Autobiography of Henry Petty Dotson
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Posted to http://beyondthehome.blogspot.com/search/label/Dotson by Hillary Steckler on April 22, 2012
This detailed memoir was written by Henry Petty Dotson (often referred to as H. P. Dotson). It contains detailed information about his own life and the lives of family members. The notes in parenthesis were added more recently by some other member of the Dotson family and include references to what is now known about the dates and location addressed. The introduction to the piece reads, “From a History of One Branch of the Dodson-Dotson Family written by H. P. Dotson in 1909, at which time he was 86 years of age.”
My paternal grandfather, Elisha Dotson (Dodson), was from Virginia. He married a Miss Rachel Henry, a relative of Patrick Henry, about the middle of the 17th century (ca 1777) and moved from Virginia and lived for a few years on or near the Holston River in the southeast part of Kentucky (current atlas has the Holston river in southwest Virginia running through the city of Holston, into Tennessee near Kingsport and on to Knoxville). He was a Baptist clergyman. My father, Reuben Dotson, was born October 6th, 1781. About the beginning of the 18th century, grandfather moved to Williamson county, Tennessee and lived with my father for a few years, six miles east of Franklin, the county seat of that county. About 1826, grandfather Dotson moved with his wife to an adjoining County (probably Maury Co.) where they died two years or so afterwards. I was then about five years old and remember them well. My maternal grandfather, Garner McConnico, was also a Virginian and was one of the most prominent clergymen of his day. Both he and grandfather Dotson were what is still known as Primitive Baptists, whose names appear in Benedist's History of Baptists, a standard work of that day, now in 1909 out of print. Grandfather McConnico married in Virginia to a Miss Pollie Walker and moved to Williamson county, Tenn. about the same time grandfather Dotson did. At that date that part of Tenn. was just being settled by imigrants from the older states and the Indians were sometimes troublesome and many were the tales of horror I often heard mother recite. Sometimes whole families were butchered by them. Often a man was shot down while at work in the field and woe to the family at the home. Men always carried their firearms to the field as they never knew when a lurking Indian was around. At church or any other gathering every man took his gun and pickets were sharp on the lookout to prevent a surprise and avert a massacre. The people of this generation can form but a faint idea of those troublesome times.
My father, Reuben Dotson, married Nancy McConnico in Williamson county, Tenn. in 1805 and lived for a few years about ten miles east of Franklin. Here the following children were born: Mary H. Dec. 25, 1806, Garner H. Aug. 30th, 1808, James M. Dec. 5th, 1809, William W. April 7th, 1812, Garner M. May 5th, 1814, Tabitha T. Sep. 3, 1816, Christopher L. Nov. 20th, 1818, Adeline T. Dec. 12, 1820, Henry Petty July 15, 1823 (author of this article). This brings my narrative down to my birth, and while I was yet too young to remember anything, my father moved to another place six miles east of Franklin. At a very early age, perhaps not more than three years old, my memory goes back and I seem to live over again the scenes of my childhood. The dwelling was on a hill with five springs of pure water at its base. To the east, in my minds eye I can see my playground where happy childhood (words appear to be missing here) with brothers and little negros romp from place to place in childish glee. At the foot of the hill father built a still house, just below the spring and a few yards away he built a mill to furnish meal for making whiskey. I began to be old enough to drive oxen around in the mill and many days I was thus employed. When my services were no longer required there I would dodge out at every opportunity to keep from being put to other work. The land in that part of Tennessee was very fertile and the crops suitable to the climate were abundant. At any time during the year a fat shoal could be killed for fresh eating. Pumpkins were planted all over the cornfields and numerous loads of them were housed for winter feed for the stock. At that date every farmer of note had his still house and whiskey brandy were put on the market for revenue, as well as tobacco. At that tender age I was rather timit and extremely bashful. Among the incidents of my childhood that made such an impression was the death of William W. in his 18th year. He died of what was then called winter fever. About the same time, Tildy, a negro woman died with the same disease. Often I followed this brother, Garner and Christopher in their sports with bow and arrow. William's death created a sadness in the family hard to bear. My oldest brother, James H., had now arrived to manhood and he was given the privilege to make the younger children mind and do his bidding. I feared him more than I did father and mother. The first crop he made for himself he made me carry water to hi in the field in a half gallon pot. His field was perhaps a quarter of a mile from the spring and when I would get it to him with the water he would drink it all and start me on another trip for more. This kept me on the go nearly all the time. I got tired of this and as I had to go to the still house spring for it, I asked I asked the stiller to clean the slop piggin as it would hold three of four times as much water and I would take that to him and I would have some time to rest. The stiller, Tom, said "No, Marse James won't drink water outer that piggen", but I thought he would so I got him to clean it up and carried it as full as I could which was a ticklish job as it had no bales on it. When I got to him with it and handed it to him, he looked daggers at me and asked "what did you bring that for?" I made some excuse, I don't know what. He looked at me for a moment and then dashed the water all over me and said "Now go and bring water in the gallon pot". I went glad to get out of sight.
