the matter serious consideration. Of course, it was "so sudden", she needed a few days to think about it. She knew he longed for the love, companionship and service only a woman can give; and she, too, needed companionship and protection, and their marriage would solve many problems for both of them, - but she hesitated because she was sure she did not love him as a woman should love the man she marries. She thought of her past life and the friends she had know[n], Romance had played but a small part in her days. She had been too busy to take any of the young men seriously, and her brother's sorrow and death had tended to disillusion her from any attempt at marriage.
When John came for his answer, after much persuasion, she gave him her promise, and it was decided that they would be married at once. The next day John made a trip to Coalville. Many were curious to know why, but he kept his secret. That night they announced their engagement and plans for their wedding three days later.
As Ellen wished it to be a quiet wedding, the Bates family invited them to have the service at their home, Presiding Elder John Nixon officiating. To make the place attractive and form a background for the ceremony, Sister Bates used what she had on hand, - yards and yards of cheese-cloth (useful in their cheese making), draping it in long white lengths and folds, from a wire across the corner between two windows. Over this another fold was draped and looped back with blue ribbon bows. In each window she placed two lighted tallow candles. The effect was pleasing, indeed.
Ellen's friends had urged her to wear one of the pretty, colorful dresses from her chests, quoting, "if married in black, you'll wish yourself back"; but according to old English custom she was in deep mourning for her father and it would show the grossest disrespect to disregard the rules. So their appeals fell on deaf ears; and when she dressed for the ceremony it was in her black silk gown; but she did compromise by leaving off the veil and by adding a white embroidered collar, long white gloves and tall shoes with white buttons and trimming. Her earrings, brooch and bracelets were of jet. Her many tiers of white petticoats trimmed with rows of lace and hand-made embroidery, were the envy of every lady present.
There was singing and prayer, then John and Ellen stood up in the appointed place and the ceremony began. All went well until the question came: "Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
Ellen was so nervous and flustered she answered, "No."
Elder Nixon, noticing her agitation, brought in a few more sentences to give her time to regain her composure, then asked the question again; and again she answered, "No." Elder Nixon paused a moment, then he said: "I was under the impression that you wish to be married. Is this true?" Ellen answered dazedly, "Why, yes, - " Elder Nixon stated, "Then your answer should be Yes."
When the question was presented the third time she answered, "Yes", but the sound was very faint. However, the ceremony proceeded, John slipped the ring on her finger and soon her friends were crowding around to "kiss the bride" and offer congratulations. A real banquet was served in their honor and a wonderful social evening enjoyed, after which John accompanied her to her cabin, where he gave her also Mary Ann’s wedding ring which she wore on her right hand.
It was decided that John and Isaac should move into Ellen’s cabin for the present. John had purchased some land a mile and a half or more up Silver Creek Canyon where he hoped to locate his mill on Silver Creek. He had selected a site for their home on the hill just above, near a clear flowing stream. If only he could get his mill running, all would be well.
As soon as the weather turned favorable he planned to get out timber to start his buildings.
These events occurred in the early part of December, 1864. Scarcely a month had elapsed since their arrival in Utah. How could so many important events be crowded into a few short weeks? Now life for Ellen was entirely changed. She now had a husband and a son to care for, and many duties to perform which she had not even thought of before.
Time passed rapidly, she was not unhappy in her work, but her ingenuity was taxed to the utmost to provide the necessities for all. It came to be a sort of "game" to match her "wits" against their need. Sometimes life seemed very difficult, but she tried extremely hard, - she must not disappoint John. The ways of the people were so different, sometimes she felt that she just did not fit into this environment at all. There were many things that other women did to help their husbands that she found quite impossible.
For instance, the other women could hitch up a team and go on an errand for their husbands, or travel wherever they needed to go, or even mount a horse with or without a saddle. But she was afraid to go near a horse. To her, horses were monsters to be held in check. This was a great disappointment to John, for he loved horses and looked forward to the time when he could be an owner of "blooded" horses, and he and Ellen could ride together away over the hills and view the surrounding country from the top of a mountain. Here life was free, beautiful, if only she had the heart to break away from daily cares and enjoy it. Young Isaac understood and enjoyed every moment he had free.
Also, the other women could snatch up a bucket, milk the cows, and care for the cattle if their husbands were away, or were late in getting home at night. This was inconceivable to Ellen. Either John or Isaac had to be there for chores every day, or if both were away, arrangements were made for a neighbor to perform these duties. "Did John think her a useless piece of furniture?" she wondered. "She kept the house, prepared the food, and kept their clothing clean and in repair, but that was all," she thought. But this was not all, for her spirit of right living and guidance was there, chiding gently, continually leading, pointing the way ahead, filling her position nobly.
Ellen was methodical, precise, always immaculately clean and trim, always presentable. Her naturally curly black hair was parted in the center, waved neatly down each side and braided into a simple knot low at the back. Over it she wore a fine black net. Sometimes she substituted a heavy meshed net set with jet or turquoise beads. In her ears she wore "hoops of gold". Rarely did she change earrings, but occasionally she wore jet, pearl, or turquoise drops to match a costume. Her large dark brown eyes met everyone squarely, and seemed to look into their very soul. Upon occasion those same eyes, if she were aroused to anger, seemed almost to flash sparks of fire. The "high color" in her cheeks was much admired. Her appearance was always dignified and elegant, whether dressed in a cheap calico frock or the most expensive gown. Someone has said: "Ellen is an aristocratic lady, with the hands of an artist, - her long slender fingers with tapering ends, fit for needlework and artistic designs, but unqualified for rough pioneer labor."
She was strictly Puritanic in her honesty. Right was right and nothing could change it. Knowing this, she was usually able to make instant decisions, and having decided, she very seldom changed her mind or purpose.
