Elias Hicks Blackburn
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Elias Hicks Blackburn
Articles published in the Provo Sunday Herald 1949-1950
Sunday Herald, 1949, Centennial Corner
Provo’s First Bishop Entered Utah Valley 100 Years Ago
Editor’s Note: The Daily Herald herewith presents the first of a series of articles which it feels will be among the most interesting and revealing ever written on Provo’s early history. They are written by William H. Callahan who has offered them to The Herald from priceless records of the diary of Elias Hicks Blackburn, Provo’s first Mormon bishop in the days when that position was the most important in the community. The diary, lo[n]g withheld from publication, has only recently been released for this purpose. The Herald is deeply indebted to Mr. Callahan for making this interesting information of Provo’s beginning available to its readers.
It will be 100 years on Sept. 26 (tomorrow) since the man who was to be the first Bishop of Provo, with his wife, Sarah, and their infant son, Elias Platt, crossed Provo river and saw for the first time the beginnings of our lovely Provo—“where,” as he says in his own journal, “no city or house greeted us.” This man was Elias Hicks Blackburn and his wife was Sarah Jane Goff. His mother and brother, Jehu, had preceded them to Provo.
Elias Hicks Blackburn played an important part in the development of Provo and the state of Utah. Just how important, you dear reader, shall be the judge for it will be our purpose in these articles to quote copiously from the journal Elias Hicks Blackburn which has only been available to the public within the last 30 days through the courtesy and cooperation of his son, Joseph C. Blackburn of Salt Lake City who is his 37th child, and the Huntington Library of San Marino, Calif., and other members of the Blackburn family.
Much of the doing and many of the incidents of those soul stirring times of Johnson’s Army, the Indian wars, the handcart company, Fort Lemhi, the move south, and other incidents will be highlighted with fresh new material never before printed.
Due to the intimate relationship between Elias Hicks Blackburn and Brigham Young, new light is thrown on that great pioneer leader. The story told in the journal of Elias Hicks Blackburn is not a story of fiction or philosophy but one of doing much with little, with fear and stark necessity as the spear in the rear and faith in their new found religion as their guiding star.
Elias Hicks Blackburn was born Sept. 11 , 1827, in Bedford county, Pa., a son of Thomas B. and Elizabeth Bone, the youngest of nine children. His father died when he was one year of age. When he was six years old his mother’s family moved to the state of Ohio and when he was 11 they moved to Illinois.
In 1841 he says, “I heard the gospel and believed it.” In the spring of 1845 he went by steamer to Nauvoo, and in April of that year was baptized by William Laney and confirmed at the water’s edge. He was then 18. From this time until March, 1846, he was engaged in working on the Nauvoo temple and in preparing to join the camp of saints in their move westward.
On May 1, 1846, he and his mother and brothers, Jehu and Anthony, crossed the Mississippi river following the church leaders who had crossed over the river a month earlier. The Blackburns overtook Brigham Young and the 12 at Mount Pisga where they camped for a few weeks during which time they planted 200 acres of “sod” corn which they left for the poor and journeyed on to the Missouri river.
At this place Elias Hicks Blackburn writes, “President Young called on me to help make a flat boat, which I did and when it was made President Young called on me to be one of a set company to ferry over the saints. I stayed on the boat as one of the hands some five weeks which labor was very hard.” This work was all gratis. He stood guard during the councils of the church leaders at Council Bluff.
On to the West
When the decision was made not to move on that year, he went with his family to Council Point where they built a house and cut hay for their use during the coming winter. In the spring of 1848 he was married to Sarah Jane Goff “March 3rd.” That same spring he drove team for the U. S. government in order to outfit for the trek to the Salt Lake valley to be made the following spring. “In April, 1849,” he says, “I started with my wife in William Hyde’s company for the great Salt Lake valley.” On July 16, 1849, on the Platt river, his first child, who was named Elias Platt, was born. That same month, he said, “I have the cholera, a most terrible disease. Came very near taking me off. Was doctored by Livingston and Kincaid, merchants.” (These men were non-Mormons). He arrived without further incident in great Salt Lake on Sept. 22, 1849, and moved on immediately to Provo where he arrived Sept. 26, 1849. “Where no city or house greeted us.”
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Sunday Herald,, Centennial Corner
Provo’s First LDS Bishop Was Ordained At 23 Years Of Age By President Brigham Young.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles prepared by William M. Callahan from the diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first LDS bishop of pioneer Provo.
Correction: Elias H. Blackburn was born September 17, 1827, and not September 11, 1827 as stated in last Sunday’s installment.
Elias M. Blackburn writes that the winter of 1849-50 was “a very hard winter. Much trouble with Indians.”
February, 1850, “I was very sick with the measles. We had a battle with the Indians in this month. Brother Joseph Higbee got killed by the Indians—also a number of Brethren got wounded. Brother Grant and others led the army. The Indians finally decamped and once more peace was made after much trouble by the Indians. Killed about 80 head of our horses and cattle.” (According to J. M. Jensen the battle was fought on February 8th and 9th. Joseph Higbee killed and 18 men wounded.)
April, 1850. “This year I spent in fencing and farming. Raised some wheat. My health being poor.”
We now skipped a period of ten months.
Saved From Death
February, 1851. “I was taken very sick and got nigh unto death but by the administration of the laying on of hands I was raised from near death’s door. I had a manifestation from the spirit that I should live—also, my mother had the same testimony. The voice spoke to her while she was praying that I would live.”
March 20, 1851. “This day President Young, H. C. Kimball, and others came to Provo and organized the place or ward. I was chosen and ordained Bishop by President Young, and then commenced to build a few log cabins after we had laid out and surveyed the townsite, the country being wild, untried, and plenty of black crickets to devour our grain. I lost all my grain this year by the crickets. Hard times for us. Wheat worth $5.00 per bushel. Some trouble with the Indians this year.”
Note: At the time Elias H. Blackburn was ordained Bishop of Provo he was twenty-three yeas of age. From knowing him in later years I imagine he was a tall, sinewy man of black hair, black eyes, and stern demeanor.
April 2, 1852. “I had Sister Nancy F. (Fipps) Lane sealed to me (married in Salt Lake City) daughter of Bishop Lane of Illinois.”
May, 1852. “President Young counseled me to build a tithing store which I immediately commenced, and working hard to build up the town, and doing all in my power to magnify my calling as Bishop with much opposition.” It appears that Elias H. Blackburn was the only Bishop presiding in Provo from March 20, 1851 to July 17, 1852 at which time Utah State was organized with George A. Smith as President. Later Dominicus Carter and Isaac Higbee were selected as his counselors. As further evidence that he was Bishop prior to July, 1852 note the following.
There was some difficulty and dissatisfaction because some of the families residing in the Provo area were not following President Young’s counsel to live in the Fort. Those living on the townsite petitioned Brigham Young for help on May 19, 1852, and at that time mentioned Bishop Blackburn as the only single church authority living on the townsite. There seems to be some question as to the organization of the wards and not all authorities agree. Elias H. Blackburn makes the following contribution “July, 1852. President Young and company came. Held conferences—ordained Bishop J. O. Duke for the First Ward. James Bird for the Second, I for the Third, and Wm. Fausett for the Fourth Ward.
Note: Some authorities claim there were five wards with William Madison Wall as Bishop of the Fourth and Wm. Fausett of the Fifth. If there was a Fifth ward organized at that time, it apparently included those living north and outside the limits of Provo city. “I was appointed to receive the tithing of all the four wards called as Presiding Bishop of county. (It seems that Bishop Blackburn used the name county and stake interchangeably). George A. Smith the Apostle was appointed to preside in Utah county with headquarters at Provo city. I had many seasons of rejoising with him. I took him many times to the various wards in the county, we going on missions to the various wards in the county, he as president of the stake, I as bishop of the stake. This month I moved to my new house north of the public square. Very busy receiving and delivering butter, eggs, etc. to general tithing office in city (Salt Lake). All my time being spent in this way and in the office of Bishop.
Note: The Home mentioned stood across the street north of Pioneer Park where the Provo Foundry stood.
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Sunday Herald, Centennial Corner, October 10, 1949
Early Bishop Relates Start Of Indian War
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles written from the diary of Elias Blackburn, first Mormon Bishop of pioneer Provo.)
November, 1852: “I employed J. W. Armstrong as my tithing clerk. I drove to the general tithing office with a load of produce tithing. Spent all this winter doing the office of bishop: ordaining, setting apart, etc., and administering goods to the poor.”
(Note: Presiding bishop of the stake seems to be obsolete at the present time unless it is in some degree being revived in the church welfare plan.)
April 4, 1853: “I started to conference at City with a load of tithing produce. Stopped with President George A. Smith.”
April 6, 1853: “The cornerstone of the temple in Salt Lake City was laid by President Young, Kimball, and others. A glorious time. Much of the spirit of the Lord poured out upon us. I was there.”
April 23, 1853: “I started with President Young and company south. Company called a meeting at Palmyra, now Spanish Fork. Told the people to fort up. President Young told the saints if they did not fort up God would not allow them to stay on the land. No heed was paid to the counsel so a few months proved that he, President Young, spoke as moved upon by the power of God for Indian Walker made war upon us. The saints moved away from Palmyra. We traveled to Sanpete. Much of the spirit poured out in warning the people but very little heed was paid to the counsel. From Springtown we went to Manti. I preached to the people followed by Young and Kimball.”
May 28, 1853: “President Young had a manifestation to return and not go on south which he obeyed and returned home. Inspired to return, I went to Palmyra and settled a difficulty with Zebacu Coltren and wife. A good time. Took a load of tithing to the General Tithing Office.
Note: Apparently due to what President Young heard and saw on this trip, he issued a proclamation as governor of the territory to the people to be on guard against raids by the Mexicans and Indians. The Walker War developed, it appears, because Brigham Young as governor attempted to put a stop to slave traffic in Indian children in Utah in compliance with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Indian War Starts
July 18, 1853: “This day war broke out with the Indians. A man by the name of James Ivie Jr. treated them harshly and made them mad, shot at them. They retaliated—then followed times terrible to describe. The Indians stole 200 head of cattle from Father Allred’s ward in Sanpete. He had previously been counseled by President Young to move to Manti, but did not. I took the express (news of the event) to Governor Young about the stealing of the cattle. He asked me if I did remember the counsel given, which of course I did. All this war has come about through disobedience to counsel (this has been proven).
Note: The first open violence occurred July 18th when Alexander Keel was killed while standing guard in Payson, by a band of Indians led by Arapeen (otherwise spelled Arrapene), a brother to Chief Walker. May we add at this point that considerable feeling developed over the reluctance of the people to move together to protect themselves which act was called “to fort up.” This behavior and disobedience on the part of the saints and the dire results to them, evoked these ironic and stinging words from President George A. Smith in a sermon delivered October 7th: “I went to every settlement and attempted to encourage them (the saints) to fort up, but failed to accomplish anything toward getting them to obey the words of the Lord in this matter.”)
“Sometime in the summer, however, a man known in these mountains by the name of Walker found that the people cared nothing about God nor the instructions of Brother Brigham and Brother George A. Smith so he said: “I wonder if you will mind me?” and in less than one solitary week he had more than 300 families on the move . . .” If your object is to make as much earthly gain as possible why don’t you go where you can get the most of it. This business of having one hand in the golden honey pots of heaven and the other in the dark regions of hell undertaking to serve both God and Mammon at once will not answer.” “I do further know . . . that if the counsel of President Young had been observed, not one of the saints would have lost their lives by an Indian.”
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Sunday Herald, Centennial Corner,
Pioneers Reluctant to Sell Cattle for Peace Token, But Brigham Convinces Them.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series prepared by William H. Callahan from the pioneer diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo. It reveals, among its other interesting data, how President Brigham Young, the great Mormon leader, “convinced” Provoans they should sell him some cattle to offer as peace tokens to the hostile Indians.
August 3, 1853: “I started to Salt Lake City with the surplus cattle to the island in Salt Lake to keep them from the Indians.” He adds in parenthesis: “But few cattle returned.”
Note: According to some authorities the great grasshopper plague of 1854 devoured the grass and forage on the island and many cattle perished.
August 23, 1853: “I took President George Smith to Salt Lake City. Traveled all night in continual fear of the Indians. Guns in hand!” At this time, so Elias H. Blackburn states, “P. W. Conover, who was commanding officer was relieved of his command and W. M. Wall appointed, and that the whole country was much wrought up about the Indians.”
August 25, 1853: “I left Salt Lake City with President Smith with the ammunition for Provo. Arrived at 3 p.m. President Smith sick. Found all well. Grain ripe.”
August 26, 1853: “President Smith held meeting. All agreed to sustain Captail Wall as military Commander of Provo.”
August 27, 1853: “I was building corrals for public’s cattle.”
September 2, 1853: “I drove to Salt Lake City on business for the army. Held council with the authorities.”
September 5, 1853: “George A. Smith and myself rode to Payson. Spoke to the people. Found them feeling well. Returned on the 7th. Doing business in Provo City among the wards. Advising the saints to take care of the harvest which is plentiful. Much trouble with the Indians. Many of our Bretheren wounded. My time at home managing affairs of the office and sending men to the army with supplies, etc. Our men are following the Indians in the mountains. A very troublesome time.”
October 2, 1853: “I drove to Springville and settled a difficulty with Peter Boyce and his wife Margaret.”