In those days it was customary at harvest time to invite the neighbors in to a reaping when the grain was ready to cut. On one occasion a number of reapers were in the field and I was left in a nice Sycamore grove to guard the water and a bottle of brandy till the men would come in for water, a dram and to rest a while. Og course I got a dram when themen did. It tasted pretty good. After the men had gone back to work I climbed up in one of the sycamore saplings and began to sing an old song I had often heard the negros sing, something like this, "In the mansions above, &". After I had been up in the sapling for s short time I said to myself, I will go down and get another dram" and again I did the same thing saying to myself "This will be the last". So down I went and took a pretty good swig. I saw the bottle was lowered considerably and to hide it I filled the bottle with water to make it as full as it had been. I mounted my perch again. I began to sing with a pretty thick tongue. The men who were not very far away heard me and soon came to the grove. My father ordered me down. I was fast losing consciousness and about when I got in reach of the men some one of them took me in his arms and gently lifted me down. I was now past all consciousness and knew nothing till the next day. For a long time after that I couldn't bear even the sight of liquor.
The student of history will remember something of the career of John A. Murril, the great Lanf Pirate whose operations embraced a few years beginning about 1827 or 1828. While I do not remember ever seeing him I remember vividly his accomplice, Daniel Crenshaw. Up to that time of their manhood they stood fair as the average man of that day. They were both residents of Wiliamson county. My father often saw them as other young men. My father hired Mr. Crenshaw to make the running gear of the mill spoken above. When Crenshaw had finished his job on the mill he disappeared and a fine young horse and bridle and saddle intended for my bother also disappeared and was never recovered. My father, a year or two after this began to make plans to move to Alabama and sent brother Christopher to a part of the county called Turnbull to get iron for wagon tires. I went with him. Billie Davis who married my older sister (Mary H.) lived there and I remember we crossed a small stream ten times on the route, which is an indication of the roughness of that part of the county. My father had sixteen negroes, old and young. Three of them were men who had wives and not wishing to separate them from their wives, sold Hardy to a Mr. Boyd, Isaac to a Mr. Cole, and Tom to a Mr. Warren who carried Tom to southern Mississippi even before father got ready to move. This shows the difference between men as to human kindness. Hardy, being my father's oxen driver was retained to drive his ox team to Alabama. He sold his homestead to a brother of my mother's, Garner McConnico.
Having secured about one hundred head of meat hogs and all being ready, a start was made near the last of Dec. 1830. The hogs were driven while the family moved making about fifteen or twenty miles per day. No incident of note on the route so far as I remember till we reached Columbia on Duck River, over which was a toll bridge. Here the tollsman wanted so much toll for each hog and father considered it so unreasonable that he refused to pay it. Stationing himself on this side of the river he told the hog driver to drive them down to the water's edge. Then he began to call them and the whole herd swam over. Not a hog was missing to the surprise especially of the toll keeper. We reached Florence, Ala. on the Tennessee river on Christmas eve, crossed over on a house boat and camped on this side. On the fall before, my future wife (Mahala Adeline Weeks) then a babe in her mother's arms, passed Florence on a Flat Boat destined for a home in Miss. In due time we arrived at our destination twelve miles south of Columbus, Miss. in Pickens County, Ala., half a mile east of the Mississippi state line and about four miles from a village on the Tombigby river known as Young's Bluff, and afterwards called Nashville. On the 13th of Feb. 1833 a new brother came into the family that weighed twelve pounds and he was given the name of William Lazarus Hardiman (Dotson). On the night of Nov. 13th, one of the most wonderful displays of shooting meteors we ever saw occurred (Encyclopedia Britannica refers to it as, "the great meteor shower of 12 Nov 1833"). While still living on this place Major Warren brought Tom, one of the negro men father sold in Tenn. to keep from separating him from his wife. But Major Warren dealt with negroes as so many cattle.
While yet in Tennessee small coins were called four pence, nine pence or two or three pence, here it was called Pickmam (?) , bit and so on. This sounded strange to us, but the most astonishing thing to small children and even to grown negro women was the cry of the Whipporwill at night and they kept close lest one of these Whipporwills might whip them. We could hear all sorts of hobgoblin stories and those with the shrill cry of the Whipporwill, kept us indoors till we learned better. In the Fall of 1834 the family moved to another place half a mile away which was bought of Dr. Polman. On this place was a fine peach orchard and a fine body of creek bottom land Kingkaid (Kincaide) Creek. On this creek my father and UNCLE LAZARUS DOTSON built a mill. Here some half dozen of us boys would stroll of a Sunday morning to go in bathing and other sports. One Sunday morning we had gone to the mill and about ten o'clock I discovered the water in the mill pond didn't look right. It seemed to be in a quiver and I called the attention of the other boys to it. But the oldest one of them made light of it and went on with their sport. I stood watching it and looking at other objects nothing looked right. Filled with apprehension of something unusual, I knew not what, I made for home as fast as I could go. When I got in sight of home I saw all the family who were at home standing in the yard gazing at the sun which was now about half round. I had never heard of such a thing before, really thought the end of time was at hand. Stars began to be seen in the sky, cattle to show signs of distress and fowls to go to roost. By this time the boys I had left at the mill had geared four of themselves with Pawpaw bark to a truck wagon with one of their number as a driver, had got about half way home and seeing it was getting dark in daytime became so frightened that they took no time to ungear and came pellmell up the lane about as badly scared as boys ever get. The sun was now completely covered and only a dark spot was seen, instead of a bright noonday sun.