She had kept up the custom, a lifelong habit, of serving tea in the afternoons. Often friends dropped in for a cup of cheer. If they did not drink tea, she gave them each a cup of hot water with sugar and cream, and all went well. Always the repast included paper-thin slices of bread and butter, little tea cakes, raisin buns, or some other tasty tid-bit, for she was a good cook. Her fine bread-making was the talk of the town. The Price hospitality and generosity were known far and wide. Strangers were always made welcome beneath their roof.
On Saturday, March 4, 1865, the second inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln occurred and there was a large celebration held in Salt Lake City. John and other men made the trip from Wanship on Friday to "see the show". It was a memorable occasion; flags were everywhere in evidence; all felt thatthe end of the war was near. April 9, General Lee surrendered to General Grant and all was rejoicing in the North and among friends of the Union. Again flags waved and celebrations were in order; but five days later the Nation was shocked to learn of the assassination of President Lincoln.
The news reached Utah the next day, April l5, by telegraph. The Nation was plunged into mourning, - all business houses were closed. People had learned to love and trust Mr. Lincoln. He had freed the slaves, made it possible for them to become citizens of the country, and established the supremacy of the Union over the States. During his four years of office he had proved himself the "Elder Brother" of the people, even as Washington was the "father".
The months went by on winged feet, and spring was in the air. The snow was gone from the valley at last, and grass and tiny mountain flowers were springing up everywhere. It was then that Ellen discovered that she was to become a mother. Should she tell John? Would he be happy about it? Would he have time to listen?
John was very busy trying to get the machinery in place for his mill. The boy "Ike" had attended school for a few weeks, but had been with his father in the mountains and canyons most of the winter months getting out timber, in spite of the deep snow and the danger from snow-slides. Now John was anxious to begin sawing the lumber for their new home. There would be ample patronage too, as many people needed lumber.
One morning Isaac was not in time for breakfast and John found it necessary to step to the door and call him in a loud voice. Isaac came at once, but when chided for his tardiness, he said, "I was watching Mrs. Snider pick their geese."
Ellen’s lips parted in dismay. "You don't mean she was picking the feathers from the live birds?", she asked.
"Yes. She says they don’t need the feathers now the warm weather is coming and they will only lose them anyway. She wants to make a feather bed. Sometimes she let go of the goose’s wings and the feathers scattered all over the place." Isaac laughed gleefully at the remembrance.
Across the table the eyes of John and Ellen met in a level gaze, and to Ellen there seemed to be a challenge in John’s eyes. "Could she do what Mrs. Snider was doing?" He had purchased six geese recently, thinking to get a good start, as they would have a fine range at their new home site and geese would bring a fine price at the market next fall. They were known to be excellent eating, too. The birds would need but little care during the summer months.
Ellen was extremely afraid of geese. On the days when she had been left to feed them she had been careful to place the feed when the birds were away at the watering place, and had then retreated to the door-step out of danger. Her mind went back to her childhood days at Pershey, when the children chased the geese for sport, until one day a wise old goose flew upon Ellen’s back, flapping its wings and scratching with its ugly feet. The children ran screaming to the house, but Tom had thrown a lasso around one bird and snaked it behind him, up the steps and into the kitchen, where it flapped its wings making the feathers fly, and covered the floor with "dung". In desperation the mother stilled the panic by catching the goose, removing the lasso, and releasing the bird out of doors. The chastisement was sufficient; the geese were given a wide berth after that.
Ellen's mind came back to the present. Isaac was saying: "Perhaps I could help mother. I knew how Mrs. Snider was doing it." Did John really expect her to do it? She must not disappoint him. John said, "All right, son," and was gone to his day’s work. Immediately after the morning chares were completed, Isaac chased the geese into the stable and found two old powder cans to sit on. "Could we use the washtub for the feathers? It needs something big, they mount up so fast." He ran to fetch it. Then he caught a goose and gave instructions: "You stretch the neck out straight, placing your foot across it and leaning your shoe against its head, gently, so it can still breathe, then you hold both legs and both wings tightly with one hand and pick with the other."
Trembling in every muscle, she took hold of the bird as instructed while Isaac caught another goose and began his attack on that. A moment later a stream of moisture flowed freely down the side of Ellen’s apron, her fingers at once relaxed their hold and the bird ran, quacking and flapping to safety, while she toppled over in a faint.
"Mother, Mother." Isaac called, "Are you hurt?" He came to her rescue at once and realizing she had fainted, he snatched up a tin can lying near and ran to the stream close by for water. Washing his hands quickly and rinsing the can, he ran back, sprinkling the water over her face. She revived at once, but looking up into the straw-thatched roof of the stable, she thought she must be dead, or dying, at least. Tears welled up in her eyes and overflowed. How pale she was. Isaac removed the soiled apron, saying, "I'll wash it for you, mother, out in the creek." He helped her to her feet brushing the dirt from her clothing; then he assisted her to the house, removing her sunbonnet and shoes, urging her to lie down, which she did. He covered her lightly and then went back to his task.
The next day she felt much better and decided to do a little washing, and needing additional water, walked down to the creek to bring it. She filled her bucket and was ascending the incline when to her dismay she saw all six geese coming toward her, their necks extended, hissing, hissing! She tried to slip past them but one flew upon her back, flapping, scratching and picking with all its might, while the others picked at her dress and shoes, making their hideous noises.
Helplessly frightened, she went down under the onslaught. Her screams of terror brought Margaret Nixon, who was working in the garden near, and she laughingly shooed the birds away, helping Ellen to the house.
"Why are you so afraid of them?" Margaret laughed. "Their hissing is just pure bluff." They know you’re afraid, "Why, you could lick the whole bunch of them with one hand if you were not afraid yourself." She laughed again. The scene was ludicrous to the extreme, the geese hovering about with their closely plucked bodies and their long wings outspread. Perhaps she could cheer her friend by making a joke of it. She laughed again.