October 5, 1853: “I drove to conference at Salt Lake City. President Young preached that we should feed and preach to the Indians, etc. etc. A glorious time at conference. Returned home on the 11th. Found all well. All the rest of this month I was in tithing office and in the wards doing business for the saints, and blessing the people.”
We now skip a few routine entries to December 2, 1853: ‘This day the Indians stole 8 head of our cattle. Drove them up Provo Canyon. I with Captain Conover pursued them but found none. Returned same day—a very hard days ride horseback.”
December 15, 1853: “Drove to Salt Lake City with a load of tithing. Very busy in office until January, 1854, settling with the Brethren. Time all occupied.”
January 6, 1854: “I drove 12 head of tithing cattle to Bishop E. Hunter, Salt Lake City, belonging to the P. E. Fund. (Perpetual Emigrating Fund)”
January 19, 1854: “The last three days have been the coldest that I have seen n the mountains. Our boys that were born last June, Orson and George, are growing finaly and all seems prospering at home.” (It seems Elias H. Blackburn was too busy in June to mention the arrival of the boys).
June 20, 1854: “Assisting the poor in the ward with provisions.”
February 3, 1854: “I drove to General Tithing Office on business for the Church. From February 4th to May 1st I was busy in the tithing office and delivering tithing produce to the General Tithing Office and at home in the different wards in Provo City, and visiting the different Bishops in the Stake and counseling the brethren, etc. etc. auditing the various offices.”
Brigham Gets Cattle
May 5, 1854: “President Young came this day to visit Provo on his way to the southern settlements. Held meeting and called for four head of cattle to make peace with Indian Walker, Chief of the Ute’s tribe that fought us last year. President Young remained at Springville until Tuesday. The cattle did not come into our office and it made Governor Young feel very bad, and he wrote the very severest letter to me reflecting on the people.” The following is a synopsis of the letter written to me in Provo City:
‘Springville, Utah County, May 8, 1854.
Bishop E. H. Blackburn, Provo, Utah.
Dear Brother: I made a call publicly in your place yesterday for some fat cattle for to make peace with Indian Walker and fully expected it (my request) to be certainly responded to. I was in earnest in making the call, etc. I now renew the call in a different way. First call on President George A. Smith, get his council and then go up on the range and pick me up eight or a dozen head of fat cattle. If the people don’t like it ask them what they are going to do about it. I will not cherish such brethren—as brethren they are aliens to God and his kingdom, etc. A long letter to me on this strain. Signed, S. Young, Governor—Utah.”
“Called Us Hard Names”
“I called on President Smith. He told me to go along and fill the order. I accordingly took two men and went upon the south range, got 13 head of steers and took the marks and brands on the cattle so the Governor could pay the proper persons for the cattle, which was done in gold that summer. I left the cattle in charge of a good man and rode on. Met President Young at Payson. He blessed me for getting the cattle for him. I returned to Provo to find much feeling about President Young and myself about the matter. The people called us hard names. President Young found walker in Sanpete Valley very mad. Did not speak for a great while. Then the Governor gave him the presents and good peace was made. President Young, the Governor, did pay the gold for the cattle. I did all in my power to lay the feeling against President Young and myself but in vain with many. What the Governor, President Young, did in the matter I consider was very right of course it saved many lives and stopped the war.”
Note: It seems that Governor Young envoked the law of “eminent domain” in the time of war emergency but left to the people freedom of speech.”
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Daily Herald, Tuesday, November 15, 1949, page 5
First Bishop Tells of Relief Trains to Beleagured Mormon Handcart Emigrant Companies
(Editor Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles prepared from the diary of Elias M. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo.)
In the interim between May 9 and August 26, 1854, Bishop Blackburn notes that his mother died in June at Provo City, and that during this period he was busy delivering tithing produce to the general tithing office and in presiding as Bishop and in doing the duties of Bishop in Provo City and the Third ward.
August 26, 1854.
“I drove from Provo to Salt Lake City, distance 48½ miles. Went directly to the President’s office. S. W. Richards and T. S. Williams had just arrived from the plains and reported our immigration far back for the season, and had lost their cattle; that is, a great number of their cattle. At 3 p.m. in council with President Young and others about the places he wished me to go. President Young appointed me to raise the provisions, teams, wagons, men, and supplies to proceed at once to relieve the suffering saints. I accordingly left his office at 4 p.m. with a letter to the Bishops of Utah county. I herewith give a summary of the letter:
‘Salt Lake City, August 26, 1854, to Bishop E. H. Blackburn and Brethren of Utah county: Dear Brethren, S. W. Richards and T. S. Williams have arrived this afternoon and report our immigration far back for the season and moving very slow and the last train had lost 120 head of cattle. We have requested Bishop E. H. Blackburn to take charge of the trains which he has carefully complied with. We wish you to furnish 30 yoke of oxen, 5 tons of flour, 18 men, 6 horses, and provisions for teamsters as soon as possible as many are without provision. B. Young.’
Had Supplies Rolling
“I proceeded on a good horse, traveled through the night and had to take most of the wheat from the field from the shock, and in four days I had rolling to the president—38 yoke of oxen, 8 wagons, 18 men, 5½ tons of flour, 6 horses and horsemen, vegetables, potatoes, etc. I rode into the city to get instructions for the journey. President Young seemed surprised that I had raised the amount required so soon. Blessed me and gave written instructions about Indians, etc.”
August 31, 1854: “I over-took my train on Big Canyon Creek. Next morning I found a good span of mules. Rode one of them. Holman rode the other.” A marginal note says: “The span of mules I found going out, I turned over to the General Tithing Office. They proved to belong to Livingston and Company, merchants of Salt Lake City.” (This is the same Livingston and Kinkaid that saved E. H. Blackburn from cholera on the Platt River in 1849). “Nothing out of the way of train life until going on a forced march until we arrived on the Big Sandy river, then very low. Found the Danish company of 98 wagons nearly out of flour. I let them have 100 sacks and an order on Fort Bridger for flour where I had deposited two tons. I then made all speed to find the disabled trains at the Pacific Springs. I left the train in charge of Sessions and took Holman with me. We rode on to Sweetwater. Met at noon E. T. Benson, the Apostle. A great time of rejoicing. At night found the train disabled from loss of oxen. Distance from Great Salt Lake 260 miles.”
Time of Rejoicing
September 15, 1854: “Had a meeting. I preached to the immigrants. A great time of rejoicing. Good Liberty. (“Good Liberty” is an expression used freely by E. H. Blackburn and seems to indicated inspirations and free delivery). Apostle (Benson) counselled me to take part of their loading as the rest of the teams could take care of themselves, which I did and started on our return to Great Salt Lake Valley. At Green River Apostle Benson organized all of the companies that came back to help the saints into my company which made my labors much greater having a train of 35 wagons in my charge, and grass being scarce and weather warm. I arrived in Great Salt Lake City October 4, 1854. President Young invited me to dinner with him. We had some peaches the first that I had eaten in Utah. That same day I delivered to Daniel H. Wells the goods I had brought in—found all the goods allright.”
October 5, 1854. “I returned home. Found my children many of them down with sore eyes. I feeling somewhat weary after my toilsome journey back on the plains.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, November 20, 1949, Centennial Corner
Saints Gather ‘Honey Dew’; Bishop is Marriage Counselor
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of articles prepared from the pioneer diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of early Provo.
October 10, 1854: “I was afflicted with sore eyes being struck by a piece of timber when I was sawing at our sawmill, which caused the inflammation. I suffered untold suffering.”
October 15, 1854: “My time was all employed at the tithing office receiving tithing and shipping it to the general tithing office. Nothing different from the general office work until January 1, 1855.
January 1, 1855: “In the office doing business for the wards. Giving recommendations to the brethren and sisters.”
February 10, 1855: “Drove to Salt Lake City with tithing, preaching, holding meetings in the Utah Stake until April 4, 1855.”
April 4, 1855: “I drove to conference to Salt Lake City and took Elizabeth Hales with me, and on the 7th day of April, 1855, she was sealed to me by President George A. Smith.”
Accompanies Pres. Young
May 9, 1855: “I took my wife, Elizabeth, and accompanied President Young to Iron county. Each day’s journey was not taken down. Suffice it to say we had a good time and much valuable instruction given to saints all the way.”
June 10, 1855: “Returned, found all well. Went to office.”
June 12, 1855: “Indians camped in our grain field. I rode to see the governor. He advised me to buy them out of the fields. I returned and on the 13th day I bought the Indians out of our fields. Paid them $7,500 thinking it better than to have another war.”
Note: While the amount paid the Indians seems to be excessive, the figures are plain and decisive and represents hard trading on the part of the Indians.
July 10, 1855: “About this time a ‘honey dew’ fell. The saints paid of what they gathered, 332 pounds. I delivered it to the general tithing office, Salt Lake City. It was given to the Temple hands.”
“Honey Dew” Explained
Note: This honey dew hardened and crystallized on the leaves of young cottonwood trees, willows, and according to some authorities even on the rocks and reached the thickness of glass in window panes, in some instances. There was apparently more than one way in which this honey dew was gathered. According to some methods, the branches and leaves containing it were placed in tubs and kettles of water until the substance was dissolved. Bishop Blackburn states that the crystals were shaken off the leaves onto tents and wagon covers and then dissolved in water. After the water was strained the boiling process took place which reduced the substance to a solid mass comparable to brown sugar, apparently with a bitter twang as the Deseret News at about this time wonders if the saints could find a way to leave the bitter taste out of the sugar. The effort to gather the honey dew took on the proportions of a community project as between three and four thousand pounds were gathered by the methods mentioned.
Journeys to Salt Lake
September 11, 1855: “Drove to Salt Lake City and to the Endowment House, and my wife Nancy and Elizabeth got their endowments and were sealed to me over the altar (to do this we traveled all night).”
Special Note: Nancy was in delicate health at this time and so the all night drive to Salt Lake City from Provo and the trip to the Endowment House must have been too much for her as she was delivered of a baby girl which they called Bathsheba on September 14th at the home of President George A. Smith. This baby girl 34 years later became the mother of Frances Grundy (Callahan) now the wife of the compiler of these articles.
October 4, 1855: “I drove to conference. Had a glorious time. President Young admonished the saints. He said there was more need to preach at home than there was abroad.”
October 12, 1855: “I held Bishops Court between a local man and his wife, and admonished them for their faults. They agreed to live together again.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, November 27, 1949
Bishop Blackburn Settles Some Trouble About Dancing, And Hires a Clerk for $30 a Month
Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series prepared from the pioneer diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of early Provo. It illustrates the wide powers held by Mormon bishops in pioneer communities of Utah where the church was motivating factor in settlement.
October 14, 1855: “Sunday—I gave instructions to saints and held a Bishop’s Meeting in the afternoon.”
October 16, 1855: “Brother Bullocks’ three-year-old boy was run over by a load of adobes and instantly killed. Much lamentation.”
October 19, 1855: “Settled some difficulties in the First ward, and in the tithing office receiving tithing and sending it to the general tithing office. I received a letter from President George A. Smith that a conference of the stake would be held in Provo city on the 27th instant.”
October 27, 1855: “We held conference, President George A. Smith presiding. Opened the conference with a powerful sermon. I preached on the 28th.”
“Difficulty About Dancing”
November 3, 1855: “Some difficulty about the dancing. President Young had previously counselled me to take special charge of the dancing or send a good elder (to take charge). The difficulty was settled.”
November 23, 1855: “Held bishop’s court in the case of Zedocks Bethers who professed to have revelations that the church was all wrong. We cut him off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
November 28, 1855: “This day I hired A. K. Thurber to assist me in office as clerk. Paid him $30.00 per month and boarded him.”
December 7, 1855: “At home with my sick wife, Nancy. She was very sick with the lung fever. Very nigh unto death but through the mercy of God and prayer of faith, she recovered.”
December 17, 1855: “I went on horseback with Dominicus Carter and Jay Jones to settle a difficulty with the bishop and Brother Harvey. Harvey was very stubborn and did not take counsel. He said that we brethren were in the dark. On the 19th we returned to Provo and wrote our findings to Brother J. C. Snow, SLC.”
December 25, 1855: “Christmas—attended a ball at the music hall. Some opposition in the dance but all ended well.”
December 30, 1855: “Attended meeting. Cut Simon Kelling off from the church for infidelity, profanity, etc.”
December 31, 1855: “Marshall Haywood and the judges arrived. We gave them a party in the evening. All went off well.
January 1, 1856: “The coldest by nine degrees since the settlement in these vallies. This year opens very cold and stormy. Snow deep.”
January 13, 1856: “Sunday—I spoke to the people about the poor and duties, etc. About three months ago the government stopped the Utah mails on account of the lies that was sent back by the judges and others, and President Young wrote me, etc., to run the mails, which I did.” (We shall hear more about running the mails at a later date). (The judges referred to are: Drummond and Stiles, federal appointees).
March 9, 1856: “I took my financial report of the tithing office from March 20, 1851, to January 1, 1856. I had at that time received and dispersed, according to orders from general tithing office, $56,150.34. I took it in person to President. He seemed satisfied with my report of the tithing.”
NOTE: This represents an amount of approximately $12,000 per year or $1,000 per month. Most of it was paid in produce and much of it perishable. No wonder the bishop had to do a lot of night driving to save the butter and cheese).
March 12, 1856: “President George A. Smith and myself drove around Provo. Viewed the foundation for the Provo meeting house.”
(NOTE: this is the meeting house that was build on the same block but north of where the tabernacle now stands. J. M. Jensen says in his history of Provo that Bishop Blackburn was in charge of the building of the Provo meeting housing during the early part of its construction).
