• Autobiography of William Halls

    I, William, son of John Halls and Susanna Selstone, was born May 25, 1834 in Orsett, Essex, England. My father used tobacco and strong drink and some men who boarded at my father’s, just for amusement, taught me to smoke; it was fun for them to see me rock my cradle and smoke my pipe. I didn’t do this long, as I don’t know anything about it, only as I’ve been told. By heredity and environment I had every chance to have never acquired this habit.

    My father was a farm laborer, having no property and receiving low wages. Therefore, we were quite poor. I was the eldest of four sons, and at the age of five or six I was called to work on the farm, herding sheep and swine, and doing little chores, with no chance of schooling.

    When I was about ten years old, I thought of my father’s illiteracy and the state of our family, and the question came to me, ”Are you going to repeat the history of your father–grow to manhood, marry, and raise a family in like conditions?” And the answer came to me, “No, there is something better than that for you.” And without suggestion or encouragement from anyone I was prompted to buy books and learn to read. The only help I received was from my mother, who could read. She pronounced the words in my spelling lessons to me. I also bought pens, ink, and copy books, and learned to write without any assistance. My parents being Episcopalians, I attended the services of that church. I studied the scriptures, church catechism, and articles of faith; I attended to my daily prayers and did right as near as I knew how. But I wasn’t satisfied. There was a soul hunger, a longing for spiritual life. The future was dark and uncertain. I had a constant fear of death.

    This was my condition till my fifteenth year; then one Sunday I heard there was to be preaching near my home, and I determined to stay away from church, something I had never done and attend that meeting. So strong was the prompting to go to that meeting that nothing but force could have restrained me. I went and I learned that the preacher was called a “Latter-day Saint.” Until then I had never heard of Latter-day Saints. I listened to his discourse and by comparison found it agreed with the scriptures. I was converted and the condition of the sectarian churches was made plain to my mind.

  • Then this thought came to my mind: These Latter-day Saints have the doctrines, organization, officers, and ordinances, and all the outward evidences of the church of Christ, but have they divine authority? This was the only question in my mind. So I went and bowed in secret, and I prayed to the Lord to make known to me if the Latter-day Saints had divine authority to preach the Gospel and baptize for the remission of sins. And a personage appeared me and answered me in these words: “The Latter-day Saints are the true church, and the only true church on the earth.” I saw the person and heard the voice, and though that is sixty-eight years since, the words are as fresh on my mind as if they were spoken yesterday. And from that time not the shadow of a doubt has crossed my mind in regard to the divine mission of Joseph Smith and the truth of this work. I only heard a few sermons, and then I never saw nor heard of a Latter-day Saint for a year and a half. I told no one of my experiences, and I felt condemned because I had not been baptized when I had the chance, and my fear of death was greater than before. As soon as I heard of them again, I lost no time. On the twenty-sixth of January 1851, I was baptized. And when I came up out of the water the first thing that came to my mind was the fear of death was gone, which was a great comfort to me. That soul hunger was satisfied; that longing for spiritual life was supplied.

    Soon after I was baptized, I was ordained a teacher and was sent to visit the members in their homes. Through my testimony my mother, sister, and three brothers joined the Church. When I was eighteen, I was ordained a priest and baptized my father in the River Thames. In a day or so, on Sunday, I went with others to adjacent villages to preach in the streets. One Sunday after opening the meeting by singing and prayer, Brother William Shill was called to speak, but instead he motioned for me to speak. I did so. After meeting he gave as the reason for not speaking that he was dumb. The next Sunday at the same place, after opening the meeting as usual, I was called to speak, and I was dumb. But I thought, I have been called to speak and I will not yield to that spirit. I stood looking at the people, and soon, by the exercise of faith and secret prayer, I was able to speak. That spirit never troubled me again. When I was nineteen, I was ordained an elder and called to preside over the Orsett Branch. Then I had a strange experience. A cloud of darkness suddenly came over me. It seemed as if I was given over to the buffetings of Satan. No answer to prayer, no light entered my soul. I said nothing to anyone but continued to press on and do my duty as best I could. This continued three weeks. Then as suddenly as it came, it left me, and that spirit has never returned. I believe that experience taught me the difference between the light of Christ and the darkness of Satan.

    When I was eighteen years old, I quit working on a farm and went to work on the railroad, building bridges, learned to use tools and work with the carpenters. I worked on different public works for over two years.

  • In 1854 I worked in London helping to build the Westminster bridge across the River Thames. I had an ambition to become a master mechanic and contractor of public works. But just then I was called to go and preach the Gospel without purse and scrip. This call was unexpected and some trial to me, but I knew I was called by divine authority and that it was my duty, so I went and traveled four years in the Essex Conference. Then I was called to preside over the Lincolnshire Conference. I found that conference heavily in debt to the Liverpool Office and no assets to balance the account. The branches were widely scattered and poorly organized. All the help I had was two young men without experience in the ministry. I felt cast down. I felt I had a burden too much for me to bear. Just then I dreamed that I was in Salt Lake City with President Young in his office. I turned to him and said “President Young, how can you bear the care of all this Church?” He turned to me with a smile and said, “Why Brother Halls, this is not my work; it is the work of God, and he is carrying it on. I have but to do my duty and leave the result with him.” This suggestion was a lifelong blessing to ne. I cast off all care and worry, went calmly along to do my duty trusting in God for the result.

    The conference was soon out of debt, the branches in good working order, and I was very much blessed in my labors. Many sick and some very serious cases were instantly healed under my ministry. I was one year and two months in Lincolnshire, then was called to preside over the Bradford Conference in Yorkshire. During my first few months in Yorkshire I had a rather severe lesson in patience and self-control. The Bradford conference was in the Sheffield pastorate, comprising the Sheffield, Bradford, Hull, and Lincolnshire Conferences. During my stay in Yorkshire I labored under three presidents, Joseph F. Smith being the last. I became well acquainted with Joseph F. and found him a true and faithful friend entirely free from hypocrisy.

    In the spring of 1861, I was released from my mission, and April 15 was married to Louisa C. Enderby by Joseph F. Smith. And soon after we left for Utah. We crossed the sea in the ship Underwriter. Elder Milo Andrus had charge of the emigrants, assisted by Elders Homer Duncan and Charles W. Penrose. The company was divided into wards, each in charge of an elder. I had a ward of eighty members, all women. On arriving at Florence I had twenty-five cents in money. O’Dell gave me some bread without my asking him, after which I found money in my pocket, enough to pay my expenses while in Florence. I never knew how the money came into my pocket.

    On the plains I had mountain fever. For four days, I could neither eat nor sleep and was in dreadful pain. On the fourth day I felt that I was dying, that I couldn’t live another day. Then the question came to me, “Is it time for you to die? Have you finished your mission?” And the answer came, “No, you are only just married; you have not received your endowments and sealings; your mission is not done. If you will send for Elder Marus Ensign to administer to you, you will be healed.” Brother Ensign was one of the teamsters. They laid their hands on me and I was instantly healed. From that time I had no pain and gained strength.

  • We arrived in Salt Lake City September 15, 1861. We were homeless, penniless, and helpless, and owed the Perpetual Emigrating Fund one hundred and sixty-five dollars for our passage across the plains. Having done no manual labor for seven years, and being feeble from illness, I was unable to work. But we had arrived but a few minutes when Brother Edward W. Davis of the seventeenth ward took me and my wife to his house and gave us a home and board free of charge. Brother Davis was a carpenter, and as I gained strength I helped him some. But it was little I could do. We stayed with Brother Davis six weeks. Then I was offered a position as school teacher in Kaysville. We moved to Kaysville and I taught school there that winter. In the winter of ‘63-64, I taught school at Mound Fort near Ogden. In the summer of ‘64 I drove a team across the plains for emigrants, by which I paid my debt to the P.E. fund. I was greatly blessed that summer, as I earned more money than I could have earned had I stayed at home.