In the same year, 1835, while working in my little patch one Saturday morning the sky was murky and I could look at the sun. I saw what looked like a buzzard flying across his disk. I stood gazing at it for some time seeing it did not get off I soon went to the house and reported it. I had never heard of such a thing before and this occurring after that total eclipse, we knew not what to expect next. I was then about 12 years old and after I arrived at manhood I had a desire to consult works on astronomy and I learned from a work called Geography of the Heavens that a spot on the sun that can be seen by the naked eye cannot be less than 50,000 miles in diameter, an area many times larger than the earth.
(handwritten on margin: "Notes of Henry W. ancestors: Incidentally, I have Henry W. Dotson-marriage to Martha Hall George in Columbus, Miss.-1831. They moved to Miss. between 1840-42 as Mamia's mother Louisa Euporia was born in Miss. in 1842 the first child to her born there. So you can figure out when Nancy died." Believe notes referred to Lazurus' son, Henry Washington Dotson, 1806-1883. LDS ancestral file has his marriage to Martha George 21 Oct 1830, Pickens Co., AL. Their daughter, Louisa Eugenia was shown as born 13 Dec 1840, Columbus, Loundes Co., MS.)
An incident that cast a gloom over the whole family a younger brother by the name of Reuben Lafayette Jackson (Dotson) was my daily playmate and the fall of that year, 1835, in cotton picking time, one evening perhaps two or three hours before night he took his basket of cotton to the cotton house in the yard, which was not over fifty yards from the house. As he did not come back to the field and no one at the house had seen him we began to hunt for him. After all had come in I went into the cotton house and saw his legs sticking out and the cotton all leveled off around him. My father and brother Garner were outside standing at the door. When I told them what I saw they both got in and pulled him out and he was dead. Language fails me to tell my sorrow. And for a long time afterwards it seemed my life was a blank and I could not smile again. Though this sad event occurred 70 years ago a tinge of sadness is (unreadable) when any circumstance calls it up.
The mill spoken of above was accidentally burned and my father then sold his interest in it and began preparations to leave to Mississippi. He entered 160 acres of land in the N.E. corner of Attala county about 20 miles north of Kosciusko and about four miles from the Historical village of French Camp. He took a couple of Negros there and opened up a farm in 1836. The white family remained in Alabama and I, with with smaller members of the family made a corn crop. The latter part of that year, the whole family moved to our new home and I found the whole forest full of game. Deer, turkeys, wolves, wildcats and an occcasional bear. Two species of birds we had never seen before were plentiful Parocueets, a beautiful species of Parrot, were often seen in droves. At night they roosted by hanging themselves by their crooked bills over a limb. They had a peculiar squall. Another species called Ivory Bills for want of a name. On the approach of fowl weather they uttered a squeal that could be heard half a mile away. When the country began to be settled up both these birds disappeared from this part of the state. I saw them in (the) Mississippi bottom during the civil war in 1864. From 1832 to several years after an occasional indian could be seen around but they proved harmless. It was said to be a boast among them that they never shed a white man's blood. Game was so plentiful that it could be seen at any time in any direction when out in the forest. One of my greatest pleasures was hunting and many a turkey gobler I brought in during the spring season. But I was never an expert in killing deer.
About every four years my oldest brother (James M.) who remained in Tennessee after my father moved from there paid us a visit. And when in my 17th year I was permitted to go home with him. At that day there was no rail roads and the trip was made by horseback. It was in the fall of 1840 that we made a start from father's home in Attala county, Miss. and in due time reached brother Garner's in Pickens county, Alabama. After resting a day or two, we made a start for brother James' home in Tenn. The trip was one of pleasure to me. This was on the eve of the of the presidential election of Harrison who was a Whig. On our route, at almost every village or place of note, flags were hoisted on poles by Democrats and Whigs. And Politics ran so high that each party tried to raise the highest pole. After 7 or 8 days we reached brother's home and I soon became familiar with new scenes and new friends. After a time I started to school but the teacher, a scotchman, while perhaps a firm scholar was a poor teacher and hence his school was to a degree a failure. During Xmas holidays there was a party every night through the neighborhood and at every place a ball was given. And nearly the whole night was spent in such festivities. At my age, 17, these festivities were a treat to me. After being there till the next spring, I began to be homesick. Little incidents not necessary to mention only intensified my desire to return home to my father's house. In the early spring I made the trip. It was a lonesome trip but I made it without any mishaps, arriving at brother Garner's in due time. After a few days, I hired to a cousin, James Dotson (probably Lazarus' son, James W.), and when my time was out I hired to a Mr. Hancock. Before beginning with him I got a letter from father demanding me to come home. This was welcome news and I persuaded brother Garner to go with me. I had been sowing wild oats long enough and I would have been glad to see even a dog I had seen in Mississippi, much more my own father, mother, brothers and sisters for ever since I can remember there was no place like home.
