John Crowther History
Colaborador: ladybug1954 Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
John Crowther was christened at St. Leonard's Parish in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England, the town where his father Matthias had grown up. When John was four, his father died and the family moved to Staffordshire, his mother's birthplace. In the 1851 Sedgley, Staffordshire, census John is reported living with his older brother Joseph and his wife Mary Ann on Catchem's Corner in Ettingshall, Sedgley, Staffordshire. The occupation of both John and Joseph was that of engineer. John was 17 and said he was born in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. His future wife Mary Jackson also lived on Catchem's Corner.
Shortly after their marriage John moved with Mary to Wolverhampton, where he worked as an engineer driver. After their son Joseph was born on California Dudley Road in Ettingshall in 1855, the family then moved to Aston, near Birmingham in Warwickshire, a distance of about 10 miles. John was an engineer for Wolverhampton City's waterworks plant. The Wolverhampton Water Works is located in Albrighton Parish, a village eight miles northwest of Wolverhampton, 11 miles northeast from Bridgnorth.
In 1862 John heard of the Mormons. He joined the Church and became branch president at Goldthorn Hill from 1862 to 1864. On April 15, 1864, John and Mary received notice that they would have passage to America on the ship Monarch of the Sea. At the time they were living on 6 Ward Street in Wolverhampton. Early in the summer of 1864 John gave up his employment and home as the manager of the city waterworks to his brother Joseph and took his family to America with 974 saints led by Patriarch John Smith. They left Liverpool April 28, 1864, with six children and one on the way. After six long weeks of measles and sailing, they landed at Castle Gardens, New York, on June 3, 1864. John paid his way for the journey to the West with his wife and six sons by driving a freight wagon. On the way westward they lost their son George in Chicago and their son Johnny at the head of Echo Canyon. After they reached Coalville, Henry and William died of mountain fever. Their tiny daughter Mary lived only a short time and then was laid beside her brothers, leaving of all the siblings only Joseph and Edward.
In 1865 John and his son Joseph found work as engineers at a gold mine in Helena, Montana, while Mary stayed in Castle Rock and Edward in Echo. John eventually saved the money to send for Mary and Edward. In Helena in 1867 Mary died of complications from a cold at only 35 years of age. John and his two sons Joseph and Edward then joined a company that built a flat-bottomed boat 40 feet long and six feet wide to float on the Missouri River to Omaha. Along the way they hunted antelope and deer and ate plums and wild grapes. Leaving the boys in St. Joseph, Missouri, for schooling, John worked his way back to Coalville railroading. He helped the Union Pacific and Central Pacific built a road across the continent. The boys and he finally reunited in 1868 on the bridge over the Weber River.
John left his sons in Hooper in order to work at a coal mine on the right bank of the Bear River in Almy, Wyoming, about five miles north of Evanston. He was running an engine that hoisted the coal from the mine. Joseph and Edward joined him that fall. On the advice of a friend, on Jan. 1, 1870, John married Elizabeth L. Gordon, a widow who had recently come from London with her son and widowed mother. In 1873 John was ordained a high priest by W. Budge and became branch president in 1875. The entire family lived in Almy for 6.5 years, saving enough money to buy a gristmill at Laketown along with Samuel Pike and Nathaniel M. Hodges. The Crowthers moved to Laketown, where they lived for some time with the Nehemiah Weston family. In 1877 the first ward of Laketown was created as part of the new Bear Lake Stake. John was a counselor to Ira Nebeker in the first Laketown bishopric.
When the building of the Logan Temple commenced, John and his sons donated a month to six weeks of sawing at the Temple Fork Sawmill in Logan Canyon, providing lumber for the temple. They walked there from Laketown in deep snow. They must have hiked from Meadowville up over the summit between Rich and Cache counties and down to Temple Forks as the Logan Canyon road did not stay open year-round until 1939. The Temple Sawmill ran for over nine years, producing lumber, pickets, lath, and other products used not only for the Logan Temple and Tabernacle but also in private homes, barns, railroads, and fences. In order to supply the sawmill with a constant flow of laborers the Church required its congregations in the Cache and Bear Lake valleys to send a certain number of men to work on the temple and at the sawmill. Despite the difficulties of travel many men made the long, often treacherous journey through the canyon as part of their church and community obligations.
