This was my first and only experience in the role of cowboy. For the first hundred miles we practically turned the cattle loose, keeping to the rear of the herd and outside of their tracks, for we were hemmed in by mountains on the east and the Grand Canyon on the west, and the cattle naturally followed the passes ahead of us. By the time we came to the open country they were tenderfooted and weary--for food and water had been scarce--and we managed to keep them together without great difficulty. Brother Gibbons drove the wagon, while Jim and I and a boy going to Prescott drove the cattle. Before the boy left us for Prescott I had an opportunity to send a letter to our people in St. Johns, asking that someone be sent to help us finish the journey. William H. Gibbons, son of Andrew S. Gibbons, came. It was our first meeting, and I liked him. He was about my age, a man of striking personality, who was very efficient in his task.
We reached St. Johns the middle of February 1881. It had been a strenuous winter's work, but in the main successful for we had lost very few cattle. We allowed a little time for the herd to pick up, and then turned it over to Barth Brothers in complete payment of the purchase debt. Delivery was made at the "Windmill" or G Bar Ranch on the Zuni River.
However, our "purchase" troubles were not so soon nor so easily ended. The titles to the land were not clear, as very little if any of the land was patented, and this resulted in contention and litigation. After some years the court adjusted the land matters, and appointed an arbitration committee to settle the water rights. We decided
it was fair to give the Mexican people one-third of the St. Johns' water rights in the Little Colorado River. This agreement was accepted by the courts. Later the Mexicans lost most of their one-third interest through failure to use the water, and it came back to the Mormon people.
There was still another phase to the "purchase" problem. The Church did not buy the land to give to our people. It advanced the payment as a loan and expected the settlers gradually to pay the debt. But droughts and persecutions came, and it took many years to meet the obligation. Many settlers stayed only a short time and then moved elsewhere, turning the land back to the ward. The land proved to be poor. There was much dissatisfaction and it was a difficult situation from many angles. Finally there were compromises and concessions, and the St. Johns' purchase accounts were settled, thus closing that particular chapter in our history.
The minutes in the Ward Record show that during our first two years in St. Johns we had long and frequent priesthood meetings. The following extracts are taken from the Ward Record, Book A:
December 19, 1880. It was decided to fix tip and rent from Brother C. I. Kempe a house in the Mexican town to be used for meeting and school purposes. A committee was appointed to take the matter in charge....
February 13, 1881. Bishop Udall, who has recently returned from his trip to Utah, said no doubt the brethren would remember that some time ago a committee was appointed to took after land matters for the colonists, The committee reported and recommended that Bishop Udall, with members of their committee, be appointed to survey and divide the field lands as they should deem best.... Ova C. Oversell was sustained to superintend laying off the land, M. H. Peterson and
February 22. Brother Overson reported on the surveying done in the field. They bad found five government corners, and then in conforming to them bad laid off fifty-two five-acre plots and fourteen forty-acre plots. Bishop Udall announced that OD Thursday morning the committee would be ready to distribute the land to those who wished to buy. He desired that justice be meted out to those present and to colonizers yet to come. It was decided that drawing for choice would be most fair.*
February 24. The brethren assembled in the evening to consider the subject of taking over a store from John W. Young, Ammon Tenney and others, and fully organizing it into a cooperative store.
[Note: A letter from John W. Young suggested that this be done and that the bishop be made superintendent.]
A committee composed of the bishop, Ole Jensen and James Richey was appointed to draft a constitution and bylaws, and report later. t
In the fall of 1881, I was sent by our store and a similar. one in Holbrook to St. Louis to buy merchandise. I carried with me between six and seven thousand dollars in my valise, as we had no bank or banking connections.
February 27. A business meeting was held by the brethren of the ward. William H. Gibbons was elected water master. Brother Ralph Ramsey (carver of the eagle on Eagle Gate in Salt Lake City) was chosen and sustained to fill the position of sexton of St. Johns. The subject of fencing the field was considered and a committee appointed to ascertain how much fencing would be required.
. . . The subject of designating a lot to be used for ward tithing purposes
was discussed. The bishop
*The drawing took place according to appointment.
tThe result was the founding of A.C.M.I.---Arizona Co-operative Mercantile Institution--fashioned somewhat after the Z.C.M.I. at Church headquarters.
[ Note: Soon after this, by permission from the presiding bishop, we started building a two-story brick Tithing Office which was completed within a few years and is still used by the ward. It was built by "tithing labor" and trafficking around with "tithing perishables"].
.... It was decided to have and select a City Ditch Committee.
March 20. The brethren unanimously decided that the rate of wages for labor on water ditches should be one dollar and fifty cents per day for eight hours, that the same amount be allowed for the use of a team per day, and that the water master be given discretionary power in setting the wages of the boys,
March 24. The best way to build the field fence was considered. After discussion it was decided to make the fence on a joint enclosure plan, there being one dissenting voice. . . . A committee was appointed to superintend the fencing of the field.... It was decided that the sidewalks on either side of the streets in town be twelve feet wide.