I forgot to mention in it's proper place some incidents of my trip from Tenn. and will relate them here. When I got ready to start I bid them all goodbye Perkins Hardiman (probably Nicholas Perkins Hardiman, brother of James M. Dotson's wife, Susan Hardiman) accompanied me for about ten miles and finally I came in sight of my father's old homestead. I rode around the largest poplar tree I had ever seen, it was 36 feet in circumference which gave it a diameter of 12 feet. It was apparently about 50 feet to the lowest limbs. It was said to have 7 bee hives in its limbs. It was in sight of the old homestead. The house was on the hill where I spent the first years of my childhood. A mile further on we called at Mr. Boyles and I called for Hardy, the old negro my father had sold him, who came out to the gate and I had a short talk with him. He was now too old to be of much service and I bid him goodbye for the last time.
Like other boys of my age, I drifted along from one thing to another (and) went to school all the time I could which was about three months each year after crops were laid by. Some of the teachers were only apologies and I learned but little. I attended a fifty day grammer school taught by Mr. Jack Malcomsom and for the time employed this was of more advantage to me than any schooling I ever had. I almost got Hutcham's grammar by heart. When in my 22nd year I attended school for about 8 months, taught by Amasree White. Here I studied Algebra and surveying, arithmetic, grammar and so forth. Having a fondness for music I attended all the singing schools in reach of me.
About the close of my school career I formed the acquaintance of a nice family (David and Betsy Weeks) in which there were four girls. The older one soon married I got my wits together to win the youngest (Mahala Adeline) that I thought was a beauty. I had always been so bashful around the girls that I found it very difficult to carry on a conversation with them and if they were not talkative themselves then most of the time was spent saying nothing, However I did win the youngest girl of this family and we were married the 9th of June, 1845. And up to the present time in 1909, we have been together 64 years. In all these years I have found her to be a real helpmeet and under the most trying scenes to be a real heroine.
My father gave me a tract of land not far from his home in the N.E. part of Attala county. On this place we lived for several years and here several of our children were born. Apart from farming after a primitive style I taught literary and singing schools. After my father's death in (21 Jan) 1854 I sold my place and moved to Oktibbeha county about two miles south of Whitefield. This was in the year 1856. For the next year and the year following I taught music and it seemed that no matter what day it was nor how busy the whole population seemed to attend. I was also selected as clerk of the Louisville Baptist Association for five terms. The civil war broke out in 1860 (12 Apr 1861) which cast a gloom all over the country and to quote an old music teacher "there was not a song in Winston County". We learned that President Lincoln had called for 75,000 troops to preserve the Union. The people of the South flew to arms and what followed I leave to the student of history. Not being of a military disposition I did not want to go into the army and having been appointed by the County Board to get up supplies for the families of those who were in the army I was exempt. But I was forced to go by those who over rode the law and I resorted to every expedient that I could to keep out of it. I will say in passing that it was a rare sight to see a young man or middle aged man at church or anywhere else while the war lasted. And to the credit of most of the negroes be it said they would have died in defence of the women and children left in their care, while their masters were in the army. But I was forced by conscription to go. By this time I had lost all hope of the success of the south to win her cause and I was not alone in this. Hundreds of soldiers were kept in by coercion and I determined to get out of it. The narrow escapes and the hunger endured I have no language to describe but the sweetest morsel I ever tasted was some bread crumbs in the bottom of (my) haversack. I knew then I could never see a crumb of bread wasted. I finally reached home and after the usual greetings from my sister and her husband, I lay on a bed to rest. I felt I could weep myself away.
After rest from the fatigues of my long trip from Dalton, Georgia and fed on wholesome food I began to feel myself again. But I had to use the utmost caution for the country was full of cavalry, to force men into the army. This suited them better than to go to the front themselves. As time (unreadable) the hopelessness of the south to win was a foregone conclusion but the leading men of the south seemed determined to rule or ruin. To live at home at peace was out of the question and while in the midst of these troubles a brother of mine (William Lazarus Hardiman Dotson) sent me a note saying he was going to California and wanted me to go with him. He thought the trip could be made in safety and once we were there we would be out of it. When this message was first delivered to me I had no thought of going but after thinking it over and seeing no prospect of better times I decided to break up and go. Before I could get ready my brother and John Dudley, a nephew left and I saw them no more for twenty years. However before he left he sent me a note telling me to come on and meet him in Independence, Missouri and there would be a letter there telling me of his whereabouts. After getting things ready we made a start and through untold hardships and delays incident to those troubled times we reached by wagon and team the Mississippi river and after troubles too harrowing to mention or describe we got aboard a gunboat and were landed at Helena, Arkansas. After a week or ten days stay were taken to Memphis, Tenn. and after a short stay there were carried to Cairo, Illinois and by rail to Duquain (DuQuoin), Illinois about 75 miles north of that place on the I. C.(Illinois Central) Railroad. Here we stopped among strangers to make the best disposition of ourselves we could. Having made the trip in the sickly season of the year three of our children died there, James was born Jan. 22, 1849, Acena a lovely little girl born Jan.1857 and Nina a lovely babe, born May1864. There all three died within a month of each other in the fall of 1864 and are buried near Duquain, Ill. None but those who have gone thru such trials can realize the sorrow we experienced.