March 15, 1856: “I hired Elisha Goff as a farmhand, my time all being taken up in the office and among the people. (Note: Elisha Goff was a brother to Bishop Blackburn’s first wife, Sarah, and in later years was well known to me, (Wm. H. Callahan) as a matter of fact I conducted his funeral services).
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, December 4, 1949, Centennial Corner
Bishop Blackburn Tells Of “Famine Year” in Early Provo
(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series prepared by William H. Callahan from the pioneer diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of early Provo.)
March 25, 1856: Sunday — “I spoke to the people —counselled them to impart to the poor. Many are suffering for provisions on acount of the great plague last year, the grasshoppers taking most of our grain. I have many calls. I made a report to President (Bishop) Hunter of all the produce I had on hand in tithing store.”
(Note: In pioneer history the results of the year 1855, known as the famin year, hit especially hard in the forepart of 1856.)
April 1, 1856: “Apostle Ezra T. Benson preached to us. We donated him a lot of provisions.”
April 5, 1856: “I took President George A. Smith with me to conference in Salt Lake City. Sermons by most of the Twelve. This conference sent over 300 missionaries into different parts of the world. My son, George A. is very sick.”
April 24, 1856: “I drove to Salt Lake City with produce and my report.”
April 25, 1856: “Drove home. Sister Hannah Smith rode with me. My report being very satisfactory to them in office.”
April 27, 1856: “We held conference in Provo City. Selected a High Council.”
May 4, 1856: “Sunday—Snowed all forenoon. I went to see President George A. Smith. He advised me to call the Bishops together at 3 p.m. He and I spoke to them. A good time.”
May 20, 1856: “Started at 6 p.m.—traveled all night with butter and cheese to general tithing office. Weather was so warm.”
June 1, 1856: “Attended meeting. Disfellowshipped Isaac Ross for contempt of Bishop’s Court, he being very unruly.”
(Note: Apparently the Bishop Court mentioned some authority and dignity and enforced respect for the same.)
July 4, 1856: “Brethren of the county came here to sign the payroll of the Indian difficulty. My name did not come back from Washington, consequently I have not got a dollar from the government for all my express _iding and all my other services.”
July 5, 1856: “I and Counsel decided a case between H. (Harlow) Redfield and John Holman of Pleasant Grove.”
July 20, 1856: “Drove all night with butter to tithing house. President Young gave me a pair of scales for the tithing office which was much needed — good ones.”
Then we find this interpolation: “In January of this year my son Brigham was born. Mother’s name, Elizabeth.”
July 21, 1856: “Potatoes and other vegetables begin to come into the office.”
(Note: This seems to be the first easing of the famine or of the food shortage, however let it be said that no one perished because of hunger but most everyone had to tighten his belt in order to make the food go around.)
September 15, 1856: He notes that he was busy getting teams to haul grain to the general tithing office, a distance of 50 miles, and that 50 cents per hundred was allowed for this work as tithing credit.”
September 12, 1856: “Advised Sister Barney to prefer a charge against Brother Werden for not paying his board bill.”
September 20, 1856: “Received letter from music band that they would be in Provo City to play. Come have a good time.”
September 21, 1856: “President J. C. Snow and his brother preached. We had a good time with the band music.”
(Note: James Chaney Snow was President of Utah or (Provo) stake suceeding President George A. Smith from 1853 to 1858. He is mentioned often in Blackburn’s Journal, and was a devoted follower of Brigham Young.)
September 28, 1856: He mentions that his boy, Brigham, was very sick with bloody flux.
(Note: About this time a religious revival known as the “reformation” seems to have began moving the church authorities in Provo. About October 1, Bishop Blackburn mentions preaching on the reformation.)
October 4, 1856: As usual Bishop E. H. Blackburn started to general conference.
October 5, 1856: “President Young preached. Called for 60 teams and 12 tons of flour to go back on the plains for the poor of the handcarts. Called on us Bishops to get the teams to go back for them. At 2 p.m., President Edward Hunter, presiding bishop of the church, called the bishops together and the amount was raised. I raised for the expedition 2,000 pounds of flour and two mule teams, etc.”
October 8, 1856: “I drove home, arrived at dark by my boy, Brigham, still sick—so bad that only a few thought he would live.”
October 9, 1856: “His eyes became set in his head. I administered to him and had to give him up, but an hour after he got better and lived. A miracle to many.”
[There may be some more, but it is missing in the copy I made. vlb]
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Daily Herald, Tuesday, December 13, 1949, Centennial Corner.
Old Provo Diary Tells Dramatic Story of Relief Expedition to Suffering Handcart Pioneers
Editor’s Note: A remarkable story, calmly told but with stark drama between its briefly written lines, is told in this ninth installment from the diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo. He tells of the relief expedition to rescue the starving, suffering, freezing Mormon converts who were crossing the plains in 1856 with handcarts and were caught by approaching winter. It is lacking in detail, as most records of that episode seem to be, but The Daily Herald considers itself fortunate to be able to present one of the relatively few authentic, first-hand accounts of this epic in Mormon history. The series is prepared by William H. Callahan of Provo, directly from the original diary of Bishop Blackburn.
October 10, 1856: “I was very busy raising teams to go back after the handcart company. I raised the teams.”
October 12, 1856: “I called for ten teams to freight tithing to general tithing office.”
October 20, 1856: “Snow three inches deep. Provo increasing in population.”
(Note: From this time until the 12th of November, E. H. Blackburn was busy with his regular duties.)
November 12, 1856: “Locating the poor saints. Many have arrived from the old country and settled in Provo. I called on the Brethren and Sisters to bring in their clothing and provisions for the suffering saints. They brought in $229.80 and me and the council dispearsed it to the poor and distressed, those who were frozen, a bad sight.”
Marginal Note: “The handcart company very very badly frozen.” From this time until December 1st the work of the reformation was carried forward vigorously, many confessing their sins. 39 head of cattle taken to general tithing office.
Help for Handcart Sufferers
December 1, 1856: “This morning I received a letter from the First Presidency calling on me as Bishop to raise 7 tons of flour, 10 four horse teams to go back on the road to bring in the suffering saints. I called the people together and read the letter. I set five blacksmiths to shoeing horses, and with all speed flour and horse feed was brought into the office. Loading wagons all day and all night. At 9 a.m. December 2nd I had 20,000 pounds of flour and horse feed (in December all horse feed would have to be carried), all in wagons. Fourteen wagons, 28 span (horses), teamsters, etc. all on the full trot for Salt Lake City. Very cold. I drove to Salt Lake City same day. President Young and others were greatly surprised that I had raised the amount so soon. (A marginal note adds: “Handcart company, great sufferers. The saints in Provo did well in donating. Did their whole duty.” This coming from E. H. Blackburn meant something because he was never over-indulgent with compliments.) The above is a story simply told but so full of action and drama that one can scarcely hold back the tears. Tears for suffering of the handcart pioneers and tears of gratitude for such heroic action on the part of our own Provo pioneers who were the grand and great grandparents of many of our citizens of today. Elsewhere E. H. Blackburn reports that 141 of the sick half-frozen immigrants came to Provo.)
December 3, 1856: “I arrived home in Provo City. All well.”
December 4, 1856: “I was visiting the poor, administering to their wants. I got a number of hands to go on my lumber slide east of city, etc.”
December 6, 1856: “Called Bishops and lessor Priesthood. Counseled all about the poor, etc. Great union together.”
December 7, 1856: “Sunday—“I held meeting. Also received an express from Captain Williams from the plains calling for 40 bushels of oats for teams. I raised the oats, three yoke of oxen and sent them back. 2 p.m. held meeting instructing the Bishops about the poor and the raising of provisions for them.”
December 8, 1856: “In the office arranging to see the saints. The reformation continues. The people are turning to the Lord doing their duty to each other. (Worked with the Reformation until Christmas).”
December 25, 1856 Christmas: “The Brethren of the military were at the hall. I delivered an address called on all officers to do their duty to God and Man. At the close Captain Conover rose and made his acknowledgement which was received by all.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, December 18, 1949, Centennial Corner.
Bishop Blackburn Preaches On Reformation, Takes Another Wife, and Has Picture Taken.
(Editor’s Note: This is the 10th in a series from the original diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo, prepared by William H. Callahan. It deals extensively with the “reformation” movement which concerned the Mormon church in the 1850s. Just what the “reformation” was, or what made it necessary, is not mentioned by the bishop. He talks instead of his efforts and preaching throughout the area in its behalf. Those who have studied his writings expressed the opinion it was probably a reaffirming of faith on the part [of] the people. This is only an opinion, however, and Bishop Blackburn’s diary thus far fails to explain it.
Two other significant events are mentioned in this part of the series. The venerable bishop takes another wife (three are mentioned in this story—one has a baby, one is the new bride and a third is ill—and has his “likeness” taken.)
January 1, 1857: “The year opened with preaching and the work of the reformation in full swing. Many confessing their sins and being re-baptized.”
On January 4, 1847 Elias H. Blackburn records: “Sunday. Meeting. A sermon by J. C. Snow on repentence. I spoke on the same, faith, etc., to turn to the Lord.”
January 6, 1857: “I started south (with) a number of the brethren. Drove twenty miles to the City of Payson. Held meeting. A good time. I appointed Brother Pierce to take charge of Pond Town or Salem. Took dinner at bishop Brooks. 2 p.m. drove to Spanish Fork. Held meeting. At 6 p.m. I spoke, followed by the brethren of my company. A very happy time.”
“Lungs Were Sore”
January 8, 1857: “Left Spanish Fork at 10 a.m. to fill appointment at Springville. Meeting at 11 a.m. I spoke followed by A. Williams, S. Nixon, Allen, and others. Dined at E. W. Storrs and home at 4 p.m. having enjoyed a good time and all felt well. Much of the good spirit enjoyed. Much labor in speaking in the reformation has made my lungs sore. Meeting in Provo. I spoke one hour. Held meeting with block teachers 7 p.m. Went to G. W. Armstrongs. His daughter-in-law had an evil spirit. We labored until til 1 p.m. (might have been 1 a.m. or if p.m. the next day). Then we, by the power of God, cast the evil spirit out. She immediately got up, combed her hair, was well.”
January 10, 1857: “In the tithing office. Settled a difficulty, etc. Meeting at 10 a.m., Warren Snow spoke. I followed. I called on all to make their wrongs right and repent of their sins.”
January 22, 1857: Started at 6 p.m. drove 48½ miles to Salt Lake City. One day in City. President O. Hyde came with me.” Marginal note reads: “Brother Hyde the Apostle related to me his experience with evil spirits in England.” Elias H. Blackburn continues: “About this time I was called to catechize all the bishops and their counsels in the Utah stake or county, which I did.”
(Note: It seems that Apostle Orson Hyde remained in Provo the balance of January and through February assisting with the reformation and preaching to the people.)
Bishop Takes Another Wife
February 7, 1857: “I married Hannah Haws. Was in Salt Lake City. Heard sermon from President Young and H. C. Kimball. A good time. Drove home to Provo City. Found all well at home.”
February 12, 1857: “I spoke to the Silver Grays Military. A good time at meeting and in the afternoon.”
March 1, 1857: The past week busy in tithing office, etc.”
March 2, 1857: “O. Hyde preached to us in the afternoon. Myself, Snow (J. C.), Carter (Dominicus), and others were baptized by O. Hyde. My wife Nancy gave birth to a son.”
March 4, 1857: “I started to general tithing office with a load of tithing.” (Upon his return, he states that his son was eight days old so he blessed him and called his name, David Patten.)
March 12, 1857: “Went and saw Brother Dibble perform in show.”
March 28, 1857: “I received a present of some jar fruit from H. S. Eldredge store to take with me when I go north with President Young to Salmon River. I was sowing wheat, etc. and in the evening had my likeness taken.”
April 5, 1857: “I drove to Salt Lake City to conference. The Twelve was mostly there. President Young spoke against all manner of wickedness. Counselled the saints to lay up grain. President Young chastised F. D. Richards very hard.”
April 8, 1857: “I drove home. Arrived 6 p.m.—all well.”
April 9, 1857: “Fixing up as I have been called by letter to accompany President Young and Company to visit the Lemhi Mission. Meeting. I preached to the people. Full house.”
April 15, 1857: “I baptized most of my ward in ‘font’.”
April 16, 1857: “My wife, Sarah Jane, is still sick with a cough.”
April 17, 1857: “Administered to the poor of the ward.”
April 19, 1857: “Sunday. Meeting with the saints. They are very sorrowful because I am going away for a time.”
April 21, 1857: “Fixing to start for Lemhi.”
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Daily Herald, Monday December 26, 1949. Centennial Corner.
Bishop Goes With Company To Fort Lemhi On Salmon
Bishop Blackburn goes with the company to Fort Lemhi on the Salmon river in Oregon [Idaho today].
April 22, 1857: “I took my team, a first rate span of dark chestnut sorrels, and took J. C. Snow in my carriage with me and started to accompany President Young and company to Fort Lemhi to see our brethren of the mission as we had both been called by letter from the president to accompany them. Started at 10 a.m. A great many came to see us off. My wife, Nancy, accompanied me as far as the city of Salt Lake.”
April 23, 1857: “At Salt Lake City.”
April 24, 1857: “Traveled 40 miles to Ogden city.”
April 25, 1857: “25 miles to Brigham city. Took dinner with the president and the twelve apostles at President L. Snow’s. President H. C. Kimball joked me at table.”