    After teaching school in winter and working mostly at carpenter work in summer for ten or eleven years, I found myself with very little property and a growing family increasing on my hands. Then, that I might obtain means to sustain myself and family and furnish employment for my boys, I quit teaching school and engaged in farming, stock raising, and dairying, and was quite successful. In 1869, I was ordained a seventy for ward work by Elder A. M. Musser and set apart as one of the presidents of the seventy-sixth quorum, which position I held for eight years. In 1877 I was ordained a high priest by Apostle F. D. Richards and set apart as first counselor to Bishop F. A. Hammond of the Huntsville Ward. I was clerk of the Huntsville branch under the presidency of F. A. Hammond. I was secretary of the Huntsville Coop Institution nine years, from its organization till its dissolution. I was a member of the Dramatic club and played on the stage several years. I took a part also in the debating society and was postmaster some years.

    In the spring of 1885 I left Huntsville with F. A. Hammond for the San Juan mission and arrived in Bluff in May. In June, the San Juan Stake was organized with F. A. Hammond president, and I engaged in farming. The San Juan Stake extended from Moab on Grand River, Utah to Canyon Largo, on the San Juan River, New Mexico. I spent a great deal of my time in attending the quarterly conferences and visiting the wards, mostly traveling alone, till November 25, 1900, when President Hammond and I were thrown from a carriage and he was mortally wounded and died in a few hours. I was hurt some, but soon recovered. I was acting president of the stake till August 1901, when Elder Platte D. Lyman was chosen president and I his first counselor. Brother Lyman died a few weeks afterward and I was again acting president until May 1902, when Walter C. Lyman was chosen president and I his first counselor. May 17, 1908, I was ordained a patriarch by President F. M. Lyman. In 1911, Brother Walter C. Lyman was released and Elder L. H. Redd chosen president, with David Halls and Albert R. Lyman counselors. In May 1912, the San Juan Stake was divided, and the Young Stake, consisting of the wards in Colorado and New Mexico was organized, with David Halls president and H. M. Taylor and J. H. Hammond counselors, since which I have acted as a patriarch in the Young Stake.

  • In my ministry in this mission I have traveled about forty-five thousand miles by team, over a country varying in elevation five thousand to eight thousand feet, in all seasons, mostly alone, camping out frequently many miles from any settlement. As patriarch I have blessed over seven hundred. The past few years I have worked some in the Salt Lake Temple. I have worked and paid for over eight hundred dead. I have spent a great part of my life in missionary labor, but my work in the temple has given me more joy than all the rest of my labor. I have sometimes felt that I might have been foreordained to fill a mission.

    In looking back on my life in series it seems as if I was led at an early age to prepare for my work. When ten years old I was prompted to learn to read, and when at twenty I commenced my mission, I not only studied the scriptures to help me in my ministry, but I bought books, and subscribed for Cassell’s Popular Educator, a monthly magazine, designed for self-students who couldn’t go to college. And all through my seven years labor as a missionary I studied to learn the fundamentals of education so that when I came to Utah I was able to teach school. While teaching I studied especially mathematics. In this mission I have found use for this training, as I have acted as stake tithing clerk for many years, filled two terms as county superintendent of schools, nine years as director of the Mancos town schools, being brought into contact with college graduates and supervising their work and answering their questions. I have been made to fully realize that without this preparation I could not have performed my mission and filled these positions.

    As regards my family, I was married to my first wife, Louisa C. Enderby, April 15, 1861. She had six children, five sons and one daughter, all yet living. She died May 25, 1911 in Huntsville. I was married to my second wife, Johanna M. Frandsen, June 26, 1871. She had twelve children, four sons and eight daughters. Eleven are yet living. She died December 15, 1913 in Mancos. I was married to my third wife Eleanor Howard, January 8, 1880. She had one child, a daughter now living. She died March 7, 1334 in Huntsville. I have at the present, 1917, nine sons and nine daughters, thirty-four grandsons and thirty granddaughters, and, nine if not ten, great-grandson and granddaughters. I am thankful for my family. I don’t know of any of my children nor grandchildren that have brought dishonor on me or on themselves.

    As to temporal things, I will say that though I have spent much of my time in the ministry, I have not lacked the comforts of life. The Lord has provided for me. If I have needed land, horses, cattle or money, it has come to me, always just when I needed it. As an instance, at one time I wanted to go to a place and had no money to pay my fare. I said nothing about it. Just then a friend came to me and said, “Brother Halls, I am impressed that you need some money.” And he gave me enough to pay my fare there and back and some to spare. This is one case out of many.

  • The Lord has rebuked the destroyer from my land. At one time when in Utah, I had a field of wheat just in the tender blade. I went into the field and found a swarm of crickets all through it. On the side that they came in, there was a narrow strip eaten clear to the ground. I was alone and helpless, and I stood on the edge of the field and lifted my hands and prayed to the Lord to turn those crickets away, and immediately they hurried off. In a few minutes there was not one to be seen on the field. They never returned, and the crop was saved.

    I have lived in my own home and cultivated my own land. I have never mortgaged nor gone in debt. I haven’t bought that which I couldn’t pay for or taken anything on the installment plan. I have never fretted, nor worried, nor worked beyond my strength. I have prospered not by my own wisdom, forethought, nor management, but by the providence of my heavenly father.

    In regard to the spiritual things, I know that from my childhood the Lord has watched over me, and preserved me from evil, and guided me by the prompting of his spirit whenever it has been necessary for my good. When on my mission I started one morning intending to go to a certain town to preach on the street. As I was going on the way, the spirit prompted me to go to another place, and when I got to the point leading to said place, I turned and went as directed. When I got there, I found a young girl in a dying condition. She had prayed to the Lord to send Brother Halls to administer to her, and she was healed, came to Utah, married and became the mother of a large family.

    While living in Utah, walking in a way that seemed right to me, and was perfectly satisfied, the Lord spoke to me by his spirit and told me to do that which seemed a great trial to me but I knew it was the voice of the Lord, so I humbled myself and made a covenant with the Lord that I would obey his will, and prayed for guidance and wisdom. Immediately the trial passed away. The yoke was made easy and the burden light. It turned the course of my life. It has been the rule of my life to yield to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and though at times it has seemed a trial, I have always found that it was for my good. When I think of my experiences, I feel that I cannot be thankful enough to my heavenly father for his love and tender care over me.

  • In my travels I have several times been preserved from danger and death. As an example, one day I was traveling over a high divide in deep snow. I knew the road well, having traveled over it all seasons for twenty years, but about fifty rods before reaching a dugway leading into a canyon, I became bewildered, and lost the road. All seemed as strange as if I had never seen it before. After wandering around some time, unable to find the dugway, I went back to the house I left in the morning. Two days after, when I went over the road again with a young man and extra team to help me through, all was plain, and when reaching the summit, there were my tracks not twenty feet from the road, and the dugway in plain sight. We started from the spot and soon came to a place, where, if I had been alone, I could not have gone forward, nor turned back and having no bedding and being very cold, January 12, I must have frozen to death. In all my travel, before and since, I was never bewildered, but that saved my life. As a fond mother watches over her helpless child and shields it from danger, so has my heavenly father watched over me, and preserved me, and led me by his Holy Spirit in the way of life. He called me in my youth into his service, led me from my native land, and gave me a home with my family in these peaceful valleys, and has provided me with all the comforts of life, for my physical, mental, moral and spiritual welfare.

    Since, in answer to prayer, the Lord gave me by revelation a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, and the divine mission of Joseph Smith, not the shadow of a doubt has crossed my mind. As time has passed and my experiences extended, my testimony has increased. My desire is that I may be continue faithful to the end, finish my mission on earth, and go in spirit and visit those for whom I have labored; that I may be worthy to come forth in the first resurrection, and have the companionship, love, and affection of the wives that have sealed to me this life in the Holy Temple; that my children may be humble, put away pride and vanity, and trust in the God of our souls and keep his commandments; that they may have joy in this world and eternal lives in the world to come. This work will roll on till the knowledge of God covers the earth. The righteous will increase and spread abroad, as the wicked slay the wicked and are cut off. Christ will come with his saints and reign on earth, and all the words of the prophets will be fulfilled.