I soon got work to do and wrote to brother and directed it to Independence, Missouri, first and last wrote four letters but received no answer from him. I then wrote to the post master there and in due time got an answer stating that there were four letters for my brother but none for me. This was sad news for me for he was gone I knew not where. To make the best of my situation was now my aim. After staying at Duquain till early spring I engaged for a time to a Mr. John Snyder out in the country about ten miles from Duquain. There I became acquainted with Dr. Cobb Mulkey and a son in law by the name of Isaac Clayton. With Mr. Clayton I made a crop in 1865. We found them to be among the best people we ever knew even among our own kindred than Dr. Mulkey, Clayton and his wife. Thru their influence we were introduced to others and I taught a singing school, thereby becoming acquainted with a wide circle of newly made friends. It often occurred to me why should these people be engaged in a deadly struggle with the people of the south.
The war came to a close in April of that year and hostilities ceased. Again it was possible to live in the south among our own people. Having lost sight of my brother as related previously, a strong desire to return to Mississippi came over us and we began preparations to go back.
All things being ready some of our new made friends went with us to DeSoto, a station on the I. C. Railroad and we reached Cairo in due time. Not being able to pay a hotel bill we spent the night as best we could. We first made our beds in a low hay loft and the rats soon ran us out of there by permission we went to a little hut in which fires were left for some purpose and here it was so hot we could not stay there so the remainder of the night was spent at the depot, as best we could. The next morning I went down to the steamboat landing and engaged passage to Memphis. We soon had our effects there and by some mistake began to get on the wrong boat. When I saw this I (unreadable) to the boat official. He asked me where I wanted to go and learning that Memphis was my destination, said he would take us there and flat refused to take our effects off. The cost would be no greater than on the other boat. We all got aboard and we were soon under way. The boat was loaded almost to the waters edge. Near Island No.10 the boat hit a snag and soon began to sink. But being near a woodyard it was cabled to trees on the shore. We were on the deck floor and had to wade water almost shoe mouth deep to reach (the) forward part of the boat to get to the cabin floor. All our effects were floated off into the river except the clothing we had on. We got ashore and saw the mules, cows and hogs struggle in the river. Many of them were drowned. There seemed to be more than a hundred head of stock on board. As soon as the boat began to sink the whistle that gave the signal of distress began to blow and the boat that we had intended to take came to the relief of the passengers. Part of our fare was paid back and with this I secured passage to Memphis with barely enough to pay our fare to Vaiden in Carroll County, Miss. Here we landed and made our way three or four miles on foot to a farm house where we were permitted to stay until Billie our oldest boy could get to our kindred near French Camp for conveyance. As soon as the trip could be made conveyance was brought by brother Mason and the next day we were taken to our people. We made our temporary (home) with my wife's mother (Elizabeth "Betsy" Fulcher Weeks) five miles east of Springfield, Miss. and in the year 1866 we made a crop. The early spring was so wet we made very little.
On the 10th of January 1866, (twins) Burkett and Lou were born. Late that fall I made arrangements to teach school at Milligan Springs church, 14 miles east of Winona and boarded with Mr. Tom Stuart at $10.00 a month. That together with two singing schools during the year paid about $700.00. This with what could be done at home put us on our feet again. In 1868 I cultivated part of the W. T. Weeks land and made a fair crop. Prior to this a letter from brother William addressed to Lewis Black (probably Samuel Lewis Black, husband of Almyra Angeline Dotson, sister of H. P.) was received. This is the first word I had had from him since losing sight of him. He partially explained why he did not stop at Independence, Missouri.
The next year I bargained for a homestead from Jesse Fulcher, opened it up and made our home there till 1879. During those years I taught school at Mt. Airy to which place I gave the name of Mt. Airy on account of it's exposure to cold winds. The name was afterwards given the name of the Methodist church there. Perhaps but few know how the name originated but this is how it was.
Up to this time I had served as Secretary for five times for the Louisville Baptist Association and othe congregations, served a Deputy Assessor for Choctaw county in 1875, taught both literary schools and singing schools. But in 1879 we thought we saw a chance to better our conditions by going west, as by this time I had learned that brother William had prospered in his western home and we naturally wanted to go there too. We disposed of our effects here except what we could take with us and finally landed in the San Luis Valley of Colorado (the Mormon colony in Manassas, Conejos Co., CO) instead of going to Utah where brother William lived. For about two years we were happy in our new home and pretty well satisfied. We soon got acquianted with people there and like people everywhere, some were first class with whom we enjoyed association and then there were those who were not what we thought they should be. The climate was so different to what it had been in the sunny south where we were raised and our children were born that we soon wanted to return. This was partly due to the fact that I had not gone to Utah where brother William was. We kept up a close correspondence still hoping that we would again live close together. A blizzard that killed all vegetation the night of Aug. 27, 1882 decided us to seek a warm climate and we made preparations to return to Miss. We arrived here Dec. 1, 1882 and got a cordial welcome from our kindred and were given all the aid our kindred were able to give. All our efforts were needed to make a living.