April 26, 1857: “Traveled and arrived at 3 p.m. at Bear river and organized. We had in company 144 souls—men, women, and children.”
Note: This company was about the exact number that Brigham Young led into Salt Lake Valley 10 years earlier.
April 27, 1857: “Started at 8 a.m. Traveled up the Malad river. Nothing other than camp life for four days. Then struck the Snake river, head waters of the Columbia 5-1-57.”
May 1, 1857: “Camped on river about one-half mile wide.”
May 2, 1857: “At Snake river I was busy in the water helping to fix the boat and ferrying in the afternoon.”
May 3, 1857: “Finished ferrying across the wagons and carriages. Ferried over all safe without an accident. We swam our horses over the river. I went on guard. I being in the water so much took cold. We had in camp 144 souls, 168 head of horses and mules, 54 wagons and carriages. A great and glorious time.”
May 4, 1857: Sunday. “Held meeting on Snake river. As usual camp life until May 9.”
May 9, 1857: “Arrived at Fort Lemhi at 1 p.m. and found the missionaries about 40 in number, all well. We all feel thankful to the Lord for his watchful care over us in protecting us on our journey. I visited the farming land. Found it good. Held meeting. President preached, gave good counsel to build a new fort away from the willows which counsel was not afterwards kept. Nothing [w]as done to move the fort and for this disobedience the mission was scattered by the Indians and broken up, and some of the brethren killed by the Blackfoot Indians. This river that this mission was located on was called Salmon river.”
May 14, 1857: “We started on homeward journey after bidding the mission goodbye. Traveled till the 20th.”
May 20, 1857: “I was chosen with a few others to start ahead at 4 am. to get the boats out of the sand and fix them for the water, and when the president arrived at 11 a.m. all was ready.”
May 21, 1857: “Got all the camp over rife save and well. Nothing out of usual. Camp life until May 25.”
May 25, 1857: “Camped on Bear river where we organized going out. Meeting at 6 p.m. President Young disorganized us. He was greatly overcome in his feelings. Said he never expected to see such a day as he had seen on this trip. They all was agreed and one. Blessed the camp and disbanded us. All felt well. Had a good time.”
May 26, 1857: “Camped on Bear river. Started at 8 a.m. drove 12 miles to the town of Brigham City or Box Elder. The saints had anticipated our coming and had prepared a fine breakfast for all of us. One hundred and forty-four souls sat down to one table in the basement of their meeting house. A glorious time. Much rejoicing. Started at 10 a.m. drove 20 miles to Ogden city. Camped at Captain Browns.”
May 27, 1857: “Left Captain Brown’s at 8 a.m. drove 46 miles to Mill Creek. Camped for the night with a feeling of rejoicing being blessed of the Lord.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, January 5, 1950, Provo in the 1850s
Bishop Blackburn Recruits 50 Provoans To Fight Army of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson.
(Editor’s note: This is the 12th in a series on early Provo history written by William H. Callahan from the personal diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo.)
May 28, 1857: “Left Mill Creek at 7:30. Drove home to Provo. Found all well except my wife, Sarah Jane. She had been very sick in my absence. We returned our thanks to God for his mercies in returning us home and to the bosom of my family after an absence of five weeks having traveled between eight and nine hundred miles.”
(Note: Under present day conditions this distance could be covered quite comfortably in a day and a half.)
May 29, 1857: “Held meeting. A time of rejoicing. Found my clerk, Brother Charles Skelton, doing as well as could be expected. (Good man.)
(Note: It appears that while Bishop Blackburn and J. C. Snow were away on this trip to Lemhi, there was a modern Mariaim and Aaron setting up a new idol for the people to follow after, which was of enough concern and importance that Bishop Blackburn returned immediately to Salt Lake to confer with Brother Brigham about it. (The persons concerned were H. Redfield, and Joseph Young, a brother of Brigham Young.) President Young straightened the matter out and sustained President J. C. Snow and Bishop Blackburn, but we are left in the dark as to what the real trouble was).
June 4, 1857: “I brought President George A. Smith home with me.”
June 8, 1857: “Sunday. A good meeting. I spoke. Advised the saints to pay up their offerings. A good sermon by President George A. Smith. I got an order to furnish 12 yoke of oxen. A heavy rain.”
(From this time until the 24th of July, Bishop Blackburn busied himself in the tithing office and on his farm. He mentions there was a celebration on the 4th of July at which all seemed to enjoy themselves).
July 20, 1857: “I received a letter from President Young to accompany him to the celebration in Big Cotton Wood Canyon. A glorious time. We arrived at 3 p.m. at lake (Silver Lake) eighteen miles from the mouth of the canyon. Music, dancing, etc. on our arrival. A most pleasant place.”
July 24, 1857: “Firing of cannon at daybreak. Flag on top of a very tall pine tree. A glorious day. President Young and others spoke with freedom. At 5 p.m. Porter Rockwell and Brother Redden came into camp from the plains and brought the news that the U. S. army was on the plains coming to destroy us. This they had boasted of. President Young said that the army would not get into the valley.”
Note: The news of Johnson’s army coming west being made known to Brigham Young while celebrating the tenth anniversary of the arrival of the saints in Salt Lake Valley, is well documented. In spite of this face, there is some discrepancy as to who the bearers of this distressing news were. J. M. Jensen in his book on Provo said that it was Porter Rockwell, A. O. Smoot, and Judson E. Stoddard, but Joseph Fielding Smith in his “Essentials in Church History” adds another name, that of Judge Elias Smith. However, rumor or hearsay could have caused some confusion as there were some 2600 people at the celebration on this occasion, or it may be that Brother Redden was a member of the party not mentioned by one of the other writers on the subject).
July 25, 1857: “Started home. Traveled all day. Camped at Salt Lake City.”
July 26, 1857: “Arrived at Provo. Found all well.”
August 1, 1857: “I tried a case between Lee Scovil and D. Carter.”
August 2, 1857: “Sunday. Held meeting. I chastised some young ladies’ unbecoming actions in bathing.”
August 3, 1857: “Working on my farm and counseling to save our grain. A very busy time.”
Works at Harvest
August 5, 1857: “Cut some wheat. Hauling hay, etc. up to today cutting wheat with a scythe. No reapers those days. Very hard times—not many good.”
August 14, 1857: “Colonel William B. Pace received an order from General Wells (Daniel H. Wells) to raise fifty men to go back on the plains. This labor rested upon me as bishop to raise the men. We raised the whole command of fifty men, horses, etc. in 24 hours from the time we received the express. All mounted on horseback with baggage, provisions, etc. and started for Salt Lake City.”
(Note: This seems to be the first call made on the people of Provo, but not the last to furnish men and supplies for the army. The army under command of General D. H. Wells was being recruited and equipped as well as possible for the purpose of defending the saints against invasion by the army of the United States under command of Colonel E. B. Alexander and later General Albert Sidney Johnson).
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Provo in the 1850s, [date cut off]
Johnson’s Army Draws Closer As Bishop Blackburn Counsels Provoans—And Has Birthday
(Editor’s Note: This is the 13th in a series of articles by William H. Callahan prepared directly from the diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo).
August 16, 1857: “Sunday. I spoke to the people. A good meeting.”
August 17, 1857: “I drove to Salt Lake City. Saw Governor Young. Had a good time with him. Much good instruction.”
August 22, 1857: “I settled a difficulty with Brother and Sister Foster.”
August 24, 1857: “Counselled Sister Wooley to go back and live with Brother Wooley, and in the office all day.”
August 25, 1857: “I started with 23 head of cattle to Salt Lake to get ammunition for the army. Arrived at 6 p.m. Paid bill for ammunition, $295.75. I was appointed quartermaster and commissary to the army of Provo and vicinity.”
(Note: This appears to have been a rather significant and important appointment as later developments will reveal).
August 30, 1857: “Preached to the people on faith and tiths paying.”
September 1, 1857: “I rented William Store for commissary purposes. Today sent 100 bushels of potatoes to general tithing office. Very busy these days in the three offices (Tithing, Quartermaster, and Commissary).”
September 2, 1857: “Sending off a company to the plains and visiting in relation to the military.”
(Note: From this time, September 1, 1857, to July 1, 1858, Provo plays a very important part in the history of the Mormon people and the territory of Utah, and the struggle between our people and the United States army and certain government officials. No small part of the burden was borne by the saints of Provo under the leadership of Bishop Blackburn. In most of the accounts I have read of this eventful period, the part played by Provo and her people and especially the activity of Bishop Blackburn who was: _titching bishop of the four wards, quartermaster and commissary to the army of Provo and vicinity, has been given only slight consideration. Far too slight in consideration of the importance they bore to the whole episode, including the supplying of the army and the “move” south. The brunt of this was borne by Provo and vicinity. For evidence supporting this personal opinion, and it is up to now personal, please follow carefully the entries which will be quoted from the journal of Elias H. Blackburn made at the time. Due to great pressure for time, the entries are of necessity brief. Use your own imagination and your knowledge of the geography of the county, etc., and then draw your own conclusions.—William H. Callahan.)
September 5, 1857: “Sent a present of comfort—flour, corn, melons, to Indian Tintic. He felt well. No word from Captain Clark, but plenty of word from the United States army. Moving on to destroy us.”
September 15, 1857: “Quartermaster Van Vliet of the United States army came in to Salt Lake to engage supplies but got none. Went back and resigned.”
Note: Captain Stewart Van Vliet of the commissary department of the United States army proved to be a friend and a blessing to the people of Utah. Although he threatened to withdraw from the army if it marched against the saints, apparently he [did] not do so.”
September 17, 1857: “This day is my birthday. I am 30 years old. Killed a beef for the army back east. Very hard frost last night, killed vegetation.”
Special Note: Let us pause here long enough to observe that this man Blackburn has just reached 30 years of age, a relatively young man. Still he has been bishop of Provo for more than six years during which time he has helped to fight Indians, crickets, grasshoppers, drought, and famine; has sent relief in generous quantities to the belated and suffering saints crossing the plains; was a leader and prime mover in building meeting houses, industries, etc.; was running the mail from Salt Lake City to Nephi at the request of Brigham Young, an expensive venture for which he was never paid; was still bishop of Provo Third ward as well as quartermaster and commissary to the army, and soon to receive in consignment all the wheat and flour of the church. On the domestic side, he was the husband of four wives and father of a number of children. Not a bad record for a man of 30 with 50 years still to go.—William H. Callahan).
September 25, 1857: “Sick abed with overwork. My labors have been incessant—almost night and day.”
September 28, 1857: “Some better. Heard from the army. They are on the Sweetwater. They say that they will come into Salt Lake City or die. No further news at dark. Health bad but in the office.”
October 5, 1857: “To conference. Put up at Father Taylor’s. Good conference.”
October 8, 1857: “Drove home. Warm nice weather.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, January 22, 1850, Provo in The 1850s.
Bishop Blackburn Does Some Human Griping, and Scores 100% On His Court Convictons
(Editor’s note: This is the 14th in a series prepared by William H. Callahan direct from the original diary of Elias Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo.)
October 10, 1857: “Received word from Colonel Pace. He wanted more supplies. Sent beef, cattle, etc.”
October 15, 1857: “Visited the sick, and very busy. Much overworked. Sick but have to labor hard.”
November 1, 1857: “From October 25th to this day very busy in office. I married Brother E. Kellog and Sister Bird at 2 p.m.”
November 3, 1857 “I drove to Salt Lake City. Saw President Young.”
November 4, 1857: “Rained all day and night. Very wet time.”
November 5, 1857: “Left Salt Lake City 8 a.m. President Geo. A. Smith came with me.”
November 7, 1857: “I decided a case between Brother and Sister Found. She got dissatisfied—wanted a divorce and property which I gave her.”
November 8, 1857: “Feeling better this morning. Captain Clark received orders to march as Colonel Alexander is on the move forthwith to Salt Lake City. (Colonel E. B. Alexander was in command of the United States Army at this time). Colonel P. W. Conover said they would not start until the next morning.”
Beef For Army
November 10, 1857: “Killed two beefs for the army supplies. Filling orders that came from the department.”
November 16, 1857: “President Snow (J. C.), myself, and L. N. Scovil drove to Santaquin to settle a difficulty between Johnson and Carpenter. Johnson was very stubborn. We worked at the case all night until six next morning making twelve hours setting. The brethren confessed their faults and forgave each other.”
November 17, 1857; “An appointment at Provo. Took my pants, vest, shoes, gloves and sent them to the boys in the army as clothing was very scarce.”
(Note: This looks like another case where supplying the army got close to the skin. W.H.C.)
November 19, 1857: “Started five loads of provisions to the army. Very busy getting off men and provisions.”
Complains About Mails
December 1, 1857: “A few months ago the United States Government stopped the Utah mails and about this time President Young wrote to me to rig up and run our mail from Salt Lake City to Salt Creek or Nephi. I took my own teams; one span from Provo to Salt Lake and the other from Provo to Salt Creek (Nephi), both once a week. The President wished me to run it for three months, which I did and at the expiration someone else would run it. After faithfully running it for three months I wrote him. He, President Young, wrote back that I had given good satisfaction and he wished me to continue. Now this was a great hindrance to me financially as there was no pay in it and I had to furnished both (teams to run the mail) of the teams I had. I continued to run the mail with Brother R. C. Gibbons as driver for one year. I got the loan of a span of mules from Bishop Johnson and a wild span from Bishop Craze for about three months. This was about all the help I got. It cost me individually a great amount. The government afterwards gave $10,000 for the same services annually. I ran this mail half the year to Cedar Springs now Holden, a distance from Salt Lake City of 140 miles. Nothing was ever said or done about me getting pay for this work. I trust I shall be rewarded for the services I have done the saints in this matter, in the world to come. Amen.”