May 28, 1881, . . . It was unanimously decided that the bishop act as one of a group of three, two to be chosen by him, to locate an adobe yard and a sand lot to be used by the public for building purposes.
June 5. It was decided by unanimous vote that the block which bad been selected as a cemetery be donated for that purpose. Brother Miles P. Romney was authorized to estimate the cost of building a picket fence around said lot, and requested to report back later.... It was decided that we have the Probate judge file upon our townsite, and Bishop Udall, Miles P. Romney and J. H. Watkins were appointed to attend to the matter.... It was decided by unanimous vote that we sustain the water master and the bishop in protecting our water rights--sustain them with our faith and prayers and our means.
September 5. Bishop Udall was elected chairman of a town meeting which bad been called for the purpose of arranging to protect ourselves against the Apache Indians. It was decided to organize a company of "minute men" to go out on short notice if needed. Twenty men were chosen with B. H. Wilhelm as captain and the military company is to be known as the "United Forces of St. Johns." The meeting was attended by all factions of the town and was approved unanimously
September 18. Brother Ralph Ramsey reported in behalf of the Meeting House Committee. They bad prepared two plans for the brethren to consider. It was decided by unanimous vote that we build our meeting house of logs and on the lines of the letter "T". It was decided that the bishop appoint a committee of three to serve as a building committee. Brother Miles P. Romney was Sustained as Ward Architect.
September 28. Bishop Udall stated that the plan for our meeting house had been Submitted to and approved by Apostle Erastus Snow.*
January 1, 1882. . . . Bishop Udall laid before the meeting a petition to have the school district of St. Johns divided.*'
8. It was decided that we admit only L.D.S. Church members to our dances
and that Sanford Bingham act as general doorkeeper with Ole Jensen as assistant.*²
*By December 29th of that same year our meeting house was finished. This speedy accomplishment was made possible through Brother William H. Sherwood and me buying a short time before a number of hewn logs with which to build the house. We donated part of them and charged a nominal price for the others. In 1887 the hall was made larger by increasing the stage which made the top of the "T".
*1 The county board of supervisors--all non-Mormons--granted our petition and soon thereafter revoked their action. For nearly twenty years all the children in the town attended the same school, and it was a trial to our people. But perhaps in the long run it was a blessing, because it soon raised the living standards of the Mexican people. The "White School House" on the hill, which we built in the eighties, was an outstanding landmark in the country, and all of the people developed a certain affection for it.
March 6. The idea of building a grist mill was advanced by Bishop D. K. Udall. It was decided to build and operate one on the cooperative plan. (This was accomplished, but after ten or fifteen years it ceased to operate for want of grain to grind. Drought, mineral water, and soil erosion ruined the
UNIT OF ASSEMBLY HALL WHERE CHURCH SERVICES
north of St. Johns.) .... Brother Don C. Babbitt reported that Mr. Franklin
had offered his printing press for sale at the price of $625. Bishop Udall
spoke in favor of our buying the press and publishing the paper. It was
advised that a company be organized. This plan was sustained and a subscription
fund of eighty dollars was made
*2. We had to draw the line in order to control our dances, for in accordance with true western custom, our neighbors and the strangers in our midst looked upon the dances as public affairs, and came in numbers, bringing with them their guns and their whiskey. They were not desirable associates for our wives and daughters. It took tact and strength of character to handle the situation. Our dance committee and bishopric were always "on the job," and we succeeded shortly in establishing the thought that our dances were strictly invitational. It added somewhat to the anti-Mormon feeling for a time, and then all decent men came to respect our plan.
REMINISCENSES OF OUR FIRST YEARS IN ST. JOHNS
In looking back over our first years in St. Johns I marvel at the permanency of the work we did, at the magnitude and scope of our accomplishments. Great credit is due that small, purse-poor group of pioneers. The mainspring back of our efforts was faith, the faith our parents had in their calling to "make the desert blossom as the rose." Combined with this faith were industry and cooperation. In all our priesthood business meetings, in all our Sabbath services, and in our homes we prayed for divine guidance and kept in mind President Taylor's wish that as nearly as practical we should carry out the spirit of the "United Order" of living. We did not attempt to own property in common, but we did work cooperatively, coming to conclusions about town and ward matters by "common consent." Of course, the sisters did not take part in our priesthood meetings where community problems were considered, but they sustained and encouraged us and adapted themselves uncomplainingly to life in rude shanties or in Mexican houses whose dirt roofs often leaked "mud" when rains were violent. I have always felt to say, "God bless our pioneer sisters."