In Logan Temple: the First 100 Years, Nolan P. Olsen wrote: "On March 17, 1882, a call went to Bear Lake for all hands who lived there to report to the sawmill. At Meadowville they set out on snowshoes the distance of about 12 miles over the summit. Charles O. Card joked: 'I just received a telegram that 10 or 12 good men would return with our temple team. You will please get the boys to hold you while you shout for joy and hurrah for Bear Lake!'"
J. L. Montrose told of a John Crowther and his two sons Ed and Joseph who worked out a six-week donation at the Temple Fork Sawmill while living at Laketown, a small town adjacent to Bear Lake, approximately 22 miles from the mill site. He said, "Evidently they did this donation during the period when their farm labor and other home jobs were restricted by the winter season. These men walked from Laketown to the mill site in deep snow all winter long, returning to their homes every so often due to recurring jobs at their home."
John's son Edward corroborated this account in his own history: "This same fall (1878) the building of the Logan Temple was commenced. Father, my brother Joe, and I were called upon to donate a month or six weeks sawing at what was known as the Temple Mill, which was located up the Temple Forks six miles from the Logan River. As we were going from Laketown to the Temple Mill, night overtook us and we couldn't see our way. We decided to camp over in a clump of trees. Here we made a fire and sat by it till morning. Owing to the depth of snow which we had to wallow through, it took us till noon next day to reach the mill."
In 1880 he bought an interest in a sawmill located on the summit between Bear Lake and Cache counties and ran it with Nathaniel Hodges. The sawmill was between Meadowville and the summit, and the area became known as Hodge's Canyon. John and his sons sold out to Hodges in the spring of 1888 and moved to Logan, where they engaged in logging and operated sawmills until 1904. Initially they worked for the United Order Manufacturing and Building Company, sawing lumber. While Edward was serving a mission to the southern states, John and Joseph bought the Old Maughan Mill, 25 miles from Logan. It prospered a while till a depression hit and all was lost, including John's home just north of the Logan River. Over the years they set up operations at six different sites, none of which proved satisfactory, leaving roads, slides, and developments as a witness of their great effort. Financially the mills were extremely costly, and twice they went broke. In 1903 Logan City offered to pay $4,500 for the water power site at the Thomas "X" location, where the Crowthers were currently struggling to survive; they accepted. John's son Edward took his share of the money and bought the flour mill in Laketown Mill Canyon from Nathaniel Hodges.
John had bought a piece of land a half block east of the temple. With his own hands he dug out the basement and built it of concrete up to the ground floor. Above ground the home was of wood, making four rooms above the basement. In his garden he planted grape vines; peach, pear, and apple trees; currants; and gooseberries. After the Logan Temple was finished and dedicated in May of 1884, the authorities chose John to be the engineer of the building. He maintained the steam boiler that warmed the rooms. He also assisted in the ordinance work during the summer when little or no heat was needed while his wife Elizabeth also served as an ordinance worker.
In his patriarchal blessing given June 27, 1885, by O.N. Liljenquist, John received the promise that inasmuch as he would listen to the still, small voice within, he would stand as the head of a numerous posterity and have power to lead them, and they would "become a mighty host through the Millennium." The blessing continued: "They shall labor for the redemption of your dead, and you shall superintend this great work under the direction of the Great Redeemer. It will be your privilege to live upon the earth at the coming of the Son of Man and be numbered among your brethren in redeeming Zion."
In 1901 John wrote to his sister Ellen in England: "I have never regretted leaving my native land and coming to this country. I left for my religion to come here and live with the people of my own faith. And now, dear sister, I wish you a good night, and may God, our Heavenly Father, bless you, and if we do not see each other again in the flesh, we shall meet again in the great beyond. Your loving brother, John Crowther."
John served as the temple engineer until he fell from a ladder in the boiler room and suffered injuries that resulted in his death. Elizabeth and he passed away just two weeks apart in 1908. John's son Joseph took his father's place as the temple engineer.