Marginal Note: “Running United States mails free for the good of the people.”
(Note: This statement by Bishop Blackburn is the nearest approach to a complaint to anything I have read in his journal with respect to what he was asked to do. W.H.C.)
December 2, 1857: “This day I got out a report for President Smith of all those that had been cut off the church in Provo up to this time. A long list — not pleasant to remember.”
December 4, 1857: “P. W. Conover was sent home from the army for not obeying orders. I was busy in office.”
Marginal note states: “Some bitter feelings.”
December 5, 1857: “I called all the Bishops and counsel together and set on various offenses in the various wards. The number of offenders was 41 persons. The offense of stealing, lying, and breaking open Southworths’ Store in Salt Lake City. A very interesting court lasting three days. All proven guilty. All made their acknowledgement to court and the saints on the Sabbath Day. Some paid fourfold.”
December 13, 1857: “Sunday. The brethren confessed their faults and were forgiven.”
December 17, 1857: “I took sick with pleurisy and fever. Sick for three days.”
December 20, 1857: “Some better, being administered to by the Elders. Felt well but feeble and weak.”
December 25, 1857: “H. Roberts and J. N. Jones came after me with a carriage and took me to the party.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, January 29, 1950, Provo in the 1850s.
Brigham Young Lays Plans To Move Entire Church South As Johnson’s Army Threatens
(Editor’s Note: This is the 15th in a series of articles by William H. Callahan prepared direct from the original diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo. First plans for a great migration southward by the entire church are told, as Johnson’s army nears the territory of Utah.)
January 4, 1858: “In tithing office sending wheat to general tithing office. Preached to the Seventies, etc. Good liberty. Of all the preaching, baptizing, confirming, ordaining, setting apart, blessing children, etc. which I did, the fiftieth part is not written in this book.”
January 5, 1858: “Busy in the tithing office making out my report to general tithing office.”
January 10, 1858: “Brother Stewart came for his cattle.”
January 12, 1858: “At Salt Lake City. Spent one hour with the president. Good time. Drove home.”
January 15, 1858: “Today the legislature adjourned.”
February 1, 1858: “Up to this date was in tithing office and visiting wards organizing the lessor priesthood.”
February 2, 1858: “My health poor. Confined to my bed.”
February 7, 1858: “My health some better. Went to office. Did some business regulating the mail.”
February 8, 1858: “Started to Salt Lake City. Had an interview with Church Historian, Geo. A. Smith.”
February 10, 1858: “Hired one more clerk in office, J. M. Milner. Apostle E. Snow arrived. Preached to the people. I am very busy in the office and with the military. Brother Woodmansee came for his cattle. I had collected $180 worth of cattle for him to pay for ammunition for the army. Indian Chief Kanosh called on me overnight.”
February 26, 1858: “Inspected the military at Pleasant Grove. Took dinner at Brother McCarty’s. Fine day.”
March 3, 1858: “Drove to Salt Lake City. Saw the President.”
March 6, 1858: “Fitting up the army. About this time I got a private letter from Governor Young calling me to fit up a company of 75 men with provisions and all accouterment for the spring campaign thus my time was very busily taken up in the affairs of the army.”
March 16, 1858: “Very busy in quartermaster and commissary office.”
March 17, 1858: “Very snowy morning. Bad storm. My wife that was confined on the 5th is getting better.”
(Note: This is the first we have heard of this confinement, and we still don’t know whether it was a boy or a girl, or which wife. W.H.C.)
March 25, 1858: “I received a letter from President Young in relation to the army, and that he wanted me to send teams to Salt Lake City to take his family and effects to Provo City, and that the whole church was going to move forthwith south as our enemies are upon us.”
(Note: this appears to have been the beginning of the move. This letter to Bishop Blackburn was without doubt the first notice he had of the intention to move the whole church south. W.H.C.)
March 26, 1858: “I called a council and read President Young’s letter to them and instructed the Bishops of the wards to raise twenty teams. They were raised in due time.”
March 28, 1858: “At meeting read President Young’s letter to people.”
500 Men For Army
March 29, 1858: “Drove to Salt Lake City. Had a council with President Young. We agreed to send out 500 men to the army.”
March 31, 1858: “Drove home to Provo with Brother Huffaker.”
A marginal note reads: “An eventful time.”
April 2, 1858: President Young, Kimball, Wells, and others came up to Provo. Previous to this, President Young had written me to get all the vacant houses and also all the houses I could get from the people. I had succeeded in getting about fifty rooms for the President and the people to move into. He, President Young, was well pleased with what I had done. About this time all of the general tithing grain, flour, etc., was consigned to me at Provo for me to take charge of same. Ox team trains arrived daily. Trains with 30 wagons each loaded with wheat and flour which kept me very busy receiving and storing them on the block where the court house now stands in Provo.”
(Note, It is well to remember at this point that the people felt they had sufficient breadstuff to last them about three years and the last thing they intended to do was to allow any of it to reach the invading army, so it was all being sent south to be stored, temporarily at least, at Provo. Bishop Elias H. Blackburn appears to have been in charge of these commodities, first, as Bishop presiding in Utah Stake; second, as quartermaster for the army and as commissary under direction of the Governor of the Territory who, as is also well known, was Brigham Young. A rather close corporation but it was efficient and effective as we shall see. W.H.C.)
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, February 5, 1950. Provo in the 1850s.
Provo Had 30,000 People in 1858, Too—‘War Refugees’ From General Johnson’s Army
(Editor’s Note: This is the 16th in a series of articles prepared by William H. Callahan from the original diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo. Here, for what may be the first time, is told the story of Provo suddenly mushrooming to a city of 30,000 in 1858, jammed with members of the church from Salt Lake City and farther north who were fleeing the approach of Johnson’s army).
April 7, 1858: Took some men and went up Provo canyon and drove cattle to lake. Returned at 4 p.m.
April 9, 1858: A very severe snow storm. Snow four inches deep.
April 12, 1858: Up to this date busy unloading wagons, locating the brethren and sisters from Salt Lake City, and county. My labors are so hard and excessive that many evenings blood is in my boots. I had Bishop Hardy in the front part of my house. He was so moved to tears to see blood in my boots he got me some brandy which I bathed my feet with which greatly relieved me of my suffering.
April 23, 1858: President Young, Kimball, Geo. A. Smith, myself and others went to visit the range. Took dinner with Milo Andrus. A very instructive time.
April 24, 1858: President Young sent for me. We were in council until near 10 p.m. Solemn time.
April 25, 1858: President Young started to Salt Lake City. I was locating saints from S.L.C.
April 26, 1858: Sunday. Geo. A. Smith preached one and a half hours. A very good and great sermon. I preached to the people of Provo city.
Church Train Arrives
April 27, 1858: Church train arrived. I lifted hard all day at large boxes. Very tired. Much labor causes my health to be somewhat impaired.
May 3, 1858: President Young came up to Provo and finding out and seeing my excessive labors came in person and told me to quit lifting the boxes and wheat, only see to locating it and let the teamsters do the hard work as I was hurting myself. About this time President H. C. Kimball came to see me and among other things said that he knew that I was a good man and would go where he did in the spirit world and be saved and should be with him in Chirst’s [sic] Kingdom.
May 4, 1858: President Young started for Salt Lake City. I was very busy in locating the people from the city.
May 6, 1858: Received two mules from Bishop Johnson to help me run the mail with. A heavy tax on me. Governor A. Cummings came to Provo.
Appointee Makes Report
Note: Alfred Cummings of Georgia had been appointed by President James Buchanan to succeed Governor Young of the territory of Utah and traveled west with the army along with other federal appointees. Through the timely intervention of Colonel Thomas L. Kane, an old friend of the Mormons who had traveled all the way from Washington by way of Panama to lower California and then to Salt Lake City, arrangements were made for Governor Cummings to enter the valley in advance of the army. When he came in the spring of 1858 he found the people on the move south, and no amount of persuasion on his part seemed to have any effect on them. In his efforts to dissuade them from their intention he came to Provo as mentioned above. What he saw he tells in a report to the secretary of state in the following language:
“The roads were everywhere filled with wagons loaded with provisions and household furniture. The women and children often without shoes on or hats driving their flocks they knew not where. They seem not only resigned but cheerful. It is the will of the Lord and they rejoice to exchange the comforts of home for the trials of the wilderness. Their ultimate destination is not I presume, definitely fixed upon. Going south seems sufficiently definite for most of them, but many of them believe their ultimate destination is Sonora.”
Note: It seems that during April and May of 1858 the roads from Salt Lake, Davis, and Weber counties were fairly choked with people moving south. Most of these people never got any further than Utah county. The entire movement involved about 30,000 people. Provo was already the second city of the territory and with this influx of people on the move it soon became the chief city of the territory. President Young and his official family established themselves here. In addition to the people and what they had with them, there was all the wheat and flour belonging to the church to be hauled and stored. The housing shortage in Provo was terrific to say the least. The church built houses, a good share of the way around what is now the court house block where the city and county building stands. Some of these houses were used to house the saints and others for storage purposes. There was also a large marquee tent pitched in the middle of the lot also for storage purposes, but in spite of all this most of the people could not be properly housed. Every kind of a device was used. Lorin Farr, who had led some three to four thousand persons from Weber county alone to encampment in wagons, tents, and wickiups of long canes and flags (tules) in the bottoms of the Provo river recounts:
“The water was bad as we had to dig holes to get water, and the people began to complain of sickness, and the fed had also been all eaten off by the cattle. Our cows dried up. Flies were very bad—tormenting our cattle, and it was with great difficulty that we controlled our cattle from running off.”
It is no far cry to assume that the population of Provo and the immediate vicinity at the peak of the move, was comparable to our present numbers assuming our present population at 28,000, but with very few of the facilities for sanitation we have at the present time, and to add to the misery the weather turned unbearably hot. The situation was fast becoming desperate when relief came through the army passing through Salt Lake City without molestation and the return of the saints to their homes. This was early in July. Bishop Blackburn’s own story will continue next week.—W.H.C.
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, February 12, 1950, Provo in The 1850s.
Migration South to Escape Army Continues—Then Peace Assured and People Go Home
(Editor’s Note: This is the 17th in a series of articles written by William H. Callahan from the original diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo. This article tells more of the great southward migration of Mormons from Salt Lake City and farther north to escape Johnson’s army, then marching on Utah. In Mr. Callahan’s story last week he told how this migration of refugees swelled Provo to a city of 30,000 people, probably a few more than its present population.)
May 8, 1858: “I was loading hay and unloading Los Angeles train of flour, etc.”
May 9, 1858: “Sunday. Elder John Taylor the Apostle, preached. At 2 p.m. E. T. Benson preached. A good time.”
May 11, 1858: “Unloaded Captain Ellsworth’s train of 35,000 pounds of flour. I was roofing tithing grain boxes.”
(Note: This may give us some idea as to how the grain was stored. W.H.C.)
May 12, 1858: “I received one bushel of Australian wheat from B. Young to sow.”
May 15, 1858: “Very busy locating the saints from city. I am so tired at nights that I can hardly sleep.”
May 18, 1818: “Visiting the wards and locating folks.”
May 20, 1858: “I unloaded 1,200 bushels of tithing wheat from general tithing office.”
May 21, 1858: “I went with President Young, H. C. Kimball and others to Spanish Fork City on a preaching tour. A good time. Returned at 6 p.m.”
May 23, 1858: “I was very busy in the Park Roe.”
(Note: It is not clear just where or what Park Roe was. W.H.C.)
May 27, 1858: “Went with President Young and others up to Provo Canyon. (Probably in search of grazing ground as the grass was getting short in the valley. W.H.C.) ‘This day I received 60,000 pounds of tithing grain.”
May 29, 1858: “Unloading grain. My health poor. Thousands of the people moving south. President Young went to Salt Lake City.”
May 30, 1858: “Sunday. The roads are crowded with the saints moving south. I spoke to the people. At 2 p.m. I received an express from President Young calling on me as Bishop for mules, etc.”
June 1, 1858: “All day raising the teams and receiving wheat, etc.”
Feeds 100 Men
June 4, 1858: “Very busy dealing out provisions to the public hands. I am feeding 100 men all hard at work.”
(Note: While Bishop Blackburn does not state at what the men were working, it seems safe to assume they were caring for the tremendous amount of wheat and flour arriving by wagon train daily to feed “refugees” from the impending arrival of Johnson’s army and prevent it from falling into the hands of the army. He mentions the arrival of ox teams loaded with grain early in April. From May 11 to 27 he specifically mentions 167,000 pounds. This equals more than eight car loads, and besides this he mentions several other wagon trains that he received. A wagon train would average about 90,000 pounds or 4 ½ car loads. Apparently it would require a lot of space to care for all this wheat and flour. W.H.C.)
June 5, 1857: “Sunday. A sermon by H. C. Kimball and President Young.”
June 10, 1857: “President Young and company went to great Salt Lake City. I was dealing out and unloading trains.”
June 12, 1858: “We learn that President Young is dictating the terms of peace to the men President Buchanan has sent out here. I have had interviews with them—Powell and MacCullock.”
