SEVEN YEARS As BISHOP IN ST. JOHNS, ARIZONA
JUNE 1880, I received the following letter from President
page 67SEVEN YEARS As BISHOP IN ST. JOHNS
I have often wondered what might have come to us had we been permitted to stay with our business venture in Kanab. Certainly we made no mistake in securing a ranch in DeMotte Park in the Kaibab Forest on the north
rim of the Buckskin Mountains and the mercantile business later proved successful for Lawrence, who continued on with it.
In 1879, Lot Smith of Johnston Army fame brought Apostle Wilford Woodruff to Kanab. They came from northern Arizona where Brother Woodruff had been for some time doing missionary work. While in Kanab, Lot Smith requested me to furnish a team and go with them on their way to St. George. Ella and I have often thought that this brief acquaintance might have had something to do with my name coming up before the Church authorities to go to Arizona. Be that as it may, the call came and at the Kanab Stake Conference held at Glendale in June, I was set apart as bishop of the St. Johns Ward by Apostle Erastus Snow.
Ella and I realized that this call to Arizona meant a life's mission. We were thwarted in our financial ambitions for we had to sacrifice our good start in Kanab. Our faith was tested. We were happy with our relatives and friends. When the time came to go they said, "God bless you, you have been good neighbors to us." That cheered us, though we felt we were going into another world, strange and far away. We dreaded it all the more because Ella was frail and our baby less than three months old.
We left Kanab on my twenty-ninth birthday, September 7, 1880. We had one hundred dollars in cash and were prepared to travel in comparative comfort in two new wagons, one a trailer, drawn by a four-horse team. In one wagon we bad a comfortable bed for Ella and the baby, and a small heating stove by which baby Pearl had her regular morning bath. We took with us a few household effects, among them our clock and walnut secretary (bought at Dinwoody's in Salt Lake City a year or two before); Ella's set of Haviland china (bought by her before we were married); a cradle, a cedar churn, and a fair-sized flag of our country. The flag was later used on many occasions in St. Johns. We were well supplied with "cured beef" and "packed" butter, as well as potatoes, flour, and dried fruit. We drove our herd of fifty or sixty head of cattle, some of the cows furnishing us with fresh milk. On the rear end of our last wagon we had a hive of my prized Kanab bees. In our party were Ella's young sister Lucinda, who went with us to be company for Ella and help with the baby; Mrs. B. H. Wilhelm, whose family was in Arizona, and who was glad. to pay her way to Arizona by doing our cooking; Bert Riggs, Ella's brother-in-law; and a young chap named Jim Wilson. The two boys drove the cattle, and I drove the four-horse team.
Ella's brothers went as far as House Rock with us, helping us to get the cattle started; for cattle as well as men are reluctant to leave their old ranges. I have said that we traveled comfortably--which is true as far as we humans were concerned, but was not true of the poor horses and cattle. Often we made "dry" camps, and they suffered for water and green feed. We carried enough water in barrels to supply our needs for drinking and cook-
ing from one watering place to the next. The women had to get very thirsty before they would drink the brackish, muddy water which often had wrigglers in it. But we let the mud settle and strained out the wrigglers, boiled the water and it was not so bad.
We crossed the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry where a Brother Johnson ran the Ferry boat. The fee we paid him was the only money we spent on the trip. He was truly a man of God, and guarded well the lives of our people and of other travelers going out into that great wilderness lying between the Grand Canyon and the Upper Little Colorado in northeastern Arizona.
We spent a month on the road. It took a week for us to go from Kanab to the Ferry, a week from the Ferry to Tanner's Ranch near the present site of Cameron on the Little Colorado, another week from the Ranch to Sunset (near the present town of Winslow), and another week from Sunset to St. Johns.
At Sunset where the United Order was then being practiced, we met Apostle Erastus Snow and my dear friend, Francis M. Lyman; also Lot Smith who was then President of the Little Colorado Stake with headquarters at Sunset. Apostle Snow had recently been in St. Johns country and was not at all enthusiastic over the prospects of the new Mormon settlement there. He told me to make our home in the Mexican town, and said, too, that while he was in St. Johns he had advised that the town of Salem be abandoned and that the people move south a mile to a new townsite to be established on higher ground adjoining the Mexican town on the west.
We reached St. Johns October 6, 1880, having traveled four hundred miles through a wilderness inhabited
mostly by jackrabbits, prairie dogs, and roaming Indians. The Indians were friendly, due largely to the missionary work of Jacob Hamblin, Anthony W. Ivins, Ammon M. Tenney, Andrew S. Gibbons (Utah pioneer of 1847) and his sons, Ira Hatch, Thales Haskell, and others. Most of the country through which we passed was desolate beyond description. Its terrible remoteness was broken a few years later when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (now the Santa Fe) was built through northern Arizona.