  • Life of William and Louisa Enderby Halls

    By Florence Hall Bell, Granddaughter, Daughter of George Halls

    My paternal grandfather, William Halls, was born in the parish of Orsett, County of Essex, England, on May 25, 1834. His parents were John Halls and Susanna Selstone. He described himself as a farm laborer. Whether his father owned his own farm on which Grandfather worked, or whether they both worked for someone else is not clear. The family were members of the Episcopalian church.

    At the age of fifteen, he heard the gospel as taught of the Latter-day Saints. He believed it was true, and in answer to earnest prayer received a positive testimony of the divine mission of Joseph Smith. On January 26, 1851, at the age of seventeen, he was baptized. Through his testimony, his mother, his sister Mary Ann, and his three brothers, Thomas, James, and George were also baptized. At eighteen, he was ordained a priest and baptized his father. At nineteen, he was ordained an elder and called to preside over the Orsett branch of the Church. In October 1854 when he was twenty, he was called on a mission and labored in his own conference of Essex until 1858, when he was called to preside over the Lincolnshire conference.

    Now my Grandmother, Louisa Carritt Enderby, was living in Lincolnshire. She was a dainty young lady of considerable refinement and culture, and her family was much more affluent than was Grandfather’s. She made the fatal mistake of happening by one day as he was preaching on the street. She fell in love with him at first sight, or so the story goes. I find it rather hard to believe, but then, of course, I didn’t know Grandfather when he was young. I have always questioned whether Grandma was converted to the gospel or just to Grandpa. There was no question that she was converted to him. It was her good fortune that she stayed in love with him to the end of her days, or possibly, in the light of future events, it may not have been good fortune, who can say? However, in the spring of 1861, he was released from his mission, and they were married on April 15, 1861 by Elder Joseph F. Smith, then on a mission to England. Grandma was twenty-one, Grandpa almost twenty-seven at the time of their marriage. Immediately, they set out for America and Zion. They crossed the sea on the Underwriter, and upon arriving in America, crossed the plains in Ira Eldredge’s company, arriving in Salt Lake City, September 15, 1861. In his autobiography, Grandfather made no mention whatever of the hazards and hardships of crossing either the sea or the plains, only that these events occurred.

    They settled in Kaysville, where that first winter of 1861-62 Grandfather taught school. On July 12, 1862, they received their endowments and were sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. It was in Kaysville that they met and were befriended by my mother’s family, the Grandison Raymonds, who had emigrated to Utah in 1852.

  • With considerable difficulty, they managed to build a nice, warm cabin. Grandma had brought with her from England, lovely clothing–nice woolens and other fine materials. One day just before the birth of her first child in March 1862, she had hung some washed clothes to dry by the fireplace. Her little dog dragged the clothes into the fire and he made short work of the cabin and its contents, and even singed himself. So up in smoke had gone all Grandmother’s beautiful things. It broke her heart. But Grandfather–bless him–comforted her with the healing thought that she had been too worldly. I have heard her say: “Poor little Mosiah, ‘e came into the world with noothin’ to coover ‘im.”

    They remained only a short time in Kaysville, for in the fall of 1862 they moved to Huntsville, Weber County. It was there that we children knew them. When we first knew Grandpa, he looked a lot like Moses. He wore a great, fluffy, flowing beard. If he had a mouth, we never saw it. My husband’s grandfather washed his beard every morning with homemade soap and kept it snow white; but my Grandfather’s beard was tattletale gray. I recall that his hair was heavy and his eyebrows, too, grew out of all proportion. In his later years in Colorado in his capacity as Patriarch, he went on long trips with horse and buggy over his vast district. When his hair and eyebrows grew until he could no longer see out, he came home for a trimming. There’s no place like home to get trimmed! On his visits to Huntsville, he usually arrived in this same hairy disguise, and before Papa could get him trimmed he always felt called upon to kiss Mother and us children. Kissing Grandpa was more of a privilege than a pleasure. It was like nothing else you’ve ever known. You went into the beard flying blind, and came out with the firm conviction that now you had seen everything. Mother and we kids always held it against Papa that he didn’t have to kiss Grandpa.

    But I must get back to his history. In 1864, he again crossed the plains with ox teams for emigrants.

    For several years, he taught school in the winter and worked as a carpenter in the summer. He acted as Postmaster of Huntsville for several years. For nine years, which was its entire existence, he was Secretary of the Huntsville Co-op. I have heard numerous references to the Co-op Farm. It is my impression that it was a dairy business. It may have included other cattle and farming–I am not sure. But if my memory serves, my youthful father got his first experience in the school of hard knocks working on the old co-op Farm. I think it must have been there, too, that he first learned the “value of a dollar.” He spent his life trying to teach that essential lesson to his children, but we were slow to learn.

  • Later, Grandfather took up land under the Homestead Act to the south of Huntsville, which he pretty much turned over to his sons to clear and develop. This enterprise in time resulted in a thriving farm, producing cattle and farm crops of exceptional quality. It remained in our family for many years but is now owned and operated by the Ogden Stake of the Latter-day Saints Church as a cattle-producing welfare farm project. Sometime in the late 1800’s, Grandfather also acquired excellent ranching property in Bear Lake County, Idaho, at Thomas’s Fork, east of Montpelier. He was no doubt influenced in this endeavor by the fact that my Grandfather Raymond had taken up land in that vicinity and had established a cattle business there, and was most enthusiastic about its possibilities. This, too, Grandfather turned over to his boys to develop. The boys formed a partnership to operate the farm in Huntsville and the ranch in Raymond, Idaho, this town having been named for my Grandfather Raymond. Some years later, when the partnership was dissolved, my father took the ranch in Idaho and Uncle John Halls took the farm in Huntsville.

    On June 26, 1871, just a little more than 10 years after Grandfather’s marriage to my Grandmother, an event occurred which shattered Grandma’s life: Grandfather took a second wife, Johanna Maria Frandsen. Grandma was not converted to polygamy, nor was she converted in the slightest degree to sharing her beautiful William Halls with anyone. I don’t like to ponder in my own mind what her feelings may have been on this occasion. I can only judge by outward appearances. From this time on, she became sad, embittered, critical. At thirty-one, it was obvious to those around her that her happiness had taken flight. Johanna was 21 years Grandpa’s junior. She was not quite sixteen years of age and he was thirty-seven at the time of their marriage. Rumor has it that Johanna had a boy friend of whom she was very fond, and wasn’t sold on marrying a friend of her father’s, no matter how solid a citizen. But Johanna’s father knew what was best for her. To marry her to a fine, upstanding Latter-day Saint, a pillar of the community and already well established, was surely an improvement on taking a chance on a callow youth who had not yet proven himself. In those days, girls were not encouraged to do their own thinking, and certainly not to defy the good judgment of their fathers, and so the marriage took place. Johanna gave Grandfather twelve children, Grandmother only six, and she had no intention of giving him any more after he made his decision to board and bed with another woman. Others might bear him children if they wished, but not she. In the years that followed, after he had left Huntsville and came back on visits, it was observed that she made him a bed on the couch in the living room, while she herself kept to her own bedroom. She could never quite conquer her English pride, nor the deep hurt of his divided love.

    In June 1877, Grandfather became First Counselor to Bishop Francis A. Hammond of the Huntsville ward.

  • On the 8th of January 1880, eight and one-half years after his second marriage, Grandfather married his third wife, Eleanor Howard, an attractive school teacher from Salt Lake City. I think she was about thirty-two years old. She has been referred to as an old maid. Eleanor came to live very near Grandma, and she became even a sharper thorn in Grandma’s side than Johanna. I think, in spite of everything, Grandma had a certain sympathy for Johanna (she thought of her as an ignorant young thing), but not for Eleanor. In April 1881, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, and in March 1884, conveniently died and cleared the air for all concerned, not the least of whom may have been herself. Grandmother took Eleanor’s child to rear. In all of this, while my sympathies are naturally with my own sex, still, I cannot quite dispel a rather tender feeling of appreciation of my poor Grandfather’s untenable position. He was so thoroughly imbued with a desire to serve the Lord and to support the authorities, without reservation, that when they urged the brethren to accept the God-given law of polygamy, to him there could be no alternative. The unfortunate repercussions were scarcely to be laid at his door.