During the spring Brother William paid us a visit and I was proud to see him as I had not seen him since 1864. The privations he and his family had undergone for the first years were vividly rehearsed and considering the circumstances it was well that we did not get up with him in Missouri. Later in the spring William returned to his home in the west and I taught school in Dry Creek, in Attala county and I made a small crop on my wife's mother's place. During the next year I homesteaded 120 acres of land moved on it and the year 1885 I sold books. But I found it a poor business for me. I had been pretty extensively known over the surrounding country and I was generally welcomed where night over took me. Otherwise it would have been an expence instead of profit. I don't think I ever felt more dependent during my life than I did at that time. To my mind not one woman in ten thousand could have done better than my wife did under such adverse circumstances. And Burkett, just emerging into manhood was the prototype of his mother. He was always equal to the occasion and now at 43 he is a man among men. I followed farming and teaching until 1895.
I had now arrived at the age to retire from teaching and needed a quite life. We were now visited by Mormon elders and so far as we could judge they were all first class men. And their preaching was in keeping with the scriptures as we understood them. By their contributions and help from Brother William and his son Reuben, we were able to take a trip to Salt Lake City.
We left Sturgis on the 8th of June 1899 and arrived at Salt Lake City on the 12th. We were soon at his temporary home. He was living in a rented house and after congratulations were over and refreshments served and a good nights rest, my brother took me to places of interest in the City. He introduced us to his friends as we met them. He seemed to know everybody he met and seemed to be regarded by them as first class. In a day or two we took a trip to the Pavilion at Saltair. There we saw perhaps more than a hundred bathing in the briny water of Salt Lake. This was a novel sight to us as they were floating in the water like so many corks. It is impossible to sink in this water. It is only necessary to hold ones hand up to keep from being strangled.
After resting and visiting in the city till the 26th we took a trip to Mt. Pleasant where brothers youngest daughter Mima (Nancy Jamima) lived and ran a hotel. We were driven around to places of interest and spent ten very pleasant days except my wife's health was very poor and she could not enjoy it as otherwise she would.
On the 1st day of July we left Mt. Pleasant for Minersville my brother's former home. Here his son Reuben lived, engaged in farming and merchandising. We stopped off at Provo to wait for the train that would take us to Minersville. We visited with Elder Jones who had visited us in Mississippi. Reuben met us at Milford with a conveyance to take us to Minersville, 14 miles away. After getting to Minersville Hattie Gentry, another of Brothers daughters took us home with her about 20 miles away. We visited the Barracks built originally for soldiers but now used for a high school. Here a number of stone buildings resembling a small village were seen. We went thru a mine on the way back and I was glad to be out of there and declared that I would never try that again. On the 4th of July I attended a celebration at Minersville that made me think of the celebrations we had back in Miss. On the 15th of July we went to Parawan in Iron county 40 miles south of Minersville. A few miles from Parawan the road runs thru a gap in the foot hills. On both sides of the road are high rock walls filled with all sorts of pictures. Hieroglyphics, incidentally the work of a prehistoric race. As far is known they have never been deciphered. Some of there pictures were at least 20 feet in height. We were carried up into the mountains to what was called Housier Lake. This Lake was fed by a bold spring of ice water. The lower end of a depression in the mountains by an embankment. The length of the lake is about half a mile and it is well stocked with fish. We had quite a feast eating them and drinking cold buttermilk. An old gentleman and his family had their summer residence there. We returned to Parawan that evening and visited places of interest for a few days and then back to Minersville about the 22nd. Another celebration on the 27th which was Pioneer Day as the Mormons called it and a day or two later Brother and his wife took us 40 miles south to a place called Sulphur where his oldest daughter lived. Anna (Violet Ann) was her name and she lived part of her time here and part of it in Salt Lake City. About half way from Minersville to Sulphur on a gentle rise in what is known as Escolante Desert are about fifty hot springs led off by trenches to a reservior below for irrigating and watering of stock. The water was in a boiling state and I actually boiled my handkerchief in one of them. On the 2nd of August brother, his wife and daughter Hettie accompanied us to Milford where we bid good bye and took the night train to Provo. We stopped off and stayed a day or two with Elder Jones. I never saw a finer Apple orchard as I saw there. The ground was literally covered with apples and the trees were loaded with them. A cherry tree seemed to have bushels of cherries on it. A crowed gathered on the second night we were there and a welcome was extended to us. After our stay had ended we took the train for American Fork and stopped off and spent a few days with Elder J. W. Chipman. We took the train for West Jordan and spent a few days with Elder Bateman and his father's family. We were taken to places of interest, first to a Power House in Big Cottonwood Canyon where a mountain stream created a roar almost deafening. The power here runs the electric lights in the city about 20 miles away.