"You know, Ellen, I think those birds like you. They were just entertaining you with their music."
But Ellen failed to see the humor in the situation. "I knew it, I knew it," she sobbed hysterically, "They blamed me for yesterday."
Margaret tried to sooth her as best she could, but in a few minutes she rushed away to bring Mrs. Bates, for she realized her friend was very ill; and soon Ellen knew that her hopes of motherhood had departed.
John was an early riser. At the first "cheep" of the birds and the faintest streak of light in the east he was out of bed and away to his duties, and Ike beside him, at the morning chores, bringing in the foaming milk and straining it into the pans, then hoeing in the garden until breakfast at 7:00 o’clock, then off to his day’s work. As the oxen were slow and it took too much time to drive home to dinner at noon, they carried lunch with them. They missed the "afternoon tea" and snacks Ellen always had for them.
John found it necessary to hire help to handle the heavy machinery and logs and this made extra home duties. By mid-June the saws, skids and other equipment were in place, ready for operation, but only a temporary shelter had been erected because of lack of lumber. Soon the piles of logs they had brought from the canyon and placed along the brow of the hill on the south began to disappear and piles of lumber to accumulate on the north side of the mill. Now they were ready for a good market.
They found prompt sale for the lumber, but most of it must be freighted to Salt Lake City to be used for scaffolding and other purposes in the building of the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle. Two trips each week were made, the hired man driving one yoke of oxen, young Isaac the other. The lumber brought a good price. The trimmings were cut into stove lengths for firewood and also freighted to the city. Here a good load of firewood of 4 ½ cords brought $135.00, or $30.00 a cord. They usually loaded both ways, bringing back supplies for themselves and others or freight for the local store or other businessmen. Often they were obliged to exchange lumber and wood for produce. The rate paid for freighting was $2.00 per ton for 100 miles.
"By order of the City Council 40 rods on each side of East Temple Street, measuring from the Council House to Kimball and Lawrence’s store on the west, and from Pres. Young’s residence to Capt. Hooker’s corner on the east, were set off and appropriated to the use of those bringing wood, hay and coal to market", hence it was to this location that the Price’s drove to sell their wares, The following prices of commodities were listed October 4, 1864.
Flour $12.00 per 100 lbs Beef on Foot .10 per lb Wheat $5.00 " bu. Mutton " .121/2 " " Corn $4.00 " " Pork " .30 " " Barley $2.00 " " Dried Apples .75 " " Oats $1.50 " " Dried Peaches.75 " " Potatoes $1.50 " " Hay - - $25.00 " ton Onions $4.00 " " Molasses - $3.00 " gal Beans $10.00 " " Preserves - $6.00 " " Peas $6.00 " " Tobacco - $3.00 " lb.
John had purchased a spirited bay riding pony and saddle for recreation from his long day’s labor,, and he often went for a ride sometimes over the hills to the south to Park City, five miles away. Here he discovered veins of coal along the mountain side and made several attempts to stake a claim there; but an old Indian Chief seemed to have priority and when he learned about the "black wood" he refused to relinquish, so John's attempt failed.
In June 1865 the yearly baptism service was held at Silver Creek, up near the mill where the water ran clear and deep. Almost the entire town turned out, making a picnic of it. Assembling at 10:00 o'clock, a meeting convened out under the open sky beneath the arched branches of the trees. Were not the groves God’s first Temples? The people sat on the grassy mound or on buffalo robes spread on the ground. There was singing, prayer and speaking; Then the baptisms were performed by Elder John Bates. All felt humble and thankful for this God-given ordinance. Isaac was baptized that day, and the next day at Fast Meeting he was confirmed a member of the Church by Elder John Bates. George G. Snider had now succeeded Stephen Nixon as Presiding Elder of the Wanship Branch.
Ellen thought: "Young Isaac is a fine boy,- so sturdy and dependable, never afraid of work, and always helpful and cheerful. Why, he could be relied upon to do a man’s work most any place, driving the oxen or helping with the mill, and he not 10 years old until October, Hadn’t he driven the oxen and freight wagon all the way across the plains last year?"
It was inconvenient working so far from home every day and John was anxious to get their new home built on the little knoll across the road west of the mill, but time sped by and the summer was almost over before the construction work actually began. John had been so busy sawing every day for others. Ellen went with Ike to a long ravine filled with rocks and gravel to gather stones for the foundation. It was hard work lifting the stones into the wagon, the sun was hot, the oxen so slow. After many trips, over a period of days, sufficient stones had been gathered and the work of building actually commenced. Friends surprised them with a "Building Bee" and the work went rapidly. What a blessing are understanding, helpful friends!
The last of September found long cavalcades of Indians passing through the valley on their way to the South for a warmer climate for the coming winter; stopping to beg for food, and sometimes taking with them many of the best horses and cattle to be found in the region. It was early for them to be moving, but the Indians predicted a long, hard winter. "Heap big snow! Indian no hunt! Indian get ready, long cold!"
The settlers were glad to see the Indians depart. For it had been a hard year; they had found it necessary to be on the alert every moment to keep their animals safe. The Black Hawk War was raging in Sanpete and Sevier Valleys and many, many settlers had been killed and wounded, their homes burned and their horses and cattle stolen. Many thousands of cattle were driven away during the next few years, but the Wanship people, obeying Pres. Brigham Young’s injunction: "It is better to feed the Indians than to fight them," were fortunate to lose few of their cattle, but a herder was kept busy every day.
Preparation for winter required great haste. The freighting teams brought back hay and provisions. The house was rushed to completion, but many things remained unfinished, John finding it very difficult to get sheds erected for the animals and an adequate shelter for his mill and machinery. In August he had added a small planeing mill and this had netted him "a pretty penny" as the planed boards were much in demand for floors, doors, and finishing processes. And Ellen had a planed floor in her cabin.