    Early in 1885, the Church organized the San Juan Stake of Zion in southeastern Utah and Grandfather was called on a mission to help build up San Juan County. He was set apart as the First Counselor in the new Stake Presidency and former Bishop of Huntsville, Francis A. Hammond, became the Stake President. Grandfather had a long and rewarding association with President Hammond, whom he loved and respected as possibly no other man, and his years of serving with him were among the happiest of Grandfather’s life. Grandpa took with him to San Juan, his second wife and the eight children who had been born to them in Huntsville. They helped build up the little town of Bluff, Utah. However, they remained in Bluff only a year and then moved on to Mancos, Colorado. In Mancos, Grandpa engaged in farming and stock-raising, which, here again, he turned over mostly to his boys, so that he might spend his time in the ministry. For eight years, he acted as Stake Tithing Clerk. He was a Director in the District Schools of Mancos for nine years, and was Superintendent of Schools for Montezuma County for two terms. He also acted as Justice of the Peace for several years in the Mancos precinct.

    Grandfather never again returned to Huntsville to live. He came on fairly frequent visits and was enthusiastically received by his first family, even by Grandma herself, for she couldn’t get over loving him–and I’m sure she must have tried. It was at this stage of his life–on his visits to Huntsville when I was a child–that my mother and we children became acquainted with Grandpa. My father and his brothers built for their mother a neat little blue frame house (or was it gray?) on the same lot with our town house. In the summer we lived at the farm. A well-kept garden with rhubarb that poked bright pink noses out of the ground in the spring, and gooseberry bushes, separated our house from Grandma’s. There was a well-worn path connecting our houses. Father and his brothers took care of Grandma and supported her, just as Grandfather expected them to do.

  • On the 25th of November 1900, Grandfather and President Hammond met with an accident while riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Grandfather sustained only slight injuries, but President Hammond was mortally hurt. At President Hammond’s death, Grandfather assumed the responsibilities of Acting Stake President until September 1901, at which time Platt D. Lyman was called as President, and Grandfather again became First Counselor. But President Lyman died in a few weeks, leaving Grandfather again in charge, until May 1902. Walter C. Lyman was then chosen president and Grandfather, for the third time, became the First Counselor, which office he held for a good number of years. In 1908, he was ordained a Patriarch by President Lyman, which office it would appear he held in conjunction with that of Counselor to the Stake President. He came to Huntsville when I was about eight and gave Patriarchal blessings to my mother, my older sister Violet, and me. He told me Satan would seek to destroy me, and he about succeeded then and there. However, Grandpa did give me the encouraging word that if I would obey my parents and be “prudent”–and that’s his exact word–I would live to grow up, a worthwhile accomplishment from my point of view, and so I got busy being prudent in a hurry. Grandpa’s Patriarchal blessings were a work of art. Although he had had little formal schooling, having learned to read and spell from his mother. He was a precise, excellent penman; his command of the English language was likewise excellent, although he was largely self-taught. He had a remarkable vocabulary and his use and choice of words was very effective. One summer at the ranch, where at that time we had no indoor plumbing, he came down the stairs one night and poked his head around the door to the dining room where Mother and some of the family were seated and said quietly, “Celia, there is no “vessel” in my room.” That turned out to be one of our family jokes. Imagine calling an ordinary “toidy mug” a “vessel.” In our more refined moments, we called it a “chamber.” I’ve heard it called other names, too, but never a “vessel.”

    He had a natural gift for speaking and writing, and a profound knowledge of the gospel. He had an alert, analytical mind, and a priceless sense of humor that often manifested itself in a delightful manner in his speech and writing. He knew when he was being funny and his eyes fairly glittered in a unique manner I have never seen in anyone else, except his daughter by his third wife, my Aunt Lottie, whom we all loved dearly. She was a lot like him and was always great fun to be with because of her humorous point of view, accompanied by what, in a woman, might be described as “roguish” eyes. They danced when he was being her characteristically entertaining self. And so it was with Grandpa. But Mama used to think he was ever so conceited because he knew of and appreciated so well his own engaging personality.

  • In 1911, he compiled and published in a little volume, some of the gospel articles and poems which he had written. With characteristic modesty, he titled this book “Select Writings.” We had a great number of these books stored in our home, and we gave them out indiscriminately to anyone and to everyone who would carry one off. We children had little appreciation for his literary work–we made all manner of jokes about “Grandpa’s book,” particularly about his poems. He wrote these poems about homely subjects with which he was familiar, which all good authors agree is a smart approach. At one time, when I was at home in Ogden and the folks were at the ranch in Idaho, a letter came from Grandpa, and I told them in forwarding it that I hadn’t opened it for fear of a poem. Sure enough, I found later that there as a poem in it–on the stimulating subject of how many thousand bowls of “mush” he had eaten during his lifetime. I marvel a little now, in retrospect, that Papa took all our joking about Grandpa so good-naturedly. Many a conscientious father, I think, would have reprimanded us for such disrespect of our own grandfather, no less. I suppose Papa knew we would grow up. Now, in this year of our Lord 1970, “Grandfather’s Book” is at a great premium in the family. Everybody wants a copy. The great-grandchildren, in marked contrast to us, clamor for a copy of their very own. I have had numerous calls inquiring if by any possible good chance I have an extra copy. I have managed, through sheer good fortune and certainly no forethought on my part, to keep a copy in my possession. I now guard it as I do my fire insurance policy, just short, that is, of keeping it in my safe deposit box at the bank. Papa lived to be 95, long enough to see some of us shape up a little. What a wise parent he was, not to try to shape us prematurely.

    In 1909, our family moved from Huntsville to Ogden. We left Grandma in Uncle John’s care. Her only blood daughter, Elizabeth Wangagard, also lived in Huntsville and watched over her mother as only a daughter can. Two years later, early in 1911, Grandma became very ill. She had suffered all her adult life with asthma. Her house always smelled of tar. Her pantry window sill was perpetually filled with little mugs of various evil-smelling concoctions that fascinated us children. She always had those hard, round old-fashioned peppermints on hand. Perhaps they helped her breathing, but we thought she kept them as a treat for us. After two or three months of gradually growing worse, it became painfully apparent that Grandma was not going to recover. We have since wondered if she may have been suffering from diabetes. Then came a day when she could no longer rise from her bed. The end seemed near. The doctors could do nothing–they didn’t understand her case. She asked for Grandpa. He was sent for immediately and told that she was dying. He came, of course, but he took his own sweet time about it. It took him two weeks. Every day she asked and every day was told that he had not yet arrived. She clung on for another day. She refused to die until she had once more looked into the dear face of the man she had never ceased to love–the man to whom she was sealed for time and for all eternity–the man who had given her such joy and yet such sorrow! He finally arrived, cool and, on the surface at least, emotionally undisturbed. He seemed little moved by her intense devotion to him. But she was overjoyed at the sight of him. She seemed to forget all the unhappiness, all the anguish; she knew only that her beloved William was there. He had come to her in her final hour of need, and nothing else mattered.

  • (Continued)

    After all the years of denying him, she actually asked him to share her bed again–to hold her once more in his arms. I find this winding up scene very pathetic. I can’t say whether he had to swallow his pride, remembering those humiliating nights spent on the living room couch, but to his credit be it said that he was able to subdue any such feelings, and certainly his naturally practical nature, and indulge her in this last frivolous whim. He spent the night with her and she died the next day, at the age of seventy. She was buried in the Huntsville cemetery in my father’s family plot. I recall that my own mother, daughter of a practical, hard-headed, New England Yankee, watching this performance, felt moved upon to instill, perhaps unwittingly, into my youthful mind, that it was a most desirable situation for the distaff side of the family to carry the lesser torch. She herself wholeheartedly subscribed to this premise. As a direct result of that early maternal influence, I often today find myself counseling young ladies of my acquaintance, who complain that they are not quite as intent in their feelings, that it is a very gratifying feeling to be well loved rather than always doing the lion’s share of the loving oneself. I am reminded of the heroine in a modern play, who made a classic statement that has remained with me. She said, “I always seem to think that when a girl really cares about a man, it puts her at a great disadvantage and no good can come of it.”