Summarizing briefly we find that within two or three years after the St. Johns Ward was organized we had, through a Church loan, met the "purchase" debt; we had surveyed and established our new townsite on which many small homes had been built; we had surveyed and fenced a field of 820 acres and divided it into plots and provided water ditches for irrigating the land from the Little Colorado. We had fenced a cemetery lot and had provided ourselves with sand and gravel pits and an adobe yard;
we had perfected and for some years maintained a military organization as a precaution against Apache Indian troubles; we had established a school and a store known as the Arizona Cooperative Mercantile Institution; we had built a sawmill and a gristmill and had erected the Assembly Hall used as a ward meeting house and as a schoolhouse and had begun the erection of a two-story brick tithing office. During those seven years the saints laid the foundation of St. Johns.
We were often homesick for Utah's lovely valleys. Times were hard and we lived in a primitive way, but we were not longfaced or sad about it for we found many blessings to appreciate and we were young and full of zeal, full of fun, too. There was fine talent in our community. Sister Henry Knowles was our first organist and a splendid one; she later was succeeded by Sister Anna L. Anderson, who became a musical power in our midst. Brother and Sister Freeman and Brother and Sister Farr from Ogden had good voices and read and understood music. Brother August Mineer was a fine violinist, his father before him having played in the Royal Orchestra in Denmark; Brother Holgate played the piccolo and was our choir leader for many years. We had outstanding dramatic talent--Miles P. Romney, the Richey girls and boys, Maud Crosby, Marinus Christensen, Sister Freeman and others presented such plays as "Ingomar" and "Pizarro" and "The Confederate Spy." The little town of St. Johns became known in Arizona as a dramatic center. We always celebrated the Fourth of July, and Pioneer Day on the 24th, just as we had back home in Utah. May Days were observed in true English fashion with a queen and a May
My dear Ella was an unusually good cook and housekeeper and I was proud of her ability to prepare tasty meals with so little variety of food from which to choose. When Church authorities and other visitors came to see us and she set the table with her lovely china, I felt our simple meals were "fit for a King." Our home and our town were outstanding in hospitality so we were often told. Good housekeeping was a hobby with many of our womenfolk and what a blessing it was, for without clean, tidy homes a civilized way of life could not have survived the trying days of pioneering.
The Church bell called us to our meetings. It also gave the signal at seven every morning during the summer and fall to take the cows to one corner of the public square from which point Brother George Anderson drove them out to the hills for the day and brought them back at night with udders full of milk for the rising generation. Woe befell the youngsters who failed to get their cows to the herd on time! On the public square also during each summer our brass band held its practice periods once or twice a week. On the public square the children played their games, the ones we had played in Utah and with "Pelota" and a few other Spanish games added to them. judge George H. Crosby, Jr., recently told of the greeting that was usual between the boys: Said the Mormons to the Mexicans, "Hello, chili." Said the Mexicans to the Mormons, "Hello, gravy." Our Assembly Hall stood on the public square. It was built in 1881 and served us well until 1900 when the Academy Building was completed. Many years later it was razed and the logs were sold to
R. H. Sainsbury. What tales it could have told of ward meetings, funerals, quarterly conference visits of apostles and prophets, who built up our courage and taught us the everlasting principles of truth; of school and town meetings, political rallies and theatrical productions. What
WEDDING PICTURE OF JOSEPH AND EMMA UDALL
tales of the merry dance and love-making among our young people; and it must have known by heart the words of timid missionary boys in their farewell speeches. So much about our dear old Assembly Hall.
With great pleasure we welcomed newcomers who were sent to our colony. How well I remember my joy and that of my family when in 1884 my brother Joseph and
Memories crowd into my mind in rapid succession as I think of those early days of St. Johns. I recall that one day (1883) the "outsiders" decided to "jump" one of our vacant city lots. They tore down the "Mormon fence" around it, and then attempted to move a small lumber house onto the premises. In no time Mormons, Mexicans, Jews, and "Gentiles" assembled on the spot and feelings ran riot. Guns were flourished in the air by the outsiders, and it was a miracle that no lives were lost. In this regard I have had reason to bless my friend, Andrew V. Gibbons, brother to William. I had become exasperated and was ready to do something desperate to defend our rights. I turned to go across the street to get my gun, when Andrew said, with a detaining hand on my shoulder, "Bishop, you must keep cool. Much depends on you today." I paused and knew he was right and then called out in a loud voice, "Men, let us all go home." The Mormons walked away and soon the crowd dispersed. The aggressors in this trouble gave up the idea of taking possession of the lot by 11 jumping" it. Following the lot-jumping episode we felt such concern for our safety that we arranged to run a flag to the comb of the roof of the Co-op Store as a signal for the brethren to come home from the fields should occasion require it.
On my first election day in St. Johns, probably 1882, I went to the polls to cast my vote. judge McCarty refused me a ballot, saying: "We have decided that no polygamist should vote today." There was no redress; I turned and walked away.