(Note: The government had been persuaded to send a peace commission to Utah to arrange a settlement of the difficulties. The man appointed were Governor L. W. Powell of Kentucky and Major Ben McCullock of Texas. After peace terms were agreed upon in Salt Lake City, these men came to Provo June 15 where on June 16 they addressed an audience of about 4000 persons in the “bowry.” W.H.C.)
June 14, 1858: “President Young invited me to go up the canyon where they are making a road.”
June 17, 1858: “The best rain that I ever saw here in this month. Crops good.”
June 19, 1858: “Stormy.”
June 20, 1858: “Sunday. A sermon by President Young. A good time. Until Saturday, 27th, engaged in the duties of bishop.”
June 27, 1857 : “Dealing out provisions to public hands.”
July 1, 1858: “President Young called me to him and gave me instructions and the next day, July 2, he, President Young, called me to him about the same time and place as yesterday, and I felt a wonderful influence with him. The spirit and power of God. He told me: ‘What I told you to do yesterday, do not do it, as I am going home at 6 p.m. tonight.’ I was much overcome as the testimony of the spirit was that the Lord had been with him. I immediately went to Captain J. W. Loveless and called upon him to furnish his company to go with President Young home. I returned and had a good time with the president, and at 5 p.m. he blessed me and he and they took up their carriages, horses, and horsemen and returned to salt Lake City. Then the most of the people returned to their homes.”
(Note: It should be noted here that the U. S. army passed through great Salt Lake City June 26 and later moved on to establish Camp Floyd which was according to the terms of peace insisted upon by the church authorities. Then, and not until then did the saints return to their abondoned homes. W.H.C.)
July 2, 1858: “I had all my wheat ground and the flour boxed up ready to move south—enough to last my family 1 ½ years, when the Lord took the will for the deed and accepted the offering and the saints went back to their homes.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, February __, 1950, Provo in the 1850s
Invading Army Moves to Cedar Valley—And Bishop Blackburn Is Serenaded by Provo’s Band
(Editor’s Note: This is the18th in a series of articles written by William H. Callahan from the original diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo.)
July 15, 1858: “I was engaged in the office and managing President H. C. Kimball’s property, he having bought a number of houses and lots. President H. C. Kimball counselled me to move on to the east bench. We have had a wonderful deliverance from our enemies and a great display of the power of God in the deliverance of his people. The fiftieth part of my labor and doings I can’t write. Suffice it to say I was an active worker and saw many things done and said that would fill a volume. The Lord blessed me and I was able to pass through the great labor which I was called on to perform.”
July 24, 1858: “The army is in the valley. I and Snow got up a petition to the Governor, A. Cumming, calling on him to move the U. S. Army from the Cow Range about Salt Lake City, which he did by proclamation and the army went to Cedar Valley and called it Camp Floyd. There built a camp.”
(Note: The above statement seems to be new light on the movements of Johnsons Army, which we thought after a few days moved out to Cedar Valley, but here Bishop Blackburn says they were still in the valley on July 24th lacking just two days of a month after they passed through Salt Lake City.—W.H.C.)
August 1, 1858: “I am very busy taking care of the property that has been left here by President Young.”
August 7, 1858: “At storehouse dealing out provisions.”
August 9, 1858: “I have received about $1500 in currency or script in the last three days being called upon to call it in, which I did. Got it pretty near all on tithing and delivered it to President Young.”
August 11, 1858: “Fixing my house and arranging my family affairs.”
August 12, 1858: “From the 12th to September 1st was in the office receiving hay, grain, potatoes, etc., and loading teams to go back to Salt Lake City, and acting in the Bishop’s office. My wife, Nancy, is sick.”
September 1, 1858: “Bishop E. Hunter arrived at my house. I went early with Bishop Hunter to see his crop. My wife, Nancy, was confined, had a girl called her name Ellen Maria.”
September 5, 1858: “A hard wind storm, some rain. Big blow.”
September 12, 1858: “Held a teacher’s meeting. Gave them pointed instructions to visit all the people once a month. At 6 p.m. held meeting of our machine company. Agreed to build a mill.”
October 1, 1858: “Up to this date busy in the duties of my calling as Bishop, etc.”
October 16, 1858: “Regulating the mail that I have been caring for so long. R. C. Gibbons is getting tired of driving it.”
October 30, 1858: “received letter from President Young fixing up my express. The many letters from many persons I have not named in the record as well as thousands of other things.”
November 5, 1858: “I drew from Miller and Company $315 and at 6 p.m. turned over the said money to President Young as I was appointed by him as agent for the company.”
November 13, 1858, “Drove to conference in Salt Lake City. The conference cut off a great many persons.”
November 20, 1858: “In the office settling a difficulty between Brother and Sister Mecham. They wish a divorce.”
November 22, 1858: “I sent a load of wood to President Smith.”
November 23, 1858: “I commenced settling with the brethren on a . . .” (I imagine this settlement was the payment of men who worked on handling church grain, flour, etc.—W.H.C.)
December 1, 1858: “Up to this time settling, very busy.”
December 10, 1858: “Investigating divorce case against John Riggs and wife.”
December 20, 1858: “Brass band came and serenaded me and family. Stayed until 10 p.m. Happy time. Up to January 1, A. D. 1859 I was busy in Bishop’s office.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, February 26, 1850, Provo in the 1850s
Judge Cradlebaugh and 100 Soldiers Invade Provo, Set Up Anti-Mormon Federal Court
(Editor’s Note: This is the 19th in a series written by William H. Callahan from the original diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo. It tells of the coming to Provo of Federal Judge John Cradlebaugh, who bitterly hated Mormons and set up a federal court here in which, according to the best available records, a Mormon stood very little chance of getting justice.)
January 2, 1859: “Meeting testifying of the goodness of God.”
January 3, 1859 “Settling with the brethren and visiting the wards. Counselling the saints and providing for the poor.”
January 13, 1859: “I married Brother Jacob E. Terry and Sister Clarse Williams at 6 p.m. all (both) of Provo.”
January 16, 1859: “We hear many threats from Camp Floyd.”
January 19, 1859: “Drove to Salt Lake City. Carried a load of passengers to city. Went to the legislature at 6 p.m. the governor would not pay them any money. Had a good interview with President Young and Kimball.”
January 23, 1859: “President Smith came home with me.”
January 24, 1859: “I received word from President Kimball to see to and take charge of all his houses and lots and move his granary to my place, which I did.”
January 25, 1859: “This day Captain Jack finished my well pump. A good job. President George A. Smith visited me.”
5709 Yards of Cloth
January 27, 1859: “Loaded President Kimball’s teams with hay. The number of yards of homemade cloth for clothing made in the year 1858 was 5,709 yards in Provo.”
January 29, 1859: “Had an interview with President Smith. Rob Hogett made an acknowledgement to me for talking about me and stirring up falsehood. I sent R. C. Gibbons south to settle up my mail account. Received a letter from Salt Lake City. Letter from Bishop Lewis of Parowan City advised on bill of divorce, etc.”
January 30, 1859: “A very bitter spirit comes from Camp Floyd. Went to meeting. A sermon by President George A. Smith. We hear that Judge Cradlebaugh is coming to hold court here in Provo City. I dropped . . . Williams from being one of my counsellors for not attending to his duties, etc.”
Note: John Cradlebaugh was a federal appointee for territorial district judge, and should have opened court at Fillmore, but decided to come to Provo where he could have “military protection: from Camp Floyd. W.H.C.)
February 1, 1859: “Held Bishop’s Court. Decided a case between A. M. York and Thomas Hallett. In the office the balance of the day.”
February 2, 1859: “Loading wagons for Salt Lake City with produce. Until March 1, 1859 at the tithing office making out my tithing report and acting in the office of Bishop counselling some to go to California for goods, receiving calls, delivering to General Tithing Office my report, setting out peach trees on my lot. Very busy.”
March 1, 1859: “Plowing H. C. Kimball’s lots and setting out fruit trees for him. Continued until March 4th.”
March 5, 1859: “As cold a storm as we have had this past winter. Ground hard frozen.”
March 8, 1859: “I commenced boarding the lawyers, Blair, Stout, Long, and Kay. Judge Cradlebaugh’s court commenced its session. The Judge brought 100 soldiers with him. He, the judge, delivered an awful charge to the Grand Jury. I had an interview with President George A. Smith. Judge Cradlebaugh discharged the Grand Jury. Called them murderers, thieves, etc. A very wicked judge.”
March 20, 1859: “Governor A. Cumming came to Provo and sent for me. We had an interview at H. Redfield’s hotel. He said that the Government was sending troops to Provo and requested me to notify the people to that effect. I asked the Governor many questions and found out that it was the determination of those wicked judges and officers to do all they can to destroy us as a people. The U. S. Judge continued to hold court after dischaging the grand jury, and as fast as men would come to give evidence to him “in chambers” as he called it, he would put them under guard. Two were served this way without being privileged to give their evidence. Their names were Carns and McDonald. The rest including myself left for parts unknown.”
Note: Federal Associate Justice John Cradelbaugh set up court in Provo early in March, 1859 with an escort of 100 soldiers from Camp Floyd. The citizenry of Provo was outraged at this enroachment [sic] on their civil rights and made no effort to conceal their displeasure. As stated by Bishop Blackburn and by every other authority I can find, a Grand Jury was summoned and abused and insulted at the court’s first instruction and later discharged with more insults because they, the jurors, would not “go along” with the Judge in finding indictments against the brethren, with the final statement that they were a useless appendage to a Court of Justice. A petition was circulated and sent to Governor Cumming asking for the withdrawal of the troops. Governor Cumming, be it said to his credit, sided with the citizens, but General Johnston refused to acknowledge the civil authority of the Territorial Governor over his troops. The matter was finally carried to the federal government which upheld the Governor in his decision. As a result the troops were withdrawn and Cradlebaugh went with them fearing to hold his kind of court without military protection. The court was in session approximately a month, but the findings against Blackburn and the others was still a serious threat to them. W.H.C.)
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, March 5, 1950, Provo in the 1850s
Bishop Blackburn Comes Out of Hiding From Enemy Judge, Goes on Mission to England
(Editor’s Note: This is the 20th in a series of articles written by William H. Callahan from the diary of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo.)
NOTE: The next entry is September 1st. It appears Bishop Blackburn and others had been hiding in the mountains and elsewhere all summer long, apparently from fear of prosecution by the anti-Mormon Federal Judge Cradelbaugh—W.H.C.)
September 1, 1859: “This day the first (of September) President and Twelve held a council and decided that I and several other brethren should take a “roving misison” [sic] to the European saints to travel and bless them.”
September 12, 1859: “I received my letter of appointment stating I was called on a “roving mission” to England and to be in Salt Lake City on the 20th instant. Up ‘till the morning of the 20th I was turning over my Bishop’s business and arranging to start on my mission.” (It appears the man who took over the Bishop’s office from Bishop Elias H. Blackburn was his first counsellor, Edward W. Clark.) “A great labor. I bid goodbye to my family who was in tears and started to Salt Lake City, My wife, Nancy, accompanying me to the City.”
September 21, 1859: “In city. Received my blessing which was very good, (and I lived to see it fulfilled).”
September 22, 1859: “Left Salt Lake City. I took Brother Lilenquist and Lewis Bertrand in my light wagon and started, and at Little Mountain the mules became scared and turned my wagon over. I strained so hard that it gave me the inflamation in the eyes which lasted me all the way across the plains. I had a very hard time crossing the plains with sore eyes.”
October 18, 1859: “We arrived at the town of Omaha, Nebraska. We were only twenty-eight days crossing the plains. The missionaries names are: J. Gates, Milo Andrus, N. V. Jones, Lilenquist (sometimes spelled Lilljenquist), John Val Cott, Wm. Gibson, and E. H. Blackburn. Men of experience.”
October 21, 1859: “We took passage on river steamer for St. Jo, Missouri.”
October 24, 1859: “Landed at St. Jo. Took passage on the railroad for Boston, Massachusetts.”
October 28, 1859: “We landed in the town of Boston. Saw two fires which lighted up our room in the hotel. George Q. Cannon visited us there.”
November 1, 1859: “We took passage on board the steam ship Europa for Liverpool, England. I was a very little seasick, but not so bad as others of our company. A rough passage of thirteen days brought us to the Port of Liverpool feeling very grateful to the Lord for his mercies toward us in bringing us across the great deep and the plains. We bowed ourselves before the Lord in solemn prayer and thanked the Lord and asked him for his mercies to continue upon us.”
November 17, 1859: “Sunday. I preached in the town of Liverpool.”
November 18, 1859: “We bid adieu to each other, I going to Manchester and Nottingham, Gates to London, Andrus to Wales, Jones to Sheffield, Van Cott to Denmark.”
(NOTE: Bishop Blackburn gives us an account of his misisonary [sic] work in detail but for this story we can only hit the high places. Let it be said, however, that he worked as hard and was as active in the ministry in Europe as he was as Bishop of Provo, traveling over England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. He states they were the first Elders to arrive in Europe since the persecution in Utah (1857). June, 1860 finds him in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland, and in August he visited Belfast, Ireland. January 1, 1861 he was appointed to preside over the Norwich and Bedfordshire conferences which meant he would have to remain a year longer. While away, one of his children was born which lived to walk and talk and then died, and he never saw it. While in the mission he had close contact with George Q. Cannon and A. M. Lyman of the Council of Twelve.
