Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Edmund Richardson and Mary Ann Darrow - Part II


On August 3, 1853, the Richardson's entered the Salt Lake Valley. In the evening they made camp on the west bank of the Jordan River. They hoped this location was far enough from the city to be safe from the Mormons, yet near enough to afford them protection from the Indians. So far, they knew nothing about the Mormons, except for the vile things they had heard from Mormon haters. Before supper was ready, a barefoot boy forded the now shallow river on a pony, dismounted at their camp, & graciously offered them a pail of fresh milk. He explained that his mother had seen their campfire & thought the fresh milk might be refreshing to weary travelers. The Richardson's called this gift, "The milk of kindness", but thought it strange that it would come from the malicious Mormons. The work necessary to sustain the family was found at West Jordan, ten miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Here, as in their own Vermont, mills formed the nucleus of the village & furnished work for the people. Mary Ann found work at a woolen factory owned by Matthew Gaunt. Archibald Gardner, ever on the alert for expert help in building his 32 mills, discovered Edmund Richardson & rejoiced when he noted the fine work Edmund did on the West Jordan flourmill located on the mill race a mile above the Gardner saw mill. The Richardson family probably lived in one of the adobe houses Mr. Gardner furnished for the families of their hired help.


 Quoting from Edmund & Sullie, we have the story of the family's conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Their first association with their Mormon neighbors was when one invited them to his home for supper. They were fearful that their host might be offended at persons professing other than the Mormon religion. They recalled the persecutions they had previously suffered at the hands of their own people when they left the Baptist Church & joined the Presbyterians. However, as the lesser of two evils, they accepted the invitation. A few days later another dinner invitation was accepted, &, with these associations removing some of their fears, Edmund accepted an invitation from his boss to attend a Mormon meeting. That was the beginning of a new life for them. Edmund felt that he had heard the first real gospel sermon of his life. Edmund & Mary were baptized 3 October 1853 by Ralph Thompson. They then received a call from their Prophet, Brigham Young, to settle in Sanpitch (Manti), Utah, as reinforcements for the struggling pioneers there.


The Walker War had begun on 18 July 1853. It was thought to have been precipitated by an accidental killing of an Indian boy by Alex Keel of Payson. This war cost the lives of many people, beginning with that of Alex Keel. Reports of the killing of four Manti Brethren by the Indians prompted Brigham Young to immediate action in an attempt to prevent a repetition. He called a company of families, the Richardson's among them, to reinforce the beleaguered saints at Manti. Obedient to the call, these people immediately began preparations to make the move. On 4 October 1853, the Indians killed the miller of Manti, John E. Warner, & his guard, Brother William Mills. In preparation for the now imperative measure of moving the mill from the mouth of the canyon into town, a stock supply of flour had to be ground. William Black, who later married Emma Lynette Richardson, & Martin Wood, were called to keep the mill running night & day. They worked under guard of two men during the day & twelve at night. On 1 November 1853, the grinding ceased, the guards were called off, & the men were instructed to rest a few days before beginning to move the mill. "But the Indians were evidently watching us, for on the 6th day of November, the mill was burned & everything pertaining to it were lost," wrote William Black.


The reinforcement company was reported to have left Salt Lake City 10 December 1853. Of this trip Emma Lynette Richardson wrote: "We started in the dead of winter, which was a very bad winter. Snow was four feet deep and still snowing in Salt Creek Canyon (Nephi Canyon), and it was cold! We had scant clothing & scant everything else. One man by the name of Michaelson froze his feet so badly that he lost part of them through tramping snow & breaking roads so that the teams could get through. We were about two weeks going from West Jordan to Manti. We camped in Ephraim one night & got into Manti the next night after dark." The welcome given by the 647 residents of Manti to those recruits was everything they could give. When Bishop Lowry asked who could take the new people in, practically every house was thrown open. Perhaps it would be better to say "every room" was thrown open, for as Emma said, "Very few families had more than one room, and we moved right in with Sister Margaret Black & her family in a room in the old log fort." With the gristmill gone, flour was at a premium that winter, so Edmund put his little iron coffee mill to work. Emma says the little grinder was passed around the neighborhood & was kept busy all winter. She said that boiled whole wheat was very good to eat as cereal, & also tasted good when fried. In the spring of 1854, the Richardson's & John Crawford's moved into John Chase's room. When winter came, they were able to move into a large room vacated by William Behunin.


Continuing Indian trouble & increasing numbers of settlers made it necessary to make a larger fort. Many settlers who had been dangerously isolated fled into Manti for protection. Edmund Richardson reached Manti in time to help plan & build the Big Fort, which began in 1854. He describes the Fort as covering nine square blocks, which included the little stone Fort. The walls were twelve feet high, two feet wide at the top, & were set on a foundation three feet wide. It was built mostly of quarried rock, though part of it was one in the Old Spanish style by making a frame of wood & filling this with mud. Some of it was built of large adobes. Military rule was proclaimed at Manti, & work on the Fort was pushed as rapidly as possible. A standing guard was set up. Each morning at the beat of the drum, every man answered to roll call & received his orders for both day & night duty. The men went for wood in companies of not less than ten or twelve & were guarded by two mounted men who stationed themselves upon some lookout to keep constant watch as the others worked.


As Edmund worked on the Council House & the fort, he dreamed of having a home of his own. He got a lot just southeast of the meetinghouse block & found time to build an adobe house on it.


Beneath acres of arid sagebrush lay rich tillable soil. But it took a great deal of time & effort to clear, cultivate & plant the seeds that would make it yield sufficient food for the newcomers. Even with the crops growing there were other problems to face. One season the grasshoppers devoured all the garden produce except the pumpkins & potatoes, & the Indians helped themselves to them before they were ripe. The Richardson family, along with all of their neighbors, had very little to eat. So serious was the situation that the wheat supply was pooled & then divided among the families according to number & ages. All were instructed to adhere strictly to the stipulated rations in order to insure the wheat supply until food could be raised. Toward spring, as an added precaution, Sister Pamela, wife of Orville S. Cox, sliced her bread, re-browned it in the oven & reduced it to crumbs. Each morning she doled out two spoonfuls of crumbs to each family member. One day a neighbor came to Brother Cox pleading for help. His wheat supply was all gone, he confessed, because they had been lax about rationing, & his children were crying for bread. Though Walter Cox was a child, he considered himself too big to cry about anything. However, he found tears running down his thin cheeks as he watched his father divide their meager wheat supply equally with the neighbor. Because he was always hungry on the rations they had, Walt was sure his family would die on one spoonful of crumbs per day. However, that night at family prayer, he felt consoled as he listened to his father's petition for help. Some time later, as Walt passed Temple Hill on his way to herd the sheep, he noticed a patch of green plants growing at its southern base. Though they were somewhat different than pigweed or redroot, Walt carried an armful home to his mother, confident that they were the answer to his father's prayer for food. When Sister Cox found the greens superior to any she had tasted before, she spread the good news to the rest of her neighbors. Every day the greens were carefully cut to the ground. Every morning they had grown enough for another day's cutting, & the people gave thanks to the Lord for the "Manna Weed". They also marveled that during the long season, appetites continued to relish the greens & stomachs to tolerate them. However, when the spring gardens produced abundantly, the greens disappeared & were never known to grow there again. Walter told that all his life he searched unsuccessfully for some of those "Manna Weeds" with their own special flavor.

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