We also visited a copper smelter about ten miles south of the city. The strong odor from the smelting copper was almost stifling and is certainly very unhealthy. Elder Bateman's house is in sight of the city and although 12 miles away the street lamps can be seen and looks like so many stars. After four days at Elder Bateman's he carried us in his hack to the city to Bishop Maycock's as one of his sons, A. Maycock had enjoyed our hospitality in Miss. We attended a meeting of the Tabernacle and heard a fine choir accompanied by the grand organ and listened to a sermon on Agnosticism by Elder B. H. Roberts. He handled it in a masterly fashion. On the 14th we went to Farmington where we were met at the depot by conveyance to Elder Combs where we met several elders whom we had entertained and had a very agreeable time. I had thought it strange that these people are so little understood and vilified. It is true that there are among them who are not what they ought to be but where will we go and find everybody first class.
On the 16th we returned to the city and made preparations for starting our journey back home. Being destitute of funds to pay our way back to Miss. my brother gave me a check on the bank for 5 or 50) dollars as he feared the elders would not furnish the funds as they had promised. But I had little doubt on this score and true to their promise they bought tickets and furnished money for incidental expenses on the route. I had no need to use the check and I sent it back to him after we got home. But after we went back to the city from Farmington we were accompanied by President T. R. Condie who stuck close to us as a brother and was a leader in securing our tickets. We boarded the cars on the 17th of August on the U. P. Rairoad accompanied by five elders just starting out on a mission. They came with us as far as St. Louis, a little too late to get tickets on the M. O. Railroad and we had to stay in the depot or thereabouts until 8 o'clock P.M. The air was hot and stifling which made a very disagreeable day. The elders staid with us till we were on the train and saw us safely off. In due time we arrived at West Point, Miss and stayed overnight with Mrs. Joiner whom we had known when the Aberdeen branch of the I.C. Railroad was building. The next day we landed at Sturgis and Burkett and Green Trimm (William Green Quinn) were there with conveyance to bring us home. We were delighted to see them. This was the 22nd of August 1899, we had been gone two months and 14 days. The trip was pleasant but would have been more so if it had not been for the poor health of my wife. It is now, while I am writing this March 19, 1909.
During the ten years since our return we have been drifting along, enjoying a reasonable portion of health and so far as we know enjoy the respect of all who know us. Some of my students have become professional men, doctors, lawyers, preachers and teachers. Many of them are in the rank and file (and) have crossed over the great beyond. This sketch I now finish on the 19 of March 1909, in my 86th year and dedicate it to my children, grandchildren and all others who may read it.
H. P. Dotson
History of John Wesley Chipman - By Claudia Spencer Sadler
Colaborador: GraveSeeker Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
JOHN WESLEY CHIPMAN
John Wesley Chipman was born the 17th of September 1867 and grew up in American Fork, Utah, the town which his father and grandfather established in pioneer days. He was the 5th child born to Washburn Chipman and Margaret Vance McNickols in a family of 12.
His young life was full of the usual farm chores, feeding the animals and helping to plant crops and tending to the sheep. He lived on a large farm of about 30 acres that was comprised mostly of fruit trees and undeveloped forest. There were several acres of tilled land on which his father, Washburn raised mostly corn, in addition to a large garden.
As John grew older he became more acquainted with Jane Drew Clarke, who lived close by. They had grown up together in the small town of American Fork, but now as he was more mature he looked at her fine qualities and thought of her as a future companion. It was soon after that they were married in the Logan Temple on January 23, 1890. They were both 22 years of age. Their home was built between the two families, the Clarkes and the Chipmans on about 3 acres of land next to Washburn’s home. They had a couple of Jersey cows, 40 or 50 chickens and a couple of riding horses, and usually a harness horse or two that John brought in from the sheep camp.
On October 8, 1891 their first son, John Milton was born. Three years later, on February 3, 1894 a second son, James Wesley was born. In 1894 John left home for the Southern States Mission, leaving his young wife to care for the two small boys. He traveled without purse or script. Jane helped to support him and the family by helping relatives and milking cows, accompanied by both John and James.
As years went by John and Jane’s family grew. By 1911 they numbered 9 children in all; John M., James W., Lyman Morris, Washburn Drew, Margaret Lavon, Armand, Bertha Jane, Francis Melvin and Delma Clarke. Armand died as a baby in 1905 and James Wesley was killed in France during the First World War in 1918 and he is buried in the Arlington Cemetery.
In those early days there seemed to be considerable rivalry between the various heads of families as to who had the best riding horse, best looking and fastest harness horses, the most up to date surrey, etc. One day Uncle Tom Chipman purchased a pretty snazzy buggy. Soon after, John came up with the best two-seated surrey in town, which even had lamps on the side. He would pile the family in once a month for Stake Conference, when held in Lehi or Pleasant Grove. All the children were proud as they passed the other families going to the conference in their beautiful carriage. Finally to keep in front of the show, as often Chipman families tried to keep up with appearances, John brought in from the sheep herd vicinity a beautiful coal black pacer to go with the surrey. The only trouble was that he wasn’t fully broken. When he was home he could handle him very well after he reared up and kicked a few times, and during those few stays home from the sheep herd things went very well. On the monthly conference above mentioned, the family would zip past everyone on the road going to and from Lehi or Pleasant Grove. Of course the boys especially seemed to get a kick out of it, particularly if the horse decided to attend to business. However, poor mother’s situation was something else. Where she naturally wanted a pleasant, peaceful ride with a much less ostentatious carriage and horse, she usually had to suffer through the very unpleasant and sometimes dangerous situation. It’s doubtful with all the fine equipment Dad had, that Mother ever had a peaceful, gentle, pleasurable ride in this fine carriage. Once she said in later years that she had never been carriage riding in those days behind a horse that was broken to the carriage. Dad of course could never understand her attitude in this respect. To him, it seemed a horse wasn’t any good unless he reared and kicked and tried to run away.