Returns In 1862:
He was released March 1, 1862 and returned on the steamship Africa. On his return the ship encountered very heavy storms and the ship and passengers were given up for lost by the ship minister. The ship was driven off its cour[s]e 400 miles. On March 4, 1862 he landed in New York. It seems that Elias H. Blackburn and John Brown had been appointed by George Q. Cannon before they left England to proceed to New York, and to there act as agents for the Perpetual Emigration Fund of the Church and to arrange and contract for the transportation of immigrants from New York to Florence, Nebraska. Upon Elias H. Blackburn’s return to the United States, he found his beloved counrty [sic] in the midst of a civil war with excitement running high. He continues his story in the next installment.—W.H.C.
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, March 12, 1950.
Bishop Blackburn In Charge Of Transporting LDS Converts From New York City to Utah
(Editor’s Note: This is the 21st in a series on the life of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of Pioneer Provo, written from his diary by William H. Callahan. Bishop Blackburn has now returned from his mission to England and has been given the responsible post of arranging transportation for thousands of LDS converts from New York City, where they landed from Europe and the British Isles, westward to Utah.)
March 14, 1862: “This morning we had the beautiful sight of Long Island (this was before the statue of Liberty lifted her torch). At 10 a.m. landed and went through the disagreeable task of passing through customs house. At 4 p.m. telegraphed President Brigham Young at Salt Lake City. We changed our clothing for the latest New York fashions.”
(Note: Bishop Blackburn tells of hiring a large hall that would hold about 500 persons, and of conducting a number of successful meetings that were well attended. This as a side line while he was attending the immigration business for about three months. The hall was paid for from contributions collected at the meetings.—W.H.C.)
March 17, 1862: “This morning very busy in telegraph office. Had a visit from a number of railway agents about contracting. A number of agents met.”
March 18, 1862: “This day we closed the contract to carry our people with Darius Clark of Broadway. We drew up specifications. We agreed to put over his road 4,000 people. He, Mr. Clark, to have good coaches, cushion seats and no delay, and to carry our people to Florence, Nebraska, and we pay him the sum of $10 for ages over twelve years. Under twelve years called half passengers, etc. I closed this contract this day to the great chagrin of others, but those others had the same right to bid as Clark. This Mr. Clark proved himself a gentleman.”
March 19, 1862: “From this date to March 28th visiting and preaching and attending to correspondence which was considerable on immigration matters.”
March 28, 1862: “This morning met H. E. Eldredge from Salt Lake City. A happy meeting. The war is fierce in the south. Much blood shed. Half the people very near in New York are wearing mourning.”
March 31, 1862: “This morning my partner, Brown, started to Florence.” (Blackburn continued on in charge of immigration.—W.H.C.).
April 7, 1862: “Rumors of a great battle in the south.”
April 9, 1862: “today great excitement. Battle fought. A great many killed on both sides.”
(Note: This was without doubt the battle of Shiloh at which singularly enough General Albert Sidney Johnston of Utah fame fell mortally wounded.—W.H.C.).
April 12, 1862: “Received letter from President Cannon of Liverpool about our business at New York.”
April 21, 1862: “Myself and Brother Eldredge rented a house near the C— Garden for an office so as to be near the landing place of the saints.”
April 24, 1862: “Squared our account with George Q. Cannon. In the evening I deposited $500 in the bank of Riggs and Company. We bank all our money.”
May 1, 1862: “the war is raging in nearly all the south. Much blood shed bringing the Prophet Joseph Smith’s words to pass. From this time until the seventeenth of May, most of the time spent preaching, visiting and waiting for a ship to come in.”
May 17, 1862: “I am expecting the saints to arrive every hour. What’s the great delay? Perhaps contrary winds claim them.”
May 19, 1862: “in the immigration office. Received news from England.”
May 20, 1862: “In New York at 2 a.m. The long looked for ship Humboldt came in sight, anchoring off the Gardens. I took a boat, rowed out to her, went aboard of her. Found many sick. One woman’s leg broken, also fifteen sick. A very great mortality has been among the saints. They had 365 saints shipped at Copenhagen and 47 had died on the passage. These from Scandanavia. I got the saints off into the Cassel Gardens. Same evening I invited all to wash.”
May 21, 1862: “Seeing to the saints at the Gardens that all are cared for. Brother Hansen has been the president of the people across the ocean. Not very vigilant hence the great mortality. I sent fifteen sick to the hospital.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, March 19, 1950, page 5.
Bishop Blackburn Shepherds 360 Converts On First Leg Of Trip West to Utah Territory
(Editor’s Note: This is the 22nd in a series of articles written by William H. Callahan of Provo from the diary of Elias Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo. The bishop has left Utah and is in charge of getting LDS converts from New York to Utah.)
May 22, 1862: “Two of the saints died today in the Gardens. Very busy arranging for the saints to go west.”
May 23, 1862: “Very early I got my hands to work at the luggage. At 5 p.m. after much labor, got off the saints. Big job for we cannot understand their language. Sent them up the Hudson river. Very tired.”
May 24, 1862: “Answering correspondence, banking money. Wrote to Zion. On the lookout for ships.”
May 29, 1862: “The ship Franklin arrived from Hamburg with 360 of our people, 17 having died on the passage with measles.”
(Note: Church chronology reports ship Franklin sailed April 15 from Hamburg, Germany with 413 Scandinavian saints. Between 40 and 50 children died on board of measles.—W.H.C.)
May 30, 1862: “At 2 p.m. F. M. Lyman and Rich arrived from England, also John Van Cott. I met them at the docks. We could not land our people on account of sickness. They are recovering. Had an interview with the Twelve and a good time.”
May 31, 1862: “At New York fixing up to leave for Florence. Very busy all day with D. Clark of Broadway on contract. He, Clark, is filling his contract with us to the letter. At 1 p.m. I bid New York goodbye and took charge of 350 saints from Scandanavia. Steamed out of New York at 2 p.m. Run up the side of the Hudson river.”
June 1, 1862: “This morning found us in Albany. A child of eight years had died in the night on the train. I had it buried. Steamed out of Albany at 10 a.m. Traveled till evening to Syracuse. Had to stay overnight at that place.”
June 2, 1862: “Left New York State at 5 a.m. Steamed out. I bought 300 loaves of bread for the immigrants. I buy all their provisions at a very reduced rate so it is a great savings to the saints. At 3 p.m. we arrived at Niagra Falls. I had to check all our baggage, about 900 pieces, through the Queen’s Domain. A very saucy fellow at the station in charge gave me some trouble but when he found I was determined he gave way, and we had the right kind of cars.”
June 3, 1862: “We crossed Canada the balance of the day and night. Came across all right although a coupling broke endangering the lives of our people, but the Lord was merciful and saved us. At 3 p.m. came to Detroit, Michigan. At 4 p.m. made a good start. Saints feeling well. All sleeping in our cars at night.”
June 4, 1862: “At 10 a.m. came to Chicago. Had to lay over four hours. At 5 p.m. started and rode all night sleeping in the cars.”
June 5, 1862: “Moving at a good rate of speed. This morning the conductor said we would have to stop until evening. Just then the main train came up. I asked if he would hook me on. ‘Yes, if you will risk it.’ I replied I would. So away we went at a terrible rate. At 8 a small child died. We laid it out while train running. At 1 p.m. arrived at Quincy, Illinois. Then changed baggage on to the steam boat. Steamed down the river to the town of Hanable and got all on board of cars at sundown. Had to stay all night as they would not run across the State of Missouri in the night on account of the war.”
June 6, 1862: At 5 a.m. we steamed out. Rode over the State of Missouri, a distance of 200 miles.”
June 7, 1862: At St. Joseph. At 10 a.m. took steamboat and started up the Missouri river. The river was very high. Logs were running. Many snags. One of our company had the nosebleed very near death before I saw him, a boy fourteen years old. I stopped it by putting ice on his neck. Parents very thankful. We had to tie up the boat at nights the river so dangerous. I had great anxiety for the children. Our boat on the Missouri river so loaded and river so high I had continual fear lest some of the children would fall over-board. They would dabble their hands in the water so near was the water to come on deck.”
June 9, 1862: “We landed at the town of Florence, our destination at 10 a.m. Brother J. W. Young, Brown, and others came to meet us. A time of rejoicing that God had preserved us upon the sea, land and river and we have all landed her safely. Thanks to Him.”
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, March 26, 1850, page C-6
Bishop Blackburn Makes Ready For Cross-the-Plains Trek Of 5000 LDS Emigrants to Utah
(Editor’s Note: This is the 23rd in a series on the life of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo, written by William H. Callahan from the bishop’s diary. The bishop is now in charge of converts on their journey from New York to Utah.)
June 10, 1862: “I was very busy all day arranging matters for the saints. We were nine days coming from New York to this place. I bought all the provisions for the company and after carefully making the estimate I found that it had cost the company for each soul for the nine days, 56 cents each. So remarkably cheap that it astonished all, so much was saved by buying by the quantity.”
(Note: A great pity the bishop is not available to do a little quantity buying for us now.—W.H.C.)
June 11, 1862: “At Florence working very hard. Putting wagons together and loading heavy machinery. Tired.”
June 12, 1862: “I worked all day in storehouse. All the P. E. (perpetual emigration) Fund passengers, 3226, was assigned to my care. (Small wonder after a record of 2 cents per meal for nine days). I bought some flour and bacon, but the great majority was stored in the large storehouse ready to deal out to the saints. About 5000 souls are camped here waiting for the wagons to come from the valley to convey them to salt Lake City. Our camp presented a great city of tents. A wonderful sight. My time is wholly taken up. Very busy dealing out provisions to the saints as we furnish them and they pay the P. E. Fund as soon as they can after they arrive in the valleys or Salt Lake City, Utah.”
June 13, 1862: “I commenced to locate the saints in old houses. Working very hard. Weather very hot.”
(Note: These are likely houses that were vacated by saints in earlier migrations.—W.H.C.)
June 14, 1862: “Busy locating the saints and dealing out provisions to the saints.”
June 16, 1862: “At Florence all day in storehouse. I called a number of young sisters to make tents and wagon covers.”
June 17, 1862: “Ninety young sisters came to make tents and wagon covers. I counselled the saints (sisters) to be aware of the smooth tongued Gentiles as they had ruined a number of our young girls last year. The Gentiles would entice them away.”
June 18, 1862: “F. W. Young, J. Brown, are off in the settlement buying oxen for the plains.”
June 20, 1862: “Had the sisters who were working on the tents, etc., use a little harsh language to dampen the ardor of the Gentiles with the desired effect. They remained away.”
June 21, 1862: “In storehouse. About 90 sisters continued to make tents and wagon covers. A jolly company. Each day at work with needles.”
June 22, 1862: “From this date until July 1 in warehouse and supervising the sewing center.”
July 1, 1862: “I was appointed bishop of all the camps of Israel by Agent F. W. Young.”
(Note: As usual the bishop did not wait to see what would happen but began the next day to make things happen.—W.H.C.
Sickness In Camp
July 2, 1862: “I held meeting of all the English speaking saints. Spoke. Had good liberty. Good time. Some sickness in camp. I called on all to clean up about their camp and to keep their bodies clean. I promised them that if they would do those things and call mightily on the Lord, the mortality should stop.”
July 3, 1862: “I went among the camps and was glad to see the counsel of previous day complied with. Camps cleaned up and a general appearance of cleanliness and order.”
July 5, 1862: “The mortality of the camp began to cease and health began to prevail to the great joy of all us elders.”
(Note: It seems the bishop organized things pretty much as a ward is organized. Arranged mess, considering there was a population of 5000 speaking several languages. This in itself was quite a job.—W.H.C.)
July 10, 1862: “Today a company started for the valley. I am busy starting them. Fine weather. Grass good, and all seems to conspire to the good of the camp of Israel. Saints rejoicing.”
(Note: The work now consisted in receiving river freight (equipment for the plains) and in instructing the saints in the art of survival on the plains.—W.H.C.)
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, April 2, 1950.
Bishop Blackburn Gets His 5000 Converts Across Plains, Comes Home After 3 Years
(Editor’s Note: This is the 24th in a series on the life of Bishop Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo, written by William H. Callahan from the bishop’s diary.)
July 10, 1862: “I bought a load of bacon very cheap, $1.50 per hundred pounds.”
July 16, 1862: “I have 150 young women making tents and wagon covers.”
July 18, 1862: “About the 10th of this month we we experienced one of the greatest storms I ever saw. The lightning killed two men and stunned fourteen others. Brother J. W. Young was badly hurt. Is recovering.”
July 19, 1862: “Another wagon train started.”
July 21, 1862: “Held meeting. Much impatience as the summer is advancing. Another company started today.”
July 22, 1862: The bishop writes that due to pressing business he has little time to write so a very small part of what he did is recorded.
July 23, 1862: “Another train started.”
July 24, 1862: “Started John R. Murdock’s train. J. W. Young better. John Brown came in with a lot of cattle he had bought for immigrants.”
Works Night and Day
July 25, 1862: “Season far advanced. I am working night and day to get the immigrants started.”
(Note: From this time to August 4th working night and day getting companies started. Buying supplies, etc.)
August 4, 1862: “The steamboat arrived from St. Joseph with our long expected wagons. I put all hands to work setting them up and loading them.”
August 6, 1862: “At Florence setting up wagons, loading them. Started Captain Henry Mitters train. The last ox train today.”
August 7, 1862: “Men loading wagons. Bought 25 yoke of cattle today. From this date to the 15th very busy settling up the immigrants. Too tired to write much in this journal.”
August 15, 1862: “All the trains and saints are gone on their pilgrimage to the vallies. Florence looks desolate. None of our people here but us agents. Where two months ago there were over 5,000 souls — now a death like silence reigns.”