The vegetables from the garden were stored in the "dirt" cellar under the floor, with a liberal covering of straw to keep out the frost. The entrance was by trap door in the kitchen floor. Above the beams, rough boards were placed, forming a ceiling over part of the kitchen, with a small ladder leading up to it. Here the wheat, flour and many other provisions were stored. Cobs of corn hung from the rafters. Here, too, Isaac had a comfortable bed. John made a trip to the city and brought back windows for the new home and a small cook stove, which was a wonderful help to Ellen and made the place cozy.
By mid-October winter was upon them, and when Pres. Young’s circular appeared in November, calling all Bishops and Presiding Elders to assist in establishing telegraph lines through the settlements, the snow was too deep for such labor. Wanship was cut off from communication with the outside world for most of the winter. With the coming of spring the work was again delayed and it was not until September, 1871, that the line was completed from Salt Lake City to Coalville; and not until December, 1860, that a permanent railroad was in operation between Coalville and Park City. The winter of 1865-1866 is recorded in Utah history as extra cold and severe.
In the new home on the hill the Price family was isolated from all humanity for weeks as the blizzards continued and the snow piled deep in roads and trails. They found it impossible to drive down to church on Sunday and also for Isaac to walk to school each day. He made it a time or two on snow-shoes, but was caught in a terrible blizzard each day on the return journey, and was dissuaded against the effort, waiting for better weather. Men were lost within a few rods of their homes. It became necessary to attach a rope line from the house to the stables, and to cling to the rope to keep from being blown out of course when going out to care for the stock.
An abundance of wood had been piled against the side of the house. John was hoping it would last. He chafed against the storm-imposed restraint from remunerative employment. He should be in the canyons getting out timber for the summer sawing. In the meantime, he busied himself with tasks at hand: putting up window frames and door frames and building shelves in the bedroom for a wardrobe out of boards from the attic storage. He also found it interesting to help Ellen with many of her duties.
To make the flour hold out they parched corn on top of the stove, ground it in a tiny coffee mill and ate it with molasses and a little bacon grease. The settlers called it "vreckle". Isaac liked to eat the whole kernels when parched, they tasted like nuts. Whole wheat was also cooked and used for cereal, or ground in the little mill and cooked. Lucky they had milk, and butter made in the little "dasher churn." How good the hot soup tasted in the evening after being out in the cold to do the chores.
Isaac being of a studious disposition, spent much of his time studying his school books and reading the nice books Ellen had brought from England. He liked to whittle, too, and from the soft white pine sticks of stove wood, fashioned many objects and toys, among them a tiny violin equipped with strings of twine, and keys to wind them into place. By candlelight John often read from the "Good Book" and they sang the songs of Zion together; Isaac memorized the words of many of the songs.
Spring came with a rush, the first warm days melting the snow, torrents of water ran down the hills and ravines, the canyon was filled with a mightyrushing current carrying everything before it. In a few weeks it had subsided and soon the hillside was an emerald sward and Ellen was gathering her first mess of greens, - young pigweeds.
She looked out over the landscape arrayed in its new Spring attire, so lately held in an icy grasp. "I am the Resurrection and the Life," she quoted. A new hope rose within her, and because of its promise, which she knew was true, she was filled to overflowing with thanksgiving. She, like the earth, would show her thankfulness by discarding her mourning, bringing new zest and cheerfulness to her tasks. She felt young, alive, and she must give thanks in the proper spirit for this new promise.
On Sunday morning John and Isaac stared with admiration and pride when Ellen donned her lovely sea-blue silk gown and all the accessories for Church. They noticed the tiers of puffings and crystal bead lace on the sleeves, the velvet bodice over the sheer white blouse with its tiny corded neckline, and the wide skirt of dainty ruffles from waist to hem. The Tuscan straw bonnet with wide silk ribbon strings and trimmings to match the dress, the turquoise ornaments and earrings, the long white silk gloves, and last of all, the beautiful blue Paisley shawl. She made a picture "worthy of a gold frame".
The weeks passed rapidly. Now it was June. Isaac was away most of the time freighting or herding cattle. John was up and away at the first streak of light, and Ellen found it necessary to carry his meals to the mill. This proved very difficult. The sight of food nauseated her. She placed the dishes in the bottom of a large pan, the food on top, covered with a clean tea towel; but her arms were aching long before she reached the road and she was obliged to set the pan upon the ground and rest before proceeding, and many times thereafter. Next time she would put it in two buckets. It would be easier to carry. At the fence she leaned her arms and forehead against the rails and waited for darkness to pass and the sun to shine again. There was no gate it was difficult to crawl through between the rails. Sometimes she lost consciousness and later found herself lying upon the ground looking up into the blue sky, the sun shining down upon her mercilessly.
The men attached the food eagerly. She was glad they liked it. One day John noticed her appearance and her quietness, and thought: "Ellen is looking pale and puny again. The winters here just do not seem to agree with her. If she would get out more in the fresh air it might help. He must get her a pony and teach her to ride." He knew she would never gallop freely over the hills as he had hoped, but if he got her a trusty horse and a side saddle she could ride with him in her stately way and they could enjoy many things together.
A few days later he surprised her by appearing at the house with a fine black riding horse. He called Ellen out to admire it, which she did from the steps. After much coaxing she approached very unwillingly, her hand outstretched, fear bristling from her like porcupine quills. The horse at once put up his ears, stepped back, snorted, and reared upon his hind feet. Ellen scampered back to the steps.