FIRST HOME IN ST. JOHNS--1880
When we reached St. Johns we stayed a day or two with Brother Sextus Johnson's family in Salem, located about one mile northwest of the present site of the Mexican town. It belonged to the St. Johns Ward which included about fifty families, extending from Walnut Grove, twenty miles south of St. Johns, to the Meadows ten miles to the north; also a few families living in Cabello (near
page 71SEVEN YEARS As BISHOP IN ST. JOHNS
St. Johns is located on a series of low rolling hills of the prairie type, lying adjacent to the bottom lands of the Little Colorado. It has an elevation of 5,600 feet. Four miles east of the town are some small but valuable springs of pure water (McIntosh Springs), and beyond them lies an extensive stretch of blue and grey "bad lands"; to the west and south are bench lands partially covered with cedar groves which furnished fuel. The lowlands to the north are covered with greasewood. The soil is heavy with mineral carried down the river from the Salado Springs several miles above town. The lower slopes of the beautiful pine-clad White Mountains are about thirty miles south of St. Johns. The White Mountains belong to the Mogollon Range, which runs east and west and for hundreds of miles is densely timbered principally with ponderosa pine.
When we first came to St. Johns the hills and plateaus, due to several years of unusual rainfall, were waving fields of gramma grass--the best range grass known. The forests abounded in game. This was the country the missionaries and scouts found in 1877 and 1878 and reported to President Young. This was the country that Apostle Wilford Woodruff advised the Church to buy. As the years passed, it proved to be a land of extremes, with alternating periods of drouths and floods, undependable seasons, and devastating spring winds. Washes and gullies grew deeper and deeper from the forces of erosion.
On October 9th, three days after our arrival in St. Johns, President Jesse N. Smith of the Eastern Arizona Stake, and Bishop John Hunt of Snowflake, held a ward meeting in the greasewood bowery in Salem.* President Smith read our recommends from the bishop in Kanab, and we were received as members of the St. Johns Ward. He then read the letter from President Taylor calling me to preside as bishop over the St. Johns Ward. The people sustained me by unanimous vote.
A few days
later the following letter came to me and was read to the people in the
next Sunday meeting:
*About one month before our arrival in St. Johns there had been a complete organization of the Eastern Arizona Stake Auxiliary organizations. The minutes of a meeting held in Salem show that the following officers from Snowflake were in attendance: Bishop Hunt; Wilmirth East, Stake President of the Relief Society; Ida F. Hunt, Stake President of Y.L.M.I.A.; Smith D. Rogers, Stake President of Y.M.M.I.A.; and J. A. West, Stake Superintendent of Sunday Schools.
In reviewing the history of St. Johns we find that in 1879 the families living there had lived largely on barley sent to them from Sunset. It was ground by band in coffee mills and made into meal for bread. Those very first settlers met many trials. In the fall of the year 1879 Ammon M. Tenney, Indian missionary to this country, purchased land in and near the Mexican town of St. Johns. He did this with the approval of Apostle Woodruff, who thought it wise to establish a Mormon settlement there. The majority of the white settlers living there were bitterly anti-Mormon, some of them having taken part in driving the saints from their homes in Missouri. President Woodruff said, "We must hold St. Johns at all costs, or it will become a second Carthage to our people in Northern Arizona." The land was purchased from Solomon and Morris Barth, the following being an exact copy of the original bill of sale, which I have in my possession:
During our first few weeks in St. Johns we held many priesthood business meetings. The following extracts from the minutes of these meetings indicate our community activities. They are copied from the St. Johns Ward Record, Book A, pages 27-31:
October 9, 1880. A vote was taken as to whether the saints wished to move or not from Salem to higher ground west of San Juan. A vote was carried in the affirmative with two dissenting votes. A committee was appointed to lay out the townsite of St. Johns. The committee was composed of Bishop Udall, C. I. Kempe, and Andrew S. Gibbons....
The next morning after the meeting President Jesse N. Smith and I walked from Salem to San Juan and up the river looking over the country. When we were returning to Salem and were on the prairie land west of the Mexican town, I said, "President Smith, where would you suggest that we locate the corner of the public square?" He said, "Why not right here?" "Good enough," I said, It this cactus will be a landmark for me to remember." A day or two later when we began surveying the town plat we started from said cactus, using it as the southeast corner and ran our first lines around a tract of ground to be known as the public square measuring twenty-four rods each way.