    But I digress. Coming back to my grandfather: I don’t know what his romantic relationship with his second wife may have been, but I seriously doubt that any woman, however clever, was capable of taking his mind off himself and his purposes for any length of time. So, that I don’t suppose Grandmother had any basis for jealousy of either his second or his third wife. If she really was determined to be jealous of someone or something, perhaps she might have more appropriately settled on the Church. The Church was his first love and his last; he was utterly devoted to it. Truly it can be said that he spent his life in his Master’s service.

    Johanna died two and a half years later, in 1913, at the age of fifty-eight. Grandpa lived on in Mancos until his death in 1920 at the age of eighty-six. I was on a mission in the Eastern States, stationed in Boston, at the time of his passing. With the letter that brought me word of his death was a check and the explanation that he had left me this money for the carrying on of the missionary work that had been so dear to his heart and so much a part of his life. With the letter and the check in my hand, I wept for the kindly old man who had been my grandfather. Regardless of his peculiarities, whether he was handsome or not, conceited or humble, he was my “Grandpa,” and I loved him. As my own years advance and my values begin to jell, I become more convinced that William Halls was quite a man!

  • A Note By Ernest Mosiah Hall

    Louisa’s oldest grandson. Son of Mosiah Hall

    From the time I was thirteen to nineteen years of age I went to Huntsville every summer to work on the ranch. I was always welcome at Grandma’s. She had an extra cot in her small frame house. I left my clean clothes and best suit there. There I spent my Sundays, got ready for dances, which I attended on holidays and practically every Saturday night since I was keeping company with Lizzie 0. McKay the latter part of the period.

    Grandma was quite bitter over being left by William while he took his younger second wife, Johanna Frandsen, to Mancos. Uncles William and Thomas went with them. The departure on March 7, 1885 was just one month before I was born. Louisa was rather frail with narrow sloping shoulders. She dressed neatly at all times. Her house was always immaculately clean with homemade rag carpets on the floors. She was an excellent cook. She made a currant bun that I liked very much. When I was around she always had a crock of these on hand. Her bread was also delicious, usually a light graham loaf.

    I realize now that Louisa had serious asthma. Every morning she would start coughing about five o’clock. There would be one paroxysm after another. About seven o’clock her cough would subside apparently after coughing up an irritating infectious material. She would then arise and start the breakfast. When I got dressed, I would see her sitting by the stove looking pale and wane. She would be wheezing and breathing with evident distress. Her appetite was poor, especially in the morning. She would have a small bit of cooked cereal and some tea with a thin piece of toast.

    She would never feel up to much until about ten o’clock. During the afternoon she would feel able to read, sew or work a bit about the house. On Sunday afternoon she went to Sacrament meeting. She put on her black dress and bonnet. The meeting house was only three blocks away. She would walk very primly, seldom speak to anyone unless they first spoke to her. She would usually sit by herself. When the services were over she would get up, walk out and home without looking to right or left.

  • Cottonwood trees lined the ditch bank on the west and south of her house. In the spring when the cotton-like seeds were flying through the air, her asthma was much worse. At times she had great difficulty in breathing.

    Of course, I knew Grandma at an earlier period, too. When I was four years old, my father, Mosiah, was made head of the Huntsville school. We lived there for five years. During the earlier years, Louisa lived on the farm. Lottie and I spent many happy days there. She is four years my senior and she lead out in many minor escapades. We used to slide down the snow-crusted hills south of the farm house in Grandma’s dishpan. In the summer we gathered chokecherries on these same hills. Grandmother made chokecherry jelly and wine. I remember on one occasion Lottie and I got a bit tipsy on the wine we surreptitiously obtained.

    Later Grandmother moved back into town. She lived in a small house only a short distance from us. At this time Uncle John was keeping company with Mary J. Grow. They were married later and John and his bride went to Idaho to pioneer in developing the Idaho ranch.

    Grandmother was a very shy woman. She was greatly hurt when her husband, whom she so dearly loved, left her to go with his younger wife and growing family to a far away place. I think she was greatly embarrassed and hurt. She led a lonely and austere existence. She was ill and needed loving care and companionship.

  • Recollections by Nina Halls Braithwaite
    A granddaughter, daughter of William Halls, Jr.

    I wish I could tell you more about Grandmother Louisa Halls. Because I had barely turned eleven when she died, my knowledge of her was meager. Grandmother lived in a small two-roomed white home with a porch or pantry, as I remember it. Grandfather was living in Colorado. We children did not visit her often. I only remember being in her home a few times, other than when she died. I don’t remember her visiting with us. My mother visited her. When we did go there we knew we must sit quietly and allow the older folks to do the talking. Her house was immaculate. A little four-legged range shone like a mirror. Nothing was out of place. Grandmother was cheerful and I gathered from discussions of her that she had a keen sense of humor. I remember her as being kind and serving us cookies from a cookie jar. My mother spoke kindly of her so far as I can remember, indicating to me that she was congenial so far as family was concerned. She had dark straight hair, parted in the middle and combed back as was the fashion, I suppose, of older people. The little house she lived in still stands and is as neat looking as when she lived there.

    (Note: William Halls wrote several articles which appeared in the Church publication, The Improvement Era. Several of these articles and other writings were published in a book called Selections from the Writings of William Halls. Most of the articles were related to Gospel teachings, however, one of the poems he wrote was a humorous one, Bill Jones’ Hay Rake. Also included here are two other pieces that he wrote.)


    By William Halls

    From Selections from the Writings of William Halls, Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, Utah 1911, pp. 145-7.

    Bill Jones, about as patient a man as ever pressed the sod,
    Had his patience, ever buoyant, brought humbly ‘neath the rod.
    Bill Jones was just a farmer, a good one in his way.
    He raised a family of “kids,” plus some of grain and hay.
    His wife was just as good as he, in spirit and in letter,
    And in her modest estimate, no doubt a trifle better.

    One night, in meditative mood, he to his couch retired.
    He couldn’t sleep for solemn thought; he felt he was inspired.
    He nudged his wife, and voiced this thought, in accents firm and clear,
    Said he, “I’ve something in my head; it may be an idea.”
    “A what?” said Dinah, roused at last, “What now, for goodness sake?”
    Said he, “l have a half a mind to go and buy a rake.
    I’ve borrowed Tim’s till I am tired, and so I think I’ll end it.
    The last time that I broke his rake, he thought I ought to mend it.”
    Said she, “Now Bill, hear me for once, to borrow’s but a bubble.
    It’s when you’ve got a rake to lend, you meet substantial trouble.”

    Next day he went and bought a rake, his wife adjudged him crazy.
    He raked his hay and smiling said, “Now isn’t she a daisy?”
    He gave his note with two percent, for ninety days I vow,
    And when it reached maturity, it took their brindle cow.

    One day his neighbor, Simon Slack, came sauntering along.
    Said he, “You’ve got a way-up rake, it must be mighty strong.
    My hay is just a dryin’ up; I’d like right smart to rake it.
    I’ll take good care and bring it back, if you but let me take it.”
    Said Bill, “I guess I’ll let her go, seein’ it is you.
    Take good care and bring it back, as soon as you are through.”

    He raked his hay all right, and said, “Now, I will be a dunce,
    If I don’t try this brand new rake, and see if it will bunch.”
    An ordinary rake is made, as everybody knows,
    Only just to rake the hay, and leave it in windrows;
    But Simon jumped upon the rake, and bunched his hay quite fine.
    He bent the gudgeons out of true, the main shaft out of line.

    He quite forgot to oil the rake, and keep the burrs all tight.
    The burrs came loose, some bolts were lost, and gone clean out of sight.



    When next Bill went to use his rake, it wobbled with a jerk.
    It wouldn’t rake, it wouldn’t dump, in short, it wouldn’t work.
    And as Bill took it to the shop to get it straightened out,
    That his patience was a little bent, I haven’t any doubt.
    The blacksmith said, “This is the worst affair I ever knew.
    You leave it till tomorrow; I’ll see what I can do.”
    When Bill then went to get his rake, and asked about the charge,
    “Seven dollars; and you may think that that is rather large,
    But it was the toughest job that I have ever found.
    I’ll take my pay in butter, at twenty cents a pound.
    I’ll be easy on you, seein’ you’re a neighbor.
    I’ll throw in all the bolts and screws, and charge just for my labor.”