John was thoroughly provoked and uttered an uncouth swear word. She had never heard him swear before and she was quite upset. "You are so scared yourself, you frighten him to death. He thinks you are going to hurt him," John scolded roundly. "You can overcome that fear if you want to. He couldn’t hurt you if he were mean with me holding his bridle. He’s as gentle as a kitten, and as easy as a cradle. Look how he responds when I caress him." She watched in wonder for the horse acted like he understood everything John said and did. "I bought him for you," he said, almost accusingly.
Her lips fell open in astonishment. "For me." she exclaimed. "Why, Why," - what she wanted to say was, "Take him away. I don't want him. I don't like horses." But all she said was, "O, John" in a very small voice.
"Now walk out here like you were pleased with him," he commanded, "and put your hand up and pet him," Ellen’s heart sank, but she must not disappoint John. She walked quickly forward and reached up a trembling hand to caress the horse’s shoulder, then his neck, then his face, and to her surprise the horse responded as he did to John.
"Why, his coat is as smooth as silk," she said.
"Of course it is, and he is so gentle he would eat out of your hand."
"I’ll bring him a sugar lump," said Ellen, running quickly into the house. The horse ate the sugar she brought and nosed for more. Then she drew from her pocket a blue satin ribbon which she fastened to his bridle. As John led the horse away she knew he was pleased.
That night John brought company for supper, - a man from Sniderville, and the visitor stayed to talk afterward. Finally John told her: "This is the man from whom I bought the horse today. As you have so many things shut up in your chests I thought you would be willing to exchange some of your finery for such a fine animal, especially since the horse is for you."
Just what did John mean? As he did not speak the man explained: "My daughter admired the blue Paisley shawl you wore last Sunday, I thought you might like to trade it in on the horse." Ellen was aghast. "Oh, not the blue one," she thought, "not the blue one."
Then John spoke: "Since we do not really use the silver candlesticks and mirror, I thought we might as well let them go."
All her life Ellen had been quick spoken. She was holding on to her tongue now with difficulty. Many thoughts went through her mind in a brief moment. These things were her own property, her treasures. She had earned them by the sweat of her brow. Since when did anyone have the right to say what should be done with them, or to trade them for a horse she did not want? She had struggled hard to bring these things safely across the plains. They could never be replaced. Was there anything in the marriage covenant that required such a sacrifice? "With all my worldly goods I thee endow." Had that been in her wedding service? She couldn't remember. She had always thought that was the promise of a man to his wife. Did it work both ways? She did not know. What was right to do? She knew the men were watching her, a little troubled at her silence.
She rose quietly and slowly took down the tall silver candlesticks and beveled mirror, holding them in her hands, her fingers moving over the fine filigree trimming, then she placed them on the table. Opening the oak chest she drew forth the red Paisley shawl, spreading it out for his inspection.
"Oh", she prayed, "Please let him take this one." But the man only shook his head. "No, no, it must be the blue one," he said.
She then displayed a lovely cashmere, of all wool, the colors interwoven, red, blue, mauve, very delicate and alluring; then the gray, its colors and patterns blending so harmoniously, but each time the man only shook his head. Then she reluctantly brought forth the blue one, - her favorite.
The man rose at once, "I'll take that," he said aggressively, Ellen folded it meekly and handed it to him, replaced the others in the chest, closed the lid, her eyes shooting sparks of fire from repression, - and stepping into the little bedroom, she closed the door.
The next day John brought the horse again to the door, this time equipped with a fine side saddle. He was riding his own spirited bay with saddle shined to perfection, and really looked handsome. Ellen knew he had come to take her riding with him. He would teach her to ride. What could she do? She must not take the risk of riding now. She should have told him of her condition. He would be very disappointed, she knew, if she did not go. She waited. He stood in the door, very displeased.
"Isn't this enough of foolishness? Come on, and get on the horse. We're going for a ride."
From a chest she drew a black bonnet with strings, a short black jacket that buttoned up the front, and a pair of black gloves. In a moment she was ready and he assisted her to mount. He was very proud as they rode along; he knew they looked nice together. She tried to respond to his happy mood, and although they did not go fast or far, it was a beginning. The next day they rode again but he found she was too tired to be gay, so they tried to gallop and she found it hard, indeed, to hang on. Twice she had nearly pitched headlong to the ground. John laughed ruefully, but told her she was improving. She felt she would never be a successful horsewoman.
That night she was very ill and John was troubled when she insisted that he drive to Wanship to bring their friend, Mrs. Bates, He was disappointed and conscience-stricken when he learned that their hopes of parenthood had been destroyed.
Ellen's grief was inconsolable. Sitting by her side and awkwardly trying to comfort her in her sorrow at their great loss, he came to realize how very frail and delicate she was, and he began to understand something of the gigantic struggle she was making to try to fit into this life of labor and hardship, so different to her former experiences, A wave of tenderness filled his heart. He must cherish her and care for her better in the future; she might at any moment be snatched away from him as Mary Ann had been.
John realized he had acquired the American way of hurry, hurry, - and his habits had put an added hardship on Ellen. He at once began to arrange his work differently. The meals were prepared at a specified time and the men were on hand at that time. He resumed the Old English custom of quitting his day’s work at 5:30 and having supper at 6:00 so the days were much easier for all. He saw that there was always plenty of water at hand so she would not have to go to the spring and carry the heavy buckets up the hill. The kindlings were always prepared at night and plenty of wood for each day. In September, from a freighting trip to Salt Lake City, he brought back a gorgeous hand lamp for her birthday. This was a special event-. The lamp was in use in the family all the rest of their lives.
During the winter Ellen’s spare time was all taken up in fashioning dainty articles of clothing for the new baby expected in the spring. The tiny infant dresses and slips were exquisitely trimmed with fine hand stitched tucks and eyelet embroidery. It was a layette highly finished but quite adaptable for practical use, and one to be proud of.