Using the North Star as our fixed point we made rough allowances for the variation of the needle and chained the rest of the townsite, allowing six rods for the streets and sidewalks, and all blocks were the same
page 77SEVEN YEARS As BISHOP IN ST. JOHNS
. . . . The subject of local officers was then considered. William H. Gibbons was elected constable, and 0. C. Overson, Justice of the Peace. The Mexican people already had their Justice of the Peace.
October 25, 1880. According to appointment the men in the ward assembled on the new town plot to draw for choice and select their lots. A method for this had been decided upon, which we considered would be fair both to ourselves and to those who might come to St. Johns in the near future. The prices of the lots were set by vote to be: First class lots, $35; second class lots, $30; third class lots, $25.
[ Note: Idrew a third class lot, and gave a Brother Richardson my chance plus ten dollars for his better number. I chose the lot on which our present home stands. ]
The Mexican people saw us surveying the land adjacent to their town on the west; they saw new settlers coming in to swell our ranks. I doubt that they realized we bad bought this land with the view of making homes there. I am sure they did not realize that we had no intention of molesting them; rather they looked upon us as enemies, who had come to encroach upon their old "San Juan" settled by them in 1873. The Mexicans resented us and we did not blame them very much. Their "squatters' rights" bad not been properly respected by those who sold the land to our people.
A few days after Brother Christopher I. Kempe and I began surveying our townsite, the following communication was handed to me by Don Lorenzo Hubbell. It
Marcus Bacapage 79
following day I sent this reply to the above protest:
In addition to this difficulty with the Mexican people, the final payment to Barth Brothers was soon due. Brother Ammon Tenney, acting under instructions from Church authorities, had already paid some tithing cattle on the purchase debt. He had also turned in some mules and wagons, for which he personally had received credit on the town account. Our problem was how to finish paying
the debt. We had no idea of "giving up the fort" but we did not know how to hold it. I went to Snowflake to confer with President Jesse N. Smith. He told me frankly that he had had nothing to do with the purchase and would accept no responsibility in meeting the debt. He consented to my going to Salt Lake City to lay the matter before President John Taylor.
Upon returning to St. Johns from Snowflake I called the brethren together and reported President Smith's advice. It was decided by unanimous vote that I make this trip; that Elder Andrew S. Gibbons (Utah pioneer of 1847) and Brother James Ramsey go with me. Each of us was to receive two dollars a day for our time and expenses.
Before leaving St. Johns we organized our Ward Teachers. With the approval of the priesthood I hastily drew up and had signed by Barth Brothers a new purchase agreement--or more truly speaking, a "Quit Claim Deed." This was to substitute for the bill of sale signed the year before by Ammon Tenney and Barth Brothers. We feared the original contract would not be considered valid by the courts, as there were no specified boundaries given to the land purchased, no explanation made as to "squatters' rights" or water rights involved. As we had no lawyer to advise us we did our best to make the document explicit as to the land and water purchased. Barth Brothers signed it and a few years later this agreement, in Ella's handwriting, was recorded in Apache County Records. (See Deed Book No. 1, page 78.)
After arranging with our good neighbors to look after Ella and baby Pearl, I reluctantly started back to Utah (with Brothers Gibbons and Ramsey) on November 2nd, six weeks after our arrival in St. Johns. We traveled by
wagon team and had several extra saddle horses. When we reached Lee's Ferry, Brother Gibbons took the team and wagon to Glendale in southern Utah. Jim and I struck out horseback over an old Indian trail from the river to the Pink Cliffs--a very steep trail for five miles, thence to Pahreah and to Upper Kanab and Panguitch, where I was entertained by President Jesse W. Crosby. (A lifelong friendship developed from this meeting.) It was bitter cold and the snow was deep. The little food we carried was soon frozen solid and we ate a few meals with ranchers. Several nights we slept in our saddle blankets. Jim stayed iii the vicinity of Panguitch. I went on to Beaver where I left my horse with Urban Stewart (Ella's uncle) and took the stage on to Salt Lake City.
President John Taylor and his associates received me kindly. Their spirit in understanding our difficulties was compensation for the hard trip. I realized then that the Lord chooses good and great men to be His leaders. After holding a council meeting President Taylor requested the presiding bishop, Edward Hunter, to give me an order for 450 cows from the Canaan herd of Church cattle running on the range near Pipe Springs, Arizona, just south of Kanab. I recall Bishop Hunter's greeting: "David K. Udall--Udall. I've heard of you. You will do--you will do." I have often hoped he was right.
Brother Gibbons, James Ramsey and I met at Pipe Springs. The local cowboys helped us gather our 450 cows and drive them to the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry. It was frozen over--which was a most unusual thing--and we crossed safely on the ice. Had it not been for that we would have had to force the cattle to swim the river. From
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