    When Bill went home and told his wife, it caused no little splutter.
    Said she, “You know old brindle’s gone; how can we spare the butter?
    Now we shant have one speck to eat, for seven weeks or more.”
    And then she cussed the rake and Bill, once, twice, thrice, o’er and o’er.
    But things soon went all smooth again, with scarcely any flutter,
    And Dinah learned the useful art of cooking without butter.

    One day, Tim Jenkins came along, and said to neighbor Bill,
    “My old hay rake is just give out, I’d like you, if you will,
    To lend me yours a little while, I’m very nearly through.
    I hate worst kind to borrow, but I don’t know what to do.”
    Now Bill had often borrowed Tim’s; he could well say no;
    And though it tried his tender heart, he had to let it go.

    Tim raked his hay; was coming back, without a thought of ill.
    Tom Williams said, “I want that rake, it’s all right with neighbor Bill.”
    Tom raked his hay, and left the rake a standing on the field.
    Joe Corgan came and hauled it off; it wobbled–fairly reeled.

    Two weeks of patient waiting, the rake did not come back.
    Bill hitched onto his wagon, and started on its track.
    He traced it up to Tim and Tom, and when he came to Joe,
    Said he, “I may have seen your rake, but really I don’t know.
    About three miles down the river, the boys are makin’ hay.
    They may have taken your old rake; I really couldn’t say.”
    Bill started off with heavy heart; the rake was broken down!
    He put it in his wagon, and hauled it off to town.
    The blacksmith said, “This is a case where it’s too late to mend.
    Better buy a new one, Bill, be cheaper in the end.”

    He left the rake, and told his wife how he had learned with sorrow,
    By a short, but sad experience; it’s cheaper far to borrow.


    Let A stand for Affections for father, mother, brothers and sisters, wife, children and all humanity.

    B for Benevolence, to lift up the fallen, help the distressed, and comfort the sorrowful.

    C for Courtesy, to help me through the world, to smooth my pathway, to make me friends.

    D for Duty to God, to family, to neighbor, to friend, to the Ordinances of the Gospel, to Divine Authority, to all the Covenants in the House of the Lord, for the living and the dead, to the sealings for Time and all Eternity.

    E for Equity, give everyone an equal privilege with us, respect to person.

    F for Faith, in God, in Christ, in the Divine Mission of Joseph Smith, in all the Ordinances of the Gospel, and in the gifts of the Gospel, to resist evil, and to obey all the Commandments of God.

    G for Gratitude, to God for all His goodness, to my family and friends, for their love and kindness to me, for the joy the Gospel gives us in this life, and the hope of Eternal Life, in the world to come.

    H for Honesty, to live within my means, to pay all my debts, not to want something for nothing, to earn my living, and help the needy.

    I for Individuality, I must live my own life, fill my own mission, work out my own salvation, and do my part in the world’s work.

    J for Judgment in all things temporal and spiritual, in the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the company I keep, the books I read, to choose the good, and refuse the evil, lest I make mistakes that may give me sorrow and disappointment.

    K for Knowledge, of God and Christ, of the way that leads to joy in this life, and eternal life, in the first resurrection.

    L for Love, the great all conquering power, by love of God’s rules in all His dominions, by love Christ died that we might live. It is mother love that sustains all mortal life, true love never dies; it is Eternal. If I love God, I will do His will and become like Him.

    M for Meekness, I must put away pride and vanity, and feel my dependence on the mercy and grace of God to overcome my weaknesses and resist evil.

    N for Nobility, I must never yield to anything mean and vulgar, I must strive for a seat with priests and kings in the Glory of the Celestial Kingdom.

  • (Continued)

    O for Obedience, to God and Christ, to all the laws of God, to the Priesthood, in Divine Authority, to all the Ordinances of the Gospel and to the laws of the State and Nation. It is my only safety. All things are governed by law.

    P for Purity, I must be clean, it is the pure in heart that shall see God and dwell in His presence. I will watch and pray, lest I enter into temptations and become defiled and be cast out.

    Q for Quietude, I must be calm, not fret nor worry, but trust in God, and I will never be forsaken. God is my Father and Friend.

    R for Reverence for God and Christ, for the Priesthood and Divine Authority, for the Endowments and sealings in the Holy Temple for the living and the dead, and never by word, or deed, or thought, treat any sacred principle with levity, but let the solemnity of Eternity rest upon me, lest I grieve the Spirit and darkness come on me.

    S for Service for God and humanity, I will take upon me the yoke and follow Christ, and when called give my time, labor, and means in preaching the Gospel, gathering Israel, the building up of Zion, to prepare for the Kingdom of Heaven to come to earth.

    T for Truth, the knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come, I will speak the truth, live the truth, and seek to know the truth, and be free from the powers of Satan.

    U for Usefulness, in my family, in the ward, I will help all I can to make the world a better place to live in.

    V for Virtues that is dearer than life, if I love my life it will, by the Atonement of Christ, be restored, but if I lose my virtue it can never be restored. My Virtue is my passport into the presence of the Sanctified. Without it I am cast out, Lord help me to retain my Virtue that I may enter into the marriage feast with robes of purity, with no stain on my garments.

    W for Wisdom, a precious gift, without wisdom knowledge may be misused, power may be used to destroy, instead of to save. Wisdom comes from God, it cannot be learned in schools. Money will not buy it, knowledge of knowing good and evil, often chooses the evil, wisdom always chooses the good.

    X for Xyster, which I hope I will never need.

    Y for Yes, will I serve God with undivided heart, I hope I may answer Yes, will I be faithful to the end, I hope Yes, will I always be true to God, and my family, and friends, I hope Yes. Do I acknowledge the hand of God over me from childhood, I answer Yes, with all my heart.

    Z for Zion, may my home be in Zion, with the pure in heart, with my family and friends, under the protecting care of my Heavenly Fathers is my humble prayer.

    May 25, 1920

    I’m eighty-six years old today, and thankful I can truly say,
    I am free from care and worldly strife, and I am satisfied with life.
    I am thankful that I had my birth, when Gospel light is on the earth,
    That in the years of early youth I was converted to the truth,
    That a servant of the Lord was led to lay his hands upon my head
    And give me power to proclaim the Gospel truth in Jesus name,
    That in the service of the Lord, I was called to go abroad
    And by the grace of God I went and called on sinners to repent
    And when my seven-year mission ended, my heavenly father condescended
    To lead me to this chosen land, that I might on Mount Zion stand,
    And gave me wives one, two, and three, and a numerous posterity
    And when the world in tumult rose, we dwell in peaceful calm repose,
    That to work in the temple I was led, for the living and the dead
    And now that I have had my day, soon the night will come, I’ll pass away
    Obedient to our father’s will, I’ve sought my mission to fulfill
    And when I am numbered with the dead, I trust my children may be led
    To move on in this temple work, and not a single duty shirk,
    That those who lived and passed away, in a dark and cloudy day
    May partake the precious things, the everlasting Gospel brings.
    Let us pray they may the truth believe, and our vicarious work receive
    That when the Savior comes again, we with them may rise to reign
    As priests and kings upon the earth at creation’s second birth
    It is my earnest humble prayer, that we may meet each other there.
    It is a blessing great and grand, that we may on Mount Zion stand
    And exercise a saving power for the dead in this eleventh hour.
    All glory be to God on high, who left his mansion in the sky
    To show his love and father’s care, and came and answered Joseph’s prayer
    That holy angels from the Lord, the holy priesthood have restored
    The church of Christ to organize, and preach repentance and baptize
    In his name whose blood was shed for the living and the dead
    “What comfort this sweet sentence gives, I know that my redeemer lives.”

    This article appeared in the September 1985 Ensign. It specifically mentions the 1861 voyage the emigrant ship Underwriter among whose passengers were William and Louisa Halls. The article gives us a more complete picture of what their trip to Utah was like, so it is included here.