Once John brought home a race horse from the camp that he had caught from a band of wild horses. He had his eye on this particular horse with a view of catching, breaking and running him in the races held every 4th of July in American Fork. Uncle Will Chipman had imported a trotting stallion from England which was winning all the trotting races. Dad wanted to get a horse to keep his ride on the Chipman clan where he thought it should be, so he settled on this wild horse which he named Sorrel, because that was his color. He brought the horse home and would train him at the track early in the morning around 3 or 4 o’clock so other townspeople wouldn’t know how fast he could run. Of course Sorrel won his races, but unknown to John someone saw him training the horse and after the races told the townspeople. John was accused of bringing in a “ringer” and had quite a lot of explaining to do.
John was a good father. He was away a lot because of his sheep but when he was home he was with his family. He encouraged the boys in athletics and all forms of sports. A basketball court was fixed in the back yard and the home was the meeting place for the neighborhood boys. He bought any sport equipment there was, such a bicycles, boxing gloves, skates and baseball equipment, all the equipment normal boys yearned for. He liked to run races with the kids and play baseball with them. In the winter he loved to skate on Utah Lake and in the summer the family swam at the warm springs. John was a very conscientious man in taking care of his family. He loved to do things as a family unit.
John had an “ear for music”. He had a very natural tenor voice and on occasion he sang with Mark Robinson who at the time traveled to give performance. When he came to American Fork, John would sing duets with him. The family always remembers him singing funny songs in the car while traveling, such as “Mickey Flanagan’s Bull Pup”, etc. At home he enjoyed singing to his own accompaniment on the organ or piano which he played mostly in chords and he liked to sing with his children gathered around with Jane at the piano. He loved to dance and would often turn back the parlor rug to do a tap dance.
American Fork comprised of one ward in the church until it was divided in to four. Joseph H. Storrs was made Bishop of the 2nd Ward and chose John as his 1st counselor. He was counselor for 25 years up until the time he was released when he moved to Salt Lake in 1915. Because he was way a lot with the sheep, he didn’t hold many other church positions.
While in American Fork, his brother-in-law, James H. Clarke, mayor, choose John as a City Councilman. He served during 1904 -05. During this term among the business taken care of was a franchise to operate a telephone system in town. He worked in the American Fork Co-op, the Chipman family store, where most of the household goods and clothes were purchased.
John loved to fix things, as farmers and stockman have to learn. Harnesses, tools etc. needed repairs and new supplies were not readily available. He was a “handy man” at all trades. Quality was an important factor in his makeup, probably acquired in his merchandising experience. He had a good but conservative taste. John wanted the best and usually got it.
As the children grew older, John sensed that his boys weren’t going to be farmers and he was farsighted enough to get his family to a place where they could get higher education. When the family moved to Salt Lake, they lived in the Forest Dale area of 7th East and 21st South. He sold insurance and leased his sheep. When he sold enough insurance to fill the coal bin he went back to sheep and so on. He was an excellent salesman and many companies tried to get him to sell for them.
John was called to be the Bishop of the Forest Dale ward and served in this position about four years when he ward was divided and he was released. He served as chairman of the Finance Committee and was influential in building a newly created ward, the Lincoln Ward and also the Granite Stake House. John never hesitated to give when it came to donations. One of his words of wisdom was “you never miss what you give to the Lord”. Sundays for the family were spent together visiting Liberty Park or Fort Douglas to hear the band concerts. He loved music.
In 1926 John was called on a short mission (6 months) to California. He served part of his mission acting as a guide to the Mesa Temple before it was dedicated. At this time Jane became ill so he returned home. When she died on March 7, 1927, John felt that part of him had gone with her. She was such a tremendous helpmate and companion. He was released from his mission and retired from business. He missed the companionship of his wife and the strength she gave him. Sever years later on December 30, 2934 in a civil marriage in the St. George Temple John took Iduma Sweeten Cragun to be his wife. They traveled a lot and did some temple work. They were married about 10 years when John was stricken with Muscular Sclerosis. Iduma eventually left him and went back to her family and John went back to his. They were later divorced before he died.
John died on July 17, 1944. He was a free –hearted man in his way. On occasion the children would ask him for spending money but he always gave a lecture so long that they were discouraged to ask again. He supplied them with everything they possibly needed to grow and develop normally and much more than children of other families. He was quite a competitor. He wanted his children to excel in what they were doing. John was a wonderful man to be with, and a wonderful dad.
Compiled by Claudia Spencer Sadler from: Lavon, Lyman, Drew,
Bertha, France and Delma