Being in delicate health, she did not attend church this winter as she was unable to walk the long distance to Wanship. Time passed slowly and if friends called their visits were highly welcome. Isaac was assigned the duty of helping her with the meals and heavy work. Then on May 3, 1867, her little son was born. He was very tiny and frail and it was with difficulty that his life was preserved. (It was said that he could have been placed in a quart cup) Soon after birth he was blessed and named John Thomas Price by Presiding Elder George G. Snider. The care of this child was the chief concern of the entire family. This event changed many things in the home, as only a baby can. With constant care he developed rapidly and became the treasure of the household. With curly black hair and gray-blue eyes that flashed like his mother’s when moved by emotion, can we blame her if he became the idol of her life.
The years went by with the men folk following the same activities of logging, farming and freighting. Also Isaac hired out herding cattle for Mr. Snider. Isaac felt that he would like to have a farm of his own and cattle where there was a free range. So in the fall of 1871 John made a hurried trip of investigation in Rich County, Utah, and succeeded in purchasing from a Mr. George Braffet, "Squatters Rights" and improvements on a farm located at Round Valley, a few miles south of Laketown. Application was also made for "homestead" rights. On the property was a large spring which furnished an abundance of clear water. There was farming land and native meadows. The adjacent hills offered an ideal grazing pasture.
Accordingly in the spring of 1872 they accumulated what means they could from the sale of the mill, the home, their winter’s cache of logs and other timber, and prepared for departure. After loading their household goods into two wagons drawn by oxen, and driving their cattle before them, they started on the long journey which required about a week of travel. With them was Tobias Rasmussen, a boy of about thirteen years, who was apprenticed to John for a period of three years. He rode the bay pony and drove the cattle. Ellen and her small son, Johnny, now five years old, found it quite a tedious journey over the rough roads in the early spring. Traveling up Echo Canyon brought to her mind the long trek when she and her poor tired father trudged wearily through the snow and mud down this same road on their way to Zion, eight years before. Now she could enjoy the rough beauty of the sculptured rocks, terraced stone cliffs and the free, wild growth of the canyon.
At Evanston, Wyoming, they rested for a half day before starting down through the Bear River Valley. When they emerged from Laketown Canyon they were thrilled to behold the peaceful, blue waters of the beautiful "Bear Lake"1 spread out before them, with the fringe of tall green trees and grassy meadows in the foreground, the small level valley with cultivated fields and townsite, - the high fort in the center and the log cabins of the settlers dotted here and there, mostly along the creek. They spent the night at the fort and the next day made their way around "The Narrows" to Round Valley and the new location.
The farm was on the East side of the long valley up next to the hills, with the creek on the south and the farming land extending down to the meadows, the whole reaching about half way across the valley. The road ran through the property North and South. There was a log shanty on the creek just below the road in which they lived the first summer. A long log house, built by Mr. Braffet, was standing on the brow of the hill and this was moved to the corner of the property a cross the road from the first shanty, beyond the creek. This had a large fireplace, a tall rock chimney and was quite commodious. After moving into this cabin the other shanty was converted into a stable with other additions for convenience.
Later a comfortable home was erected farther East, about half way to the hills, and a stream was diverted for culinary use. The house, of squared logs, with shingled roof and weather-board finish, faced the west and furnished a magnificent view of the entire valley. It was painted white and boasted a spacious porch on the west, with decorative pillars and round carved spokes under the railings. In front was a small grassy plot with a few shade trees and flowers, and to the north, a tiny small-fruit garden,- currants and gooseberries.
Directly east stood the long log sheds with mangers on each side, the barn and corrals extending beyond. The mangers provided a suitable place for the hens, ducks and geese to "steal their nests" to "set" and bring forth their young. They supplied the table with eggs and meat and also brought remuneration from the markets.
Being very frugal, Ellen made butter and cheese and cured the family meat and bacon. Their refrigerator was a wooden box with a lid, anchored in the cool, flowing stream beneath a thick, drooping willow bush. Here the butter, milk, cream, buttermilk, small portions of fresh meat, or other perishable food, could be kept in perfect condition on the hottest day.
North of the house was the granary, built over a deep cellar which was "rocked up" inside, and made also an ideal "cooler" for preservation of food in summer and was frost proof in winter, for storage of vegetables. Here the milk was set up in pans to let the cream "rise" for butter.
The meals were served in clock-like order: Breakfast at 1:OO; dinner at 11:30; teatime, 4:00; supper, 6:00 o'clock. A few minutes after 4:00 each day, Ellen could be seen making her way down the road and over the trails to the hay fields, grain fields, or wherever the men were at work, with her basket of dainties and a large kettle of tea or coffee; or perhaps it may be ginger or hop beer, or even dandelion wine; sometimes it was lemonade made from clear cold water flavored to taste with sugar, citric-acid and lemon extract. Sometimes soda was added to make it "fizz".
John and the boys often tried to get her to climb upon the load of hay or grain and ride home. She tried it once, but almost fell off, which frightened her so terribly that she refused the offer ever after, saying she preferred walking to the continual shaking, which made her dizzy.
Isaac was now of marriageable age and began to realize the desires of his heart by taking out "Homestead Rights" to a quarter-section of land adjoining his father’s farm on the north. Here he built a log cabin with two rooms and extended the culinary ditch down over the hill for home use.
A reservoir was built below "Price's Spring" which supplied both farms with irrigation water as well as those of several neighbors.
September 26, 1878, Isaac was married to Ann Maria Reed at the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, and brought his bride to live in the new cabin he had built. They were blessed with a large family, - twelve children. He became a Bishop and was active in the Church all his life.
Ellen was always proud of him and his family. Ann was always received with love and kindness and the two were the best of friends, each aiding the other when needed. During an epidemic of LaGrippe, Isaac's oldest son, Elvin, was called by death. Ann and Alice, the eldest daughter, were extremely ill for several weeks. Ellen took them into her home and cared for them until they had recovered.