  • “Down and Back” Wagon Trains:
    Bringing the Saints to Utah in 1861

    By William G. Hartley

    William G. Hartley, “ ‘Down and Back’ Wagon Trains: Bringing the Saints to Utah in 1861,” Ensign, Sept. 1985, 26
    Abraham Lincoln’s election as president of the United States in November 1860 initiated a chain of events that would change for years to come the pattern of LDS emigration to Utah. As a result of Lincoln’s election, the southern states seceded—and the Civil War began.

    During this time, the migrating Saints faced many questions. Would the Civil War block ships from Europe? Would the armies commandeer all the available transportation? A large segment of the emigrating Saints were too poor to buy their own wagons and teams, and the Church lacked the funds to buy them even if they had been available. Earlier emigrants had used inexpensive handcarts, but these had afforded too little protection from the elements and no room for extra food. Thus, the leaders of the Church needed to devise a new, inexpensive wagon system for the 1861 emigrants.

    The story of the 1861 LDS emigration in “down and back” wagon trains is a drama that spans Europe, the Atlantic, and America, in which members of the Church from many lands played parts in gathering the Saints to Utah.

    Scene One: The Eastern States

    As Baptist-born Wilhelmina Bitter and her husband, Traugott, listened to Elder Bernhard Schettler preach in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), New York, they wondered why Mormons, or anyone else, would want to move to the Utah wilderness. But their friends, the Blumells, had fasted and prayed about the Church and had received a testimony of it when the rooms in which they were praying “became lit up.” Brother and Sister Bitter soon received their own testimonies and were baptized with the Blumells. By spring, 1861, Elder Schettler’s branch of New York German converts included not only the Bitters and Blumells, but also several other families who were to head for Utah wilderness. 1

    Elders Erastus Snow and Orson Pratt of the Council of the Twelve found that, unlike Elder Schettler’s enthusiastic converts, most of the resident Saints in the eastern states were less than enthusiastic about emigrating. In late 1860, the Apostles tried to fire up the Eastern Saints to “gather them to Zion.” Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Elder John D. T. McAllister succeeded in warming up several hundred Pennsylvania Saints to go west. 2

  • Hesitant Saints became less hesitant after hearing about the capture of Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 14. Elder Snow called the shots fired at Fort Sumter a “loud sermon” telling the Eastern Saints to flee to Utah for safety. 3

    Elder Lucius Scovil, who was laboring in New York and New Jersey when war broke out, immediately mailed copies of Joseph Smith’s 1832 Civil War prophecy (see D&C 87) to several of his non-LDS relatives. His diary records that President Lincoln’s urgent call for troops upset many Easterners. “War! War and blood! is the cry,” he wrote. Elder Scovil advised Eastern Saints “to wind up their business and leave Babylon” that spring. 4

    By April 26, an anonymous letter with anti-Mormon threats prompted Elder Pratt and Elder Snow to cancel public LDS meetings in the New York City area. Pro-South mobs tore up railroad tracks in Baltimore, and the Apostles began to worry that war might prevent the Saints from emigrating.

    Scene Two: Salt Lake City

    On 23 April 1861, the day after news arrived of Fort Sumter’s fall, two hundred wagons and seventeen hundred oxen left the Salt Lake Valley for Florence, in Nebraska Territory, to provide transportation for hundreds of needy emigrant Saints.

    Earlier, in February, Brigham Young had asked Utah wards for loans of wagons and teams for the six-month round trip, in exchange for tithing credits. Seventy-five wards—nearly every ward in Utah—donated a fully outfitted wagon and yoke of oxen, and most sent two or more outfits. These “down and back” wagons made up four Church trains, whose captains were Mormon Trail veterans Joseph W. Young, John R. Murdock, Joseph Horne, and Ira Eldredge.

    Young men agreed to drive the wagons. Brigham Young himself “donated” several teamsters, including nineteen-year-old Zebulon Jacobs, whose diary describes the struggles and triumphs of the journey. At four trail stations along the way, the four trains deposited tons of flour—also donated by Utah wards—to feed the Saints during the return trip.

    Scene Three: Copenhagen

    Meanwhile, early in 1861, Scandinavian Mission President John Van Cott had called for hopeful emigrants to come to Copenhagen’s docks by late April. That month news of the war in America arrived.

  • President Van Cott booked the Baltic Sea steamer Valdemar and ushered more than 550 Saints aboard on May 9, bound for Kiel, on Germany’s north shore. By another steamer he reached Kiel before the Saints did and chartered a train for them. The company then traveled to Hamburg, where they boarded two North Sea ships, the Eugenie and the Brittannia, to sail to Hull and Grimsby on England’s east coast, where they would join the other European Saints in crossing the Atlantic.

    Scene Four: Liverpool

    In late 1860 in England, Norwich District President William Jeffries felt the “emigration spirit.” 5 He received a release from his position and married his sweetheart, Mary. They packed and reached Liverpool on 11 April 1861. In Birmingham, about the same time, F. W. Blake and one hundred other Saints boarded a Liverpool-bound train “amidst cheering shouts of hurrahs, waving of hats and handkerchiefs.” 6

    To channel the swelling LDS emigrant stream towards America, European Mission President George Q. Cannon chartered three ships at Liverpool, filled them with supplies, appointed LDS officers for each ship, and supervised the emigrants’ boarding and departures.

    On April 16, Jeffries and 378 other Saints set sail aboard the Manchester. F. W. Blake and 623 other Saints followed on the Underwriter on April 23. Three weeks later, after a bumpy train ride across England from Hull, President Van Cott’s Scandinavian company arrived in Liverpool. On May 16 they joined the largest LDS company yet to sail—955 Saints—on the Monarch of the Sea. All in all, about two thousand European Saints made the five- to seven-week voyage to New York on the three ships.

    Scene Five: Across Civil War America

    After arriving in New York, the three groups of European Saints soon joined with a fourth group of Saints from the eastern states. In New York City, LDS emigration agents funneled the four companies—three thousand Saints total—onto harbor barges that landed each of them at the Jersey City depot. From there, they traveled by train northwest to Dunkirk, New York, west along Lake Erie and to Chicago, and southwest to the Mississippi River at Quincy, Illinois, fifty miles south of deserted Nauvoo.

    The Saints traveled by riverboats twenty miles downriver to Hannibal, Missouri, where they again traveled by train—this time across Missouri to St. Joseph. There they boarded Missouri riverboats for a two- or three-day upriver push to Florence. The ten day trip from New York required a half-dozen train changes and two transfers to and from riverboats—a tiring, dirty, and uncomfortable crossing of America to its frontier.

  • The Manchester and Underwriter groups reached and departed from New York in May. The Eastern Saints’ Company, which included teenager Thomas Griggs (who later composed the hymn, “Gently Raise the Sacred Strain”) and sixty Saints from Boston as well as members from Elder Schettler’s German branch, left on June 11. A day later, President McAllister and three hundred Saints from Pennsylvania joined the Eastern Company’s train. Finally, on June 20, the last bloc—the Monarch passengers—began their train trip from New York, barely in time to meet the “down and back” wagons.

    During the trip from Jersey City to Florence, the Saints saw clear evidence of America’s Civil War. At the Jersey City train depot on June 11, Boston Saints met “a regiment of New York soldiers on their way to war” who harassed them. 7 Because of “the call of government for means of transporting the troops,” 8 the Saints had a hard time getting enough railroad cars. In Elmira, New York, George Ottinger, one of the Pennsylvania Saints who later became a famous Utah artist, “had a row with a soldier” who was bothering two LDS women. 9 Near Chicago the train passed “a gallows furnished with a noose and an inscription that read ‘Death to traitors.’ ” 10

    When the emigrants reached Missouri they saw troops guarding a cannon they had captured from secessionists and learned that a rebel officer was imprisoned in the train depot. Nearly every town and bridge they passed was under guard, and rumor had it that rebels had fired into previous passenger trains. Thomas Griggs wrote that Chillicothe, Missouri, “presented the appearance of a captured city, all business being entirely suspended and the streets patrolled by armed men of every conceivable character of drunkenness.” 11 Griggs added that “the spirit of secession was prevalent,” and that American and rebel flags were alternately run up and down the town’s flagpole. 12

    War curtailed Missouri River traffic, forcing the emigrants to overload the available steamboats. George Ottinger wrote that on his riverboat “the people piled in endways, sideways, crossings and every way all as thick as hops.” 13

    By mid-July, when Lucius Scovil and Orson Pratt were hurrying to Florence to join the last LDS wagons, no trains were running in Missouri. Secessionists had burned railroad bridges and torn up tracks, and the two elders had to ride to Florence by stagecoach. Had the LDS groups who had traveled by train arrived in Missouri a month behind schedule, the war would have kept them from Florence.