Another incident is significant of the lawless spirit of some of our neighbors. One night in the old courthouse, which was very near our first home in St. Johns, a man was hung without having had a trial before judge or jury. The rougher element of the cowmen spoke of it as a private "necktie" party and had the audacity to invite me to be present.
A tragic sorrow came to us in the summer of 1882 in the death of father Nathaniel Tenney. He was shot down in cold blood on the main street of St. Johns while serving as a peacemaker in attempting to settle a quarrel between some cowboys and the Mexicans. All of the Tenney family spoke Spanish and were friends to the Mexican people, who grieved with us over this sad affair.
A group of our bitterest enemies were known as the "St. Johns Ring." In every way possible they stirred up trouble for our people. After four or five years the power of this ring of men was broken. We believed it was in answer to our faith and prayers.
But there came a time when the conduct of some of the leaders of the old settlers towards the Mormons became intolerable. Something had to be done. The trying situation was discussed extensively at a priesthood meeting held at St. Johns, May 16, 1884. At this priesthood meeting I (Jesse N. Smith, President of the Stake) said we must intercede with the Heavens and thus fight our battles. We should cultivate a spirit of forbearance and not fight with carnal weapons. The people here should go ahead minding their own business and not give way to a spirit of fear. F. M. Lyman said those
newly called here will help those already here. We expect this difficulty here to he settled by the steady growth of our people. The better elements will predominate. We will bold a large country by righteousness. B. Young, Jr., said we must let the Lord fight our battles. When we go before the Lord properly, our enemies melt away. We must trust the Lord implicitly and keep our tempers. Recommended that we spend the coming Sunday in fasting and prayer. The people here have the good feelings and support of all the stakes. I seconded Brother Young's suggestion about devoting the coming Sabbath to fasting and prayer, and plead our cause with the Heavens.
On Saturday, the 17th, a special conference was held at St. Johns. At this conference, President Smith "gave notice that tomorrow would be observed as a day of fasting and prayer before the Lord and asked the saints to plead their cause before the Lord in relation to our enemies in this land."
President Smith's account of what was done at the special fast and prayer meeting gives evidence of the true Christian forbearance of the saints and their abiding faith that God could and would deliver them from the intolerable mistreatment by their foes:
After meeting, the leading brethren in the priesthood with Apostles Young and Lyman met, still fasting, at Bishop D. K. Udall's home where a solemn prayer meeting was held. We named the Dames of a number of the more prominent of our enemies in this county before the Lord, praying that if it were possible, they might repent of their wickedness against us and do so no more, but that if they would not repent He would deprive them of their power to further injure us. Each one present prayed in turn, embodying the above in connection with the sentiments more frequently expressed in prayers.
It is a matter of history that the prayers of these devout and faithful men prevailed with an overruling prov-
idence. Within two years after the special fast, and the solemn prayer meeting, five of the six ringleaders, one by one, met with violent deaths, and none of them at the hands of their Mormon neighbors. The sixth man had a change of heart and became a true friend to the Mormon people. He was none other than Don Lorenzo Hubbell.
Before closing this chapter, would that I might pay adequate tribute to my counselors for their loyalty and devotion to me and to the Lord. Brother Moses Thatcher once said, "Our Church government is a theocratic, patriarchal, democratic, republican form of government." I think lie is right. Throughout our ministry we trusted in God and fathered our flock and worked as a unit in guiding the activities of our very democratic ward. Practically every man held the priesthood and had a voice in matters both temporal and spiritual. They sustained the bishopric and unity existed. My first counselors were James Richey and William H. Gibbons. Brother Richey served only a few months when he was called to be a patriarch and then I chose Elijah N. Freeman as my second counselor. He was the son of Elder Freeman of the Mormon Battalion. He was a wise and good counselor and has been my close, dear friend for more than fifty years.
William H. Gibbons was a zealous, fearless man and understood our Mexican neighbors better than anyone else in our community for he knew their habits and spoke their language fluently. He was town constable and usually carried a six-shooter in his hip pocket, though he never had to use it. He told me years after the bitter anti-Mormon spirit died out in our country that he had made a practice in the early days of standing in the shadow
of a certain place after we parted on our way home from our many night meetings and of watching me go safely into the house before he went home. He did this because I was the official target for blame from our enemies and he feared harm might come to me. Later when I became the President of the St. Johns Stake I chose Elijah and William to be my counselors. That choice was my tribute to them as my counselors in the bishopric.
as the bishop of the ward was Elder Willard Farr, half-brother of Elijah
N. Freeman. He was one of our first schoolteachers in the town. He has
ever been one of God's noble men. After he became the bishop he gave me
the following receipt:
During the seven years I served as bishop in the St. Johns Ward, I can say truthfully and with gratitude that I enjoyed my labors and the spirit of my calling.
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