Ellen’s sister, Sarah, with her husband and family, had now arrived in Utah and were living in Salt Lake City. Although Ellen was glad of the freedom of the farm life with John and her much loved son, she sometimes longed to see Sarah and her children. Sarah’s letters were few and far between, owing to the full time work and responsibility of raising a large family. Ellen was proud of her curly headed son, too, and would like Sarah to see him. Would John consider taking her to Salt Lake, she wondered?
During the next few days she suffered with a bad toothache. She had suffered much in the years since little John’s birth and the pain was now almost past endurance. Much of the time, both night and day, was spent in walking the floor. Her restlessness disturbed John’s peace also. Then one morning when he came in to breakfast he asked, "Do you think you could stand to take a trip to Salt Lake City?"
"Why, who is going?" "I thought it might be possible for me to take you down there to a dentist. Perhaps it would be best for you to have all of your teeth out and get some false ones. Don’t you think that is best?"
"Perhaps. But that will not be easy."
"Well, we will see what we can do when we get the grain harvested and everything done."
Accordingly, a few weeks later, arrangements were made with a neighbor lady (Mrs. Clara Watson) to take care of the house and cook the meals during their absence. A pair of sleek bays were hitched to their best farm wagon which was amply greased and fitted with provisions and conveniences for the four-day trip to the city of their first experience in Zion.
The journey was strenuous, but was made somewhat easier by the spring-seat which John provided. They camped near clear streams and slept in the wagon with the canopy of blue sky, studded with millions of twinkling stars shining down upon the heavy canvas stretched tightly over the hardwood bows to shut out the cold night air. Once she was awakened by the shrill cry of a coyote which made her wince, but with John beside her no harm could come, so she turned closer to him and tried to lull herself back to sleep. She thought she could still smell the faint smoke from the dying embers of their campfire.
Upon reaching Salt Lake City they drove into the "Tithing Yard" and John unhitched his tired horses, watered them at a nearby creek within the inclosure and bought hay and grain for their feed. After "sprucing up" they proceeded to Z.C.M.I. Department Store where Sarah's husband, Thomas Ash, worked as a clerk. Ellen was very happy to meet her brother-in-law after the many years of separation, and he hastily made plans to pilot them straightway to Sarah, who was at that moment preparing the evening meal in good old English style. What a happy meeting of the sisters! Sarah and Tom met John for the first time.
The days of the visit passed quickly. They must endeavor to see the dear missionary friends who had been so kind to than on the westward trek. They must also arrange for Ellen’s dental problems. How she disliked losing her own natural teeth! Perhaps she may not be able to get good teeth like her own. This was uppermost in her mind as they were passing a little shop where some lovely photographs were displayed. John noticed the pictures and, at his suggestion, they entered the shop and had one taken of themselves, seated side by side. A copy of this picture remains in the family at the present time.
The trip home was an ordinary one; or perhaps Ellen was suffering too much discomfort from the loss of her teeth to take interest in her surroundings. Some time passed, perhaps a year or two, before the teeth were replaced. She was very proud and disliked to receive company or to appear in public without them. "No, she couldn't go to church looking like that!"
The spring rush of work over, John decided they should make the trip to the city to visit the dentist before the haying started. Sarah's letter of a few day’s previously had told them that her oldest daughter, Lizzie, had been very ill. Ellen thought how nice it would be if they could bring her back with them for the summer. Perhaps the country life and surroundings would tend to bring back health to her beloved niece. Much to Ellen’s satisfaction and pleasure, Lizzie returned with them and remained several months. Toward fall she returned home with a neighbor who was making the trip to the City. For a few weeks she seemed much improved, but soon took a relapse and died. Ellen sorrowed with her sister over the loss of her lovely daughter.
(Ellen’s much-talked-of teeth-proved to be a "poor fit"1 and not very useful. They were worn mostly for appearances and were often found on a dish in the cupboard.)
Johnny had now grown to young manhood, tall, straight and slender, always immaculate in dress, important in manner, and both pleasing and impressive in appearance. He had a wide acquaintance with the young people of the whole country side.
From his childhood he had a great love for horses. His father gave him a prancing bay pony and equestrian equipment: Stetson hat, chaps and jacket of ornamented leather, saddle and bridle of best tooled leather with tapaderas on the stirrups, intricately beaded gauntlet gloves, high boots and shiny, clinking Spurs.
To Ellen's dismay she found he was falling in love. Being a wise mother she gave him some good counsel, and advice, praying earnestly to God for the guidance and protection of her only child, the idol of her heart.
On December 7, 1888, he was married to Mary Ellen Allen, a neighbor's daughter, in the Logan Temple. For several years after their marriage they lived at the old homestead in Round Valley. They were very happy and John and Ellen thought a great deal of their new daughter. As the years went by they learned to love her as their very own.
Johnny and Mary Ellen became the proud parents of twelve children, six of them being born before Ellen’s death. The association with these children brought much happiness into her life and she showered them with the greatest affection.
Having bought the Gibbons Town property, John and Ellen moved to Laketown July 26, 1890. It consisted of a house and lot (North-East corner) adjoining the town Co-op store and extending half way up the block; also the land across the street east, partly on the hillside, with barn, stables, corrals and other improvements.
The land was fertile and a fair amount of water, obtained from Laketown Canyon Creek, served to irrigate the long rows of raspberry and currant bushes, apple trees and the various farm crops on this as well as on the opposite side of the street.
The house was a long-low structure, six rooms all on one floor. The walls were "white-washed" and always seemed to smell fresh and clean. Carpets were of homemade woven rag variety. Rag rugs here and there were also homemade, some braided, some with fancy designs stitched to a heavy background. The walls were more or less covered with the offerings of the "wee folk", "So they will know their little gifts are appreciated."