    Scene Six: Florence

    Throughout May, June, and July of 1861, about four thousand Saints from the East, and two hundred “down and back” wagons from the West converged on Florence, where a bustling outfitting camp had been set up—complete with provisions store, warehouse, campsites, corrals, weighing machines, bowery, and LDS agents directing the outfitting.

  • Jacob Gates, agent in charge, had set up the camp. Acting on orders from Brigham Young, he had arrived in New York City from England in February. There he had made preliminary railroad bookings for the May and June European emigrants, taking time to visit an old boyhood friend on Wall Street to show him a copy of Joseph Smith’s Civil War prophecy. In Chicago, Elder Gates bought 111 unassembled wagons from the Peter Schuttler wagon company for $7300, to be delivered at Florence in June.

    After Elder Gates reached Florence in early April, he heard distressing news of the fall of Fort Sumter. On April 24 he saw soldiers from Ft. Kearney, Nebraska, heading east. “The war spirit is up,” he wrote, “and fear seems to creep over the nation and a dread of something to come.” 14

    On May 5 he learned how many “down and back” teams were coming from Salt Lake City. Without knowing how many emigrants to expect because of possible delays, he opened a warehouse and stockpiled provisions and trail equipment.

    The first group of emigrants—the Saints who had traveled on the Manchester—arrived in Florence on May 24. Elder Gates helped them obtain wagons, form an independent train, and start west on May 29. The second emigrant company—the Underwriter passengers—reached Florence on June 3, followed by the Saints from the eastern states on June 20. Meanwhile, the wagons from Utah rolled into Florence between June 16 and June 30, on schedule. The last group of emigrants—-the Monarch company—arrived on July 2.

    Elder Gates, Elder Pratt, Elder Snow, and Captain Young were surprised by the large number of emigrants. Elder Snow had estimated that three hundred wagons would be needed; he had, in fact, misjudged by three hundred wagons. By July 2 the Florence outfitting camp contained more than 2500 Saints—including Germans, Swiss, Italians, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, Scots, Welsh, English, Irish, and Canadians.

    Saints who could not buy their own wagons and teams signed up to travel in the “down and back” companies. Captain Joseph W. Young supervised the “ticket sales” and loading of the four Church trains, freeing Elder Gates to oversee the outfitting of the independent trains.

    While waiting for wagon assignments, emigrants assembled Schuttler wagons, built a public bowery, and sewed together wagon covers and tents. To feed the Saints and stock the wagon trains, Elder Gates’s agents procured bulk supplies from stores in the area, including 13,000 pounds of sugar, 3,000 pounds of apples, 3,300 pounds of ham, and 15,000 pounds of bacon.

  • During late June and early July, six independent trains and the four “down and back” trains fitted out. On Perpetual Emigration Fund Company ledgers, Church agents issued loans and credits for food, supplies, and wagon fares to passengers in need—including more than six hundred heads of households. People in Church trains received wagon assignments, with six to twelve people per wagon. Fares were fourteen dollars for adults and seven dollars for children under age eight. Each passenger was allowed fifty free pounds of baggage, and was charged twenty cents for each pound over fifty.

    One sister wrote that in her wagon, items not used daily “were stacked up in the middle of a wagon, as high as the bows,” cutting the wagon into two apartments. 15 Camp kettles were tied beneath the wagons. The groups camped outside Florence until departure day, practicing campfire cooking and learning to handle ox teams.

    The “down and back” trains moved out during the first two weeks in July. Jacob Gates closed down the Florence camp and left it on July 17—four days before the first major battle of the Civil War. By then, 12 wagon trains with 624 wagons had left Florence, carrying 3,900 emigrants—1000 from the eastern states, 1900 from Europe, and 1000 “independents” who had reached Florence on their own. About 1,700 emigrants traveled to Utah in the four “down and back” wagon companies.

    Scene Seven: The Mormon Trail

    The 1,000-mile trail the emigrants followed paralleled the Platte River’s north shore across Nebraska and part of Wyoming, then followed the Sweetwater River halfway across Wyoming to South Pass before cutting southwest to Fort Bridger and over rugged 7,700-foot high mountains into Utah. In mid-journey the trains passed US army units that had once been stationed in Utah—with their troops and baggage wagons heading east to join in the fighting.

    The emigrants traveled safely, for the most part. Although they experienced some problems, the majority of the emigrants arrived in Salt Lake City healthy and in good spirits. James H. Linford, an emigrant from England, wrote “there was a sameness in every day’s travel,” and “all in all it was a nice trip for the healthy and strong.” He noticed that “All of the able-bodied emigrants walked from Florence to Utah.” 16

    The Utah teamsters, called “Utah boys,” were considered rough-mannered by some of the European Saints. But the “Utah boys” helped to make the journey more interesting. Zeb Jacobs wrote in his diary of a man who had joined with the young teamsters in a “snipe hunt” one night: “We stopped him and found that he belonged to Heber P. Kimball’s train which was a short distance ahead of us. The boys had induced him to catch rabbits in Yankee fashion, by building a small fire and lying down by it with an open sack for the rabbits to run into, and then hit them on the head with a club, now and then giving a low whistle; other boys going out to drive the rabbits in, when all of a sudden the boys gave a yell. The man thought the Indians were upon him, and off he started at full run. He had run about a mile when we stopped him. The fellow was scared out of his wits.” 17

  • During August, September, and October, the wagon trains reached Salt Lake City. Church leaders welcomed the newcomers, and the “Utah boys” resumed their less exciting work. The “down and back” trains were disbanded, and the borrowed wagons and teams were returned to their Utah owners, who received a total of more than two hundred thousand dollars in tithing credits as pay.

    Emigrants quickly found lodging and work. Hundreds stayed in Salt Lake City; others settled in areas such as St. George, Tooele, and Lehi. Brigham Young felt pleased that 3,900 emigrants had reached Utah safely—1,700 of them in “down and back” wagons with Utah oxen, saving the Church thousands of dollars that would otherwise have been spent to buy cattle and wagons. “The sending down of wagons from Utah to Florence is a grand scheme,” wrote Elder McAllister. 18

    From 1862 to 1868 (railroads reached Utah in 1869), 24,000 more emigrants came to Utah. One-third to one-half of those, needing Church help, came in “down and back” wagon trains sent from Utah.

    The carefully orchestrated emigrations during the 1860s pay tribute to the inspiration and organizing genius of Brigham Young and the emigration officers who oversaw the migration. Although some other companies did endure severe hardships, the carefully planned and supplied “down and back” wagon trains and the independent trains that traveled with them typify our LDS emigration legacy.


    This paper draws in part from the author’s Kindred Saints (Salt Lake City: Eden Hill, 1982), pp. 124-52, and his “The Great Florence Fit-out of 1861,” forthcoming in BYU Studies. For an analysis of the Church Trains during the rest of the 1860s see Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1958), pp. 205-11.

    [illustrations] Illustrated by Scott M. Snow

    [illustration] From Florence, emigrant wagon trains followed the Mormon Trail 1,000 miles across Nebraska and Wyoming into Utah.

    © 2003 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Trust Benefits

    The Trust offers opportunities to all members of the family. Click here to learn about the benefits that apply to you.

  • Mission Application

    Download the application (click the download button below), complete it online and email it back to me.


  • College Application

    Download the application (click the download button below), complete it online and email it.


  • Note about the download files:
    Both applications are pdf files, so you'll need Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader to open them. To download Acrobat Reader (it's free), click the Acrobat Reader icon below and follow the directions to download and install.

    get acrobat reader