August 16, 1862: “at 10 a.m. we bid adieu to Florence. Pulled out. Stopped overnight at Omaha.”
August 18, 1862: “We started for Salt Lake City. Our company consists of us three agents, J. W. Young, John Brown, and E. H. Blackburn. Two of the Twelve, A. M. Lyman and C. C. Rich, their two sons, F. M. Lyman and J. C. Rich, Captain Wm. H. Hooper and H. S. Eldredge, nine in all.”
(Note: Elias H. Blackburn gives a day by day record of their travels, but this hardly seems necessary for our purposes. Perhaps we should note, however, that Bishop Blackburn has been acting as general agent for the Perpetual Emigrant fund now over five months since landing in New York, March 14, 1862. Traveling light they were able to overtake and pass most of the companies that had started out earlier. They arrived in Salt Lake City on September 16th after about thirty days on the road. The trip was without any particular incidents, except that as the bishop neared the home city he heard that his wife, Elizabeth had gone to her folks in California from whence she never returned. He spent a few days in Salt Lake City reporting to the Historians Office and he says, “Had the satisfaction to see my name placed on the “Book of the Law” of the Lord of Foreign Missions.”—W.H.C.)
September 18, 1862: “At 6 p.m. took passage in the mail coach—rode 48 miles to my home. Arrived at 5 p.m. Found my wives and children all well and glad to see me again at home.” (Note: He had been absent from home just three years lacking two days.—W.H.C.)
September 19, 1862: “At home in Provo receiving calls from many old friends.”
September 20, 1862: “At home. My orchard is loaded with peaches which contrasts strongly with camp life.”
September 21, 1862: “Sunday. I attended meeting at 10 a.m. Was called up and preached to the people. Many had come out to hear me. Had a very good time and much liberty to speak.”
September 23, 1862: From this date until October 1st, Elias H. Blackburn entered into Provo activities with a vim, drying peaches, visiting friends, and preaching. He states: “I found my financial affairs very bad having lost much property while away. My farm having been washed away and stones washed upon it so it is rendered unfit for cultivation. My crop is very light, very little wheat.”
October 5, 1862: In line with old routine, he started to general conference. Saw Brother Brigham and many old friends. After his return from conference on the 20th, he busied himself renovating and repairing his houses. About October 20th he mentions preparing to go south.
October 28, 1862: Finds Elias H. Blackburn and wife, Nancy, in Salt Lake City. While there he had an interview with President Young and reported his intention to move south. He reports: “He, President Young, wished me to go to Beaver and build a good home.”
October 29, 1862: “At 4 p.m. the train bringing my stove, etc,” that the saints gave me in Florence, came in.” Next day he took his wife, Nancy, his stove, and the team of oxen and started home, arriving the third day.
(Special Note: While on vacation last summer my wife and I and our son, Guy, and other Blackburn descendants, visited the old Blackburn ranch at Antelope Springs on that section of the mountain between Antimony in Piute county and Loa in Wayne county, locally known as Antelope. Here grandmother Nancy Blackburn spent many summers ranching. My wife through some urge to have something that her grandmother had possessed, gathered up some cast iron scraps from the remains of the old cook stove. Singularly enough the date cast in the stove is 1862, most likely the very stove mentioned above given Bishop Blackburn by the saints at Florence, Nebraska—W.H.C.)
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, April 9, 1950.
Bishop Blackburn Moves His Family and Affairs From Provo To Minersville, Beaver County
(Editor’s Note: This is the 25th in a series written by William H. Callahan on the life of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon Bishop of pioneer Provo. The history is taken direct from the diary of Bishop Blackburn.)
Bishop Blackburn tells of crossing Utah lake in Brother Madsen’s boat and working hard cutting cedars for firewood, and of loading about twelve cord of wood on the boat which Brother Madsen hauled back across the lake for him.—W.H.C.)
November 28, 1862: He writes: “I started my cattle to Beaver County—sons, Elias P. and Orson H. taking them. I walked three miles to see them started. Very dry and dusty.
November 30, 1862: “At 8 p.m. brother, Jehu, arrived from Beaver County. A joyous meeting after an absence of four years.”
(Note: This brother Jehu was one of the original settlers of Provo in recognition of which his name appears on the Pioneer Monument in Pioneer Park.—W.H.C.)
Start For Beaver
December 6, 1862: “At 8 a.m. my brother, Jehu, myself, wife, Sarah Jane (Goff) and three children, Sister Thrower and two children, all started for Beaver County. Very cold and dry weather.”
(Special Note: One of the children mentioned (they were both girls) belonging to Sister Thrower whose name was Lydia, is the mother of Milton and President Walter Holdaway of Vineyard. Elmer now deceased and Edna Holdaway Bentwet of Provo, and Leland K. Holdaway of Heber City. The other daughter, Rachel, married George Marshall of Minersville. Another daughter, Leah, remained in England and married Samuel Pyne, then imigrated to Utah in 1872 and is the mother of the large Pyne family.—W.H.C.)
December 12, 1862: “Arrived at Minersville (Beaver county) after a cold uneventful trip.” (He, the bishop, built a rough ranch house for the family and returned to Provo.—W.H.C.)
Arrives In Provo
December 26, 1862: “On the 26th arrived home. Found my wife, Nancy, and children all well. Found that worthy sister, V. L. Crompton, at our house.”
(From this date until January 28th, Elias H. Blackburn was in Provo visiting friends, attending dancing parties and having himself a good time.—W.H.C.)
January 28, 1863: “This morning I took Sister Virtue Leah Crompton in the stage coach to Salt Lake City.”
January 28, 1863: “At city.”
January 31, 1863: “I took Sister Virtue Leah Crompton through the Endowment House and she was sealed to me as my wife for time and all eternity. A good saint and wife so she has proved to be to me.”
April 1, 1863: “About this time I loaded up my wagon and took my wives, Nancy and Virtue Leah, and started for Beaver County leaving wife, Hannah (Haws) at Provo.”
(Special Note: This is the last we see of Bishop Elias H. Blackburn as an active participant in the affairs of Provo and Utah County. When the curtain raises again the scene will have changed and as a natural sequence many of the followers of these articles will find less interesting the Bishop’s doing in a less familiar setting. For this reason only the highlights in his life from here on will be mentioned although his activity in Church and secular affairs is by no means diminished.—W.H.C.)
(About April 10th they arrived in Minersville where, as Bishop Blackburn states, they felt the hard hand of poverty where they had to begin life anew due to the financial loss of more than $2,000 sustained while he was on his mission. He says: “We didn’t see a dollar in cash in months.” Here he took up the business of doctoring both man and beast as a part time employment.
January, 1866 he writes: “Doctoring the sick. The Lord has so blessed me with the gift of knowing how and what to do for the sick that a portion of my time is among the sick.”
(In 1866 he was elected Selectman of Beaver County, a position he held for 11 years. In church affairs he was apponted superintendent of Sunday school, a position he held for 10 years giving unstinted services to that cause. By diligent labor and intelligent application of the same, he was able to thresh the largest wheat crop raised in Beaver county in the year 1867, a total of 1400 bushel besides 30 acres of corn.—W.H.C.)
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Sunday Herald, Sunday, April 15, 1950.
Bishop Blackburn Spends Last Years As Healer in Beaver County, and Dies at 80
(Editor’s Note: With this 26th and final installment, we bring to a close the life and deeds of Elias H. Blackburn, first Mormon bishop of pioneer Provo and one of early Utah’s great men. To the writer of the series, William H. Calahan of Provo, the Daily Herald and its readers owe a sincere debt of gratitude. Mr. Callahan compiled and write the series directly from Bishop Blackburn’s original diary. He took a personal interest in the job because, as he points out in this article, he knew Bishop Blackburn personally the last 10 years of the latter’s life. Mr. Calahan describes him as a big, powerful man, at least six feet tall, and “straight as a pole” almost up to the day he died.
One has a feeling Bishop Blackburn was a modest and practical man, and that only a part of his deeds were recorded in his diary. Indeed, one gets the feeling that the greatest things were left unsaid, and must be read between the lines. But Mr. Callahan’s painstaking and excellent compilation of the record he did leave is a great service to the people of Utah.)
April 1, 1870. “Called by George A. Smith to be a member of the school of the Prophets.”
As soon as providence smiled again it was the practice of Bishop Blackburn to journey to Salt Lake City at conference time to attend conference, renew old friendships, and buy the years supplies for the family at “Zion’s Co-op.”
In 1871 he finished a good brick house 30 by 30. The answer to President Young’s request to build a good home in Beaver County.”
January 1, 1875 he mentions for the first time healing cancers. He says: “My success as a doctor among the people is wonderful. Many come to me with their cancers to be cured. A gift of faith.” After 1875 most of his time was taken up in doctoring and in church affairs although he continued to farm and to work in civic affairs.
Brigham Young Dies
September, 1877, he writes: “This month President Brigham Young died after a long useful life having led the saints from __ith great success.”
May, 1879: On account of water shortage in Minersville he moved to Freemont valley, commonly called Rabbit valley resigning his positions of superintendent of Sunday schools, selectman, and home missionary. At that time Rabbit valley was in Piute county and within three months Elias H. Blackburn was appointed selectman of Piute county.
February, 1880: Elias H. Blackburn was appointed Bishop of Freemont valley, of all people east of the mountain (Fish Lake Range). He took charge Feb. 25 with Franklin W. Young as first councelor. His ward was 14 miles long and much scattered.
June 1, 1880. “Apostle Erastus Snow designated a townsite for the people.”
June 15, 1880: With his usual vigor, Elias H. Blackburn, with the help of others, laid out and surveyed the town in three days. This was the town of Loa.
August, 1881: Elected to the __th Legislature as Representative from Beaver and Puite counties.” Special Note: The following incident gives an idea of the kind of services E. H. Blackburn was called on to do and the way he responded. In January, 1884 a son of Isaac Riddle, 11 years old, was driving home from Loa to Escalante. “The horses took fright in Grass Valley. Ran away. Pulled the boy out of the wagon. Horses kicked him, broke the thigh bone and both bones in the leg below the knee. I was sent for and Brother Jay Thurber and I rode over (from Loa to Grass Valley elevation about 9,000 feet, temperature sub-zero). In the latter part of the night much snow, awful cold. We arrived at Greenwich, Grass Valley where the boy was. A horrible sight met my eyes. From the loss of much blood the boy could not speak. I administered to him then waited a few minutes, then set all three of the bones; a mangled leg all mashed. The Lord blessed me again and by his help I got a good set on his leg. I saw the boy twice afterwards the next two weeks and in March following when I had the pleasure of seeing the boy all right running around all well.”
Brought in Court
In 1889 Elias H. Blackburn was brought before the Grand Jury on a charge of polygamy, by then against the law, and plead guilty. He then appeared before Judge Anderson of the Second Judicial district at Beaver for judgement. He presented to the Court a petition signed by almost 600 persons praying the Judge to mitigate the sentence as Elias H. Blackburn was the only source of medical help within a radius of 30 miles and that his services were indispensable to the people. The Judge was impressed. Elias H. Blackburn was fined $300 and costs which he paid, and allowed to return home to continue his ministry and ministering among the people.
On May 29, 1889 Elias H. Blackburn was ordained a Patriarch and appointed to labor in the Sevier Stak[e] of Zion and also in other stakes. From this time and until the time of his death he was familiarly and respectfully spoken of as Patriarch Blackburn. He was now almost 62 years of age and from this time forward his work and life followed a fairly regular pattern. He traveled over a good part of southern Utah giving patriarchial blessings, administering to the sick, advising and counciling the people, and doing good where he could.
Hundreds of people came to him and brought their sick, especially cancers, tumors, goitre, and whatever was considered incureable. Not all but many cancers were healed and many testimonies are on record to this effect. His only technique was annointing with consecrated oil, the laying on of hands, and the prayer of faith. To himself he took no credit. When a cure was effected he felt that he had been blessed equally with the one being healed in that he had been the Lord’s instrument in doing good. He truly wrestled with the Lord and such faith as his could not be denied. In this I am not speaking as a stranger for I knew him intimately for the last 10 years of his life, and such works are not hidden under a bushel. It was a rare occasion when he missed general conference. On these occasions he saw and blessed many people.
He died April 6, 1908, at the age of 80. Mourned by the entire community. His was the largest funeral ever held in Loa and there has not been one like him since.
First Provo Bishop
This is Bishop Elias H. Blackburn, a pen sketch drawn from a portrait by William H. Callahan, writer of this series on his life which concludes in this issue. Mr. Callahan describes him as a tall (at least six feet) powerful man, noted for his erect posture.
* * *
Taken from his Diary.
Immediate family of Elias Hicks Blackburn
His Father …Thomas Blackburn
His Mother …Elizabeth Bone Blackburn
Brothers and Sisters … Eliza Blackburn
“ “ “ … Anthony Blackburn
“ “ “ … Mary Blackburn
“ “ “ … Johnathan Blackburn
“ “ “ … Rebecca Blackburn
“ “ “ … Rachael Blackburn
“ “ “ … Jehu Blackburn
“ “ “ … Annie Blackburn
“ “ “ … Abner Blackburn
Sarah Jane Goff Blackburn … 7 children
Nancy Phipps Lane Blackburn … 13 children
Elizabeth Hales Blackburn … 3 children
Hannah Haws Blackburn … 4 children
Virtue Leah Crompton Blackburn … 12 children
Original spelling maintained.
Typed copy made by Virginia Blackburn Burgess, 6/2010