A Charter Oak stove with open grate and hearth stood in the center of the long kitchen. The high cupboards were full of unusual dishes, photographs, and fancy articles, presents from friends and relatives. Always there were growing plants in the windows: variegated-leaf geraniums, wandering Jew, petunias, balsams, or mother-of-thousands, a little vine covered with tiny white flowers and round green leaves, in a hanging basket.
In the front yard was an old fashioned flower garden. On the west side of the walk leading to the front gate grew a very large lilac bush, pink roses, marigolds, larkspurs, and by the gatepost a decorative plant called "Old Man". On the east side an enormous apple tree stood in the center of the lawn, almost covering the entire plot, while along the path were roses, sweet Williams, blue flax, pansies, and by the gatepost a decorative plant known as "Old Woman". Then all along the front picket fence the lowly hollyhocks flaunted their gorgeous colors in a stately row. Hop vines made a covering of green for all out buildings. The flowers were a never ending delight to the grandchildren, so in this loved spot they always gathered when visiting grandmother on Sunday.
During fruit time the berries and currants were always a worry to Ellen, both in the way of picking them for market and for home use and in "bottling" the winter’s supply. As she was now getting older a "swimming feeling" in her head, especially when in the hot sun, hampered her work in the garden. However, she was appreciative and thankful, both for the fruit and for the help that might be offered.
For many years John planted vegetables on the lot and stored a good supply in the spacious cellar. A year’s supply of grain was kept in the little granary. A sufficient amount of wood and coal was always at hand, piled neatly in the little shed near the kitchen door. John kept the paths to the outer buildings swept clear so Ellen had no difficulty in doing her chores. She never had to carry wood or water as John always attended to these chores in the early morning.
For several years he kept a riding pony, a cow and chickens. Every day he would saddle his pony and take a brisk ride to Round Valley, followed by his faithful old dog, "Ring". On days when it was not necessary for him to take the usual ride to the farm, he would often spend some time over at the Co-op store talking and joking with the town people, whoever might happen in to trade. He was well liked and these little visits were enjoyable, but they annoyed Ellen very much and she would often remonstrate with him, wishing he would find better things to do.
In the evenings they sat around the fire and he read the Bible almost every night. In cold winter weather they relished a bowl of hot bread and milk, and slices of toasted cheese before retiring. (Or baked onions! Umm!)
One winter Ellen became extremely ill with inflammatory rheumatism. Every joint in her body became swollen and painful. The slightest touch produced violent pain. John was much concerned. Isaac and Ann, Johnny and Mary Ellen and friendly neighbors did all they could to relieve her suffering. The services of Dr. Hoover, of Montpelier, Idaho, were procured, but nothing seemed to effect a cure. After several months, the pain subsided but the joints were enlarged, her hands and feet drawn out of shape. She never fully recovered from this dreadful illness. Subsequently she could not do the family washing, pick berries, comb her own hair, or even make bread and do the cooking as formerly.
So John renounced his daily ride, going only occasionally to the farm staying close at hand to be of help to "The Missus". The daughters-in-law were very helpful and the grand-daughters went often to her home to do the washing and weekly cleaning; also assisting during fruit season and at all times when needed. Especially were their services noticeable in her personal care, which were tenderly given; helping with her bath, manicures, arranging her hair, and in keeping her clothing clean and in repair. She still took great pride in her personal appearance and often quoted the motto, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness".
After moving to town Ellen was able to attend Church much oftener than while living on the farm. She also filled the duty of a Relief Society teacher; but the "Dizzy-feeling" in her head was always a regretted handicap to her. The noise and prattle of the grandchildren often annoyed her but she was appreciative of their visits. She usually had some little gift or delicacy saved for them when they dropped in to see her. She remembered the exact date of each birthday and invariably had a small present for each.
She taught the granddaughters many lessons in thrift and economy, giving them timely advice and counsel, which was always received with love and respect. She wasted no patience on "loiterers". If she required any duty of the girls she would usually say, "Now, look sharp!", which meant to let it done with dispatch, and in the best way possible. She was the only grandmother the children ever knew, as all the other grandmothers passed away before these children were born or were old enough to remember them. Through the years a bond of love drew them close with the kindest affection.
Her friends were numerous. Living as she did, so near the Post Office and small store, many dropped in to visit, and as long as her health would permit she invited them to share her refreshments. Almost always she had some little delicacy or gift to bestow upon her visitors. This was a God-given trait. She was very happy when sharing with others. Her thoughts went out to those in trouble and distress. She expressed regret and her compassionate feelings found outlet in sending forthwith some little nicety, a few cookies, or some article for use with a thought for relief. She was deemed a very charitable woman. She was often heard to say, "As long as I have a crust, you are welcome to share it."
Are you thinking that Ellen was perfect? Not so I she was very human, and as such, had many trials and temptations, and reacted to some of them perhaps as you or I would do. Many of the lessons of life were well learned. She overcame much. She blessed many lives. Possibly her greatest fault may be said to have been that in her grave humility she considered herself too unworthy, too imperfect, to hold within her hands some of the choicest blossoms (blessings) placed there, so she dropped them by "Life’s Highway" and by so doing deprived herself and others of their beauty and fragrance.
The last few months of her life she was far from well but was not seriously ill except for a few days. The cause was reported as General Debility followed by a stroke. She passed away peacefully October 29, 1903 at her home in Laketown, surrounded by her family and friends.
The funeral was held in the Laketown Ward Chapel, November 1st, Bishop Ira Nebeker in charge. In his eulogy he declared, "There lies before me the most charitable woman I have ever known."
Her last words to her granddaughters as they called to see her about a month previous to her death, before leaving to attend school for the winter were: "Always do right, then you will have no regrets. Whether I live long or short, always do right, I can say no fairer." Then she placed a fifty-cent piece